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Benefits of Cleaning Solar Panels. Solar panel cleaning soap

Benefits of Cleaning Solar Panels. Solar panel cleaning soap

    Benefits of Cleaning Solar Panels

    Have you noticed your solar system is producing less energy lately? Debris buildup interferes with a solar panel’s ability to absorb sunlight, causing a drop in energy production. Keeping your solar panels operating at maximum efficiency is just one of the benefits of cleaning your solar panels.

    If you want a return on investment with your solar panels, it starts with making sure your solar panels stay clean.

    What are Solar Panels?

    You probably associate solar panels with the advantages of saving money and reducing your carbon footprint by providing a renewable energy source. A solar panel absorbs sunlight and converts it into usable energy, supplying buildings with clean energy.

    Solar panels are expensive, although fortunately tax credits and rebates are available to help offset the cost. Solar panels require a lot of room, so you’ll want to make sure your roof is suited for hosting a solar array.

    Lifespans vary depending on the type of solar panel, but on average, solar panels typically last 25 to 30 years.

    The process of solar panels converting sunlight into energy occurs in a few steps:

    • Solar photovoltaic cells absorb sunlight.
    • The collected sunlight is converted into direct current (DC) power.
    • The DC power passes through an inverter to convert it into alternate current (AC) power.
    • The AC power is then transported to outlets. From there, it provides power to the building.

    Excess energy can be stored in a solar battery if you have one. Solar batteries save extra energy for a cloudy day. Otherwise, excess energy can be supplied to the power grid in exchange for tax rebates.

    Benefits of Cleaning Your Solar Panels

    Soiling occurs when dirt and grime accumulate on the surface of a solar panel. The layer of grime decreases panel performance.

    Solar panel productivity is dependent on the amount of sunlight it absorbs each day, so regular solar panel cleaning helps ensure that it continues producing optimal output. Cleaning your panels is an important part of solar panel maintenance.

    Increases Energy Efficiency

    Clean panels produce more energy than dirty panels, and can boost efficiency by up to 30%. You don’t want your solar panel system to decrease in productivity, so it’s important to keep them clean and performing optimally.

    Usually, solar panel owners can monitor the solar energy output of their solar array by tracking it on a monitoring app. You should check the progress of your solar panels every so often to see if there have been any unusual decreases in productivity. If so, it may mean that the solar panels need to be cleaned.

    Improves ROI Time

    If you have underperforming solar panels, it means you are losing money. You want your solar panels to pay themselves off as quickly as possible. Once the panels have paid for themselves, then the energy your solar panels are producing is saving on energy bills.

    The more consistent the output, the quicker the solar panels will pay themselves off and start saving you money on electricity bills in the long run. If you procrastinate on cleaning your panels, their underperformance will cost you money.

    Warranty Conditions

    Many solar panel manufacturers offer warranties that demand regular cleaning as a condition of the warranty agreement. Failure to regularly clean your panels could mean your solar panels are no longer covered because it voids the warranty.

    Increases Lifespan

    When dirty, technological solar equipment is likely to fail sooner than equipment that is kept cleaned and well-maintained.

    Accumulated gunk on solar panels will ultimately decrease the durability and productivity of the device. It can even decrease a panel’s lifespan. So don’t allow your solar panels to sit coated in a layer of grime for a long time.

    Keeps Aesthetic Appeal

    No one wants to look at a dirt-crusted solar array. Maintaining a clean solar panel system improves the home’s curb appeal and keeps your solar array looking sleek and modern.

    Prevents Hot Spots

    Hot spots occur when parts of your solar panels overheat due to dust buildup. Hot spots deteriorate a solar panel and decrease its lifespan. Keeping the solar panel clean protects it from developing hot spots.

    Chance for Inspection

    Cleaning your solar panels gives you the perfect chance to inspect them. Before you start cleaning the panels, you can examine them for damage and assess whether they need any repairs. It also allows you a chance to inspect the rest of your roof.

    What Causes Solar Panels to Get Dirty

    The outdoors is a great place to be, but it also can be messy. Inevitably, your solar panels will get dirty. Here are some things you will have to clean off your panels:

    • Dirt
    • Dust
    • Bird droppings
    • Foliage
    • Leaves
    • Pollen
    • Pollution
    • Salt
    • Sap
    • Smog
    • Smoke
    • Snow
    • Wind
    • Water stains

    Rain washes off some of the grime on solar panels. The problem is that rain itself carries dust particles, which makes solar panels dirty and leaves behind water streaks. A little rainwater might not be enough to wash away things like bird droppings and water stains.

