To ensure your solar panels are running efficiently and will last you years to come, correct cleaning and maintenance of each panel is a must. Thankfully, solar panels don’t have too many moving parts that make cleaning difficult, but the process is still one that should be handled with care. In this guide, we’ll go over how to clean your solar panels properly, what they’re made of, how often you should clean them, and the materials you’ll need. Keeping your panels properly cleaned and kept up will ensure they operate at their best for as long as you have them.
Why and How Often You Should Clean
There are many different kinds of solar panels, so it’s always best to first check your manufacturer’s documentation to see if they have any specific guidelines. Most solar panels are made of silicon and glass and they usually just sit in place, which means cleaning can be a relatively simple task. Flat panels usually require more cleaning than tilted panels, on account of factors like rain providing more thorough cleans already.
Solar panels, by definition, get very hot. That means for your own safety, as well as the safety of the panel itself, it’s best to avoid cleaning in the afternoons when they’re heated the most. A splash of cold water onto a sizzling panel could end up cracking the glass. These cracks could be small enough to be unnoticeable but will reduce the effectiveness of the panels over time. Cleaning in the late evenings or early mornings could help significantly lower the risk of damage as the panels will be much cooler at those times.
Most panels don’t need to be maintained on an extremely often basis, as the usual dust and debris gathered aren’t enough to effectively deter the panels from working properly. Findings published in the online issues of Solar Energy indicate that panels can be untouched for several months have a negligible effect on the effectiveness of the panel, as areas with occasional rainfall are usually enough to rinse out the panels of most dirt and buildup. Regardless though, it is still a good idea to clean on occasion, especially for areas without frequent rainfall. By performing a side by side comparison between a clean panel and a dirty one, the effects on power output are noticeable and significant, with dirtier panels losing up to 30% energy efficiency in some cases.
How to Clean
The materials for cleaning panels can be as simple as using a hose and water. Make sure you also have a ladder and the proper safety equipment if climbing on a roof. Going over the wet surface with a washcloth and making sure you scrape off any kind of thick debris will make sure you get everything in reach cleaned properly.
For harder to reach sections of the panel; using a mop, broom, or hose attachment and brush will clear out the rest. Using non-abrasive scrubbing tools will ensure your cleaning process won’t leave damage on your panel. Avoiding metal and detergent will prevent harmful stains as well. For anyone lacking the proper equipment, there are specific tools for solar panel cleaning. Kits like these are all in one tools that usually include all you need for a safe and efficient clean.
At the end of the day, a thorough rinse, wash, and scrub are standard procedures for most solar panel cleaning jobs that will leave your panels in a much better state than they were previously. Clean panels will offer more power output, efficiency, and keep them running for many years longer.