Congratulations! You’ve finally made the switch and decided to install solar panels! Now that you’ve invested in this source of renewable energy, it’s time to learn how to clean solar panels.
To get the most of your sun-powered panels, try to keep them as free from dirt or debris as possible. Luckily, their upkeep is pretty straightforward and will cost you next to nothing. In this post, we walk you through the basics of how to clean solar panels.
Let’s get started!
How to Clean Solar Panels: A Quick Summary
Solar panels are a practical, cost-effective way to provide your home with sustainable energy. They help reduce greenhouse gas emissions while reducing your electricity bills.
They have a glass covering to protect them and boost their efficiency. These panels are in the open air all day, every day. It’s no surprise they’re going to get covered in all sorts of debris that block off sunlight.
So, what’s the best DIY solution? All you need is a simple garden hose and a soft sponge. You may also have to use a mild detergent if the stains need more than just water to get them out.
How to Tell When it’s Time to Clean Solar Panels
There are a couple of ways you can check to see when the panels need to be cleaned.
It’s important to keep an eye on the panels. If you notice any of the following things piling up, it’s time for a wash:
- Bird droppings
Monitoring your home’s energy usage is just as important. If you find any fluctuations in your energy bills, that could also mean it’s time to give the panels a thorough cleaning.
A Monitoring System
Another way to tell when you need to clean solar panels is by using a monitoring system. This system is constantly keeping an eye on the overall condition of the panels.
It provides you with information on their status and performance. It also tells you when they need cleaning and maintenance. By keeping a watchful eye on the panels, you can reduce the risk of damage and increase their lifespan.
How Often Should Solar Panels Be Cleaned?
Regular upkeep can do wonders for your panels. So, how often should you clean them?
In areas that get lots of rain, you’ll only need to wash them every six months. It’s more than likely that the rain will wash away most of the dirt and dust. That being said, you shouldn’t depend on rainfall as your primary cleaning method.
It may not be enough to get rid of all the debris. Plus, when the rain evaporates, it leaves behind a thin layer of film and grime residue.
How about those who live in dry areas? Chances are, if you live in a rural area or on a farm, you may need to give your panels a good scrub every three to four months.
This also applies to flat solar panels. Their owners need to clean their panels more frequently than others because rainwater won’t do a good job of rinsing off any debris.
Step-by-Step Guide: How to Clean Solar Panels
Now, it’s time for some cleaning. Use our how-to guide to make sure your solar-powered system is in excellent condition at all times.
Remember to read the manufacturer’s user guide before you start. It should provide complete instructions on how to wash and maintain their panels.
Step 1: Choose the Right Time of Day
It’s better if you start cleaning early in the morning or late evening. Working when the sun is in full force will only make the washing harder. Plus, you may end up getting a heat stroke.
Another thing to watch out for is surface damage. When water hits the hot glass surface, the sudden temperature change can create tiny fractures in the panels. These small cracks will cast shadows and reduce the panels’ efficiency.
Step 2: Shut Down Your Home System
Before you begin, make sure the entire solar panel system is shut down. The user manual should list the proper way to go about shutting down the system.
For DC systems, you can find the disconnector switch between the solar panel array and power inverter. It’s placed there to provide homeowners and firefighters with easy-to-reach access in case of emergencies.
To turn off AC systems, shut down the Solar Supply Main Switch. Simply move the switch to the ‘off’ position.
Step 3: Block Off Rainwater Tanks
Do you have rainwater tanks? If yes, then it’s probably connected to the guttering system. In this case, your next step will be to disconnect them temporarily. It ensures that none of the dirty water running off the panels runs into the rainwater tank.
Some of the water will inevitably reach the back of the panels. Yet, even with the system shut off, try not to direct the hose toward these areas as much as you can. You should also avoid getting the water in-between the panels and the roof.
Step 4: Clean Solar Panels From the Ground
Solar panels can be hot to the touch and cause you to injure yourself. They can also be slippery when wet, which can result in slips and falls.
This is why it’s better if you clean them from the ground. There’s no reason to get on the roof and risk injuring yourself.
Step 5: Get Your Supplies Ready
Here are the basic cleaning supplies you’ll need.
Experts recommend you use a hose and a non-abrasive sponge or soft brush attached to a telescopic rod. They help you reach even the most stubborn of stains without scratching the glass cover.
Start by brushing any loose materials to help make the entire process go faster. Then, when you’re done washing the panels, you can use a squeegee to dry them off. Otherwise, the water may leave behind a layer of film, and all your hard work will be for nothing.
A Mild Solar Panel Cleaning Soap
Your manufacturer’s manual should list whether you can use certain cleaning fluids. As a general rule, it’s best to stick with only water unless the smudges need something more powerful.
So, what’s the best cleaning agent to use on panels if they’re covered in stubborn grime, bird poop, or other stains? You can safely use any type of mild soap or detergent. They’re non-abrasive, so they won’t scrape the surface.
The type of water you use can make a huge difference. If you use water with high mineral content, it can leave a thin layer of particles or grime on the panel surface.
This is why experts suggest you use distilled or deionized water. One way is to filter the water with a hose attachment that distills the water and makes it softer. Or, you can get store-bought distilled water.
Now that you’ve distilled the water, how do you get it to reach the top of the panels? Easy. You can use your regular garden hose with a suitable nozzle. A good nozzle makes it easier for the stream to get to those hard-to-reach spots.
Try to avoid cleaning solar panels with a high-pressure washer. The force of the pressure can damage the panels and cause them to crack.
In general, it’s good to know how to clean solar panels. With proper care, you can boost their effectiveness and extend their lifespan. You don’t need to waste money on professional solar panel cleaning services.
Why not wash them yourself? All you need is a garden hose and a few other items you probably already have at home. Add some elbow grease, and you’re all set!
The important thing is to give them the level of attention they deserve. In return, they’ll provide you with reliable energy for many years to come.