    Solar panels in dry-climate states such as Arizona, Nevada, or Utah require more frequent cleanings due to the amount of dust in the air. Areas with smog or dust pollutants also soil your solar panels more quickly,

    On top of that, solar panels are generally set relatively flat toward the sky so they are fully exposed and directly catch a lot of dirt and grime. To avoid water stains, panels are usually set at a slight tilt so that they can properly shed rainwater.

    Do’s and Don’ts of Cleaning Solar Panels

    Before you get started with your cleaning project, here are some helpful tips and tricks you should know. They will help you achieve the best results as well as provide advice on how to clean your solar panels safely.

    DO turn off solar panels. Before anything else, the first thing you should always do is to turn off the solar panel system. Never clean solar panels while they are still turned on. Rinsing a solar panel with water while it is still turned on is extremely dangerous. It can lead to electrocution.

    DO clean panels from the ground. Never climb onto your roof unless absolutely unavoidable. Always clean solar panels from the ground or from the edge of a roof if possible. Use a long-handled brush for reach.

    DO use soft-bristled brushes. Abrasive or hard-bristled brushes can damage a solar panel, so always use soft-bristled brushes and soft clothes for cleaning. Less abrasive materials protect your roof from abrasion and scratching.

    DO dry off the panels. After you finish rinsing the solar panels with water, you should dry them off with a soft cloth. Just like when you wash your car, don’t let water air dry on your solar panels, as that will leave behind nuisance water stains.

    DON’T use a pressure washer. Never use a pressure washer or any jet blasts of water for cleaning solar panels. Pressure washers use forceful jets of water to clean off grime. This will surely result in cracking the glass or otherwise damaging your solar panel system.

    DON’T walk on solar panels. Never walk on solar panels. Solar panels are expensive technological gadgets that are not designed for foot traffic, so don’t step on them. Putting your full weight on a panel could crack the glass or damage the wiring.

    DON’T clean solar panels in the heat of the day. Sunlight charges photovoltaic solar cells, which warms up the panels. Avoid cleaning the solar panels when the device is hot, as the temperature shock of cold water can cause the glass to crack and water evaporates more quickly off of hot solar panels, which can leave behind residue. Instead, clean your panels during mornings, evenings, overcast days, or cool days.

    DON’T use cold water. Keep in mind the temperature of the water you are using for your solar panels. Don’t use cold water if the solar panels are warm, and conversely, don’t use hot water if the panels are cold. Sudden extreme temperature changes can cause the glass to crack. Because solar panels absorb heat, they are generally warm, so you should use lukewarm water.

    DON’T use hard water. Hard water contains high levels of minerals which leave behind white residue and water stains. Instead of hard water, use calcium-free water or distilled water, which is free of chemicals.

    Best Way to Clean Solar Panels

    Be cautious when cleaning your solar panels. Although they are tough enough to weather the outdoor elements, they have some delicate parts and wiring. Water leaking inside the panel or using the wrong cleaning chemical can ruin your solar panel system. When it comes to solar panel maintenance, you need to use a cleaning method that won’t harm them.

    Regular solar panel cleaning is important. Here are some ideas for cleaning equipment you can use for getting debris off of your solar panels.

    Automated Sprinkler System

    If you want your solar array to be self-cleaning, automatic sprinkler systems can be installed on your roof to keep your solar panels clean. These automated cleaning robots are programmed to spray down your solar array with water, automatically rinsing them.

    The benefit of automatic cleaning robots is that they require no human labor. Without lifting a finger, you can create a cleaning schedule to ensure your solar array is cleaned at regular intervals.

    It saves you the expense of hiring a roofing contractor or risking injury from a DIY job.


    The best way to scrub off dirt from your solar panels is to wash off the dust and grime with a hose. Sometimes a simple rinse is enough to remove the accumulated dust, dirt, and pollen, although you will need to dry off the panels afterwards in order to prevent water stains.

    Soft Brush

    If a simple hose rinse-down isn’t enough to effectively clean panels, use a squeegee, sponge, or soft brush to scrub off any stubborn debris clinging to the surface.

    Don’t use a hard-bristled brush, and don’t scrub too hard. You don’t want to damage or scratch the solar panel glass.

    Ideally, you want to find a long-handled brush so you can scrub the panels from the edge of the roof so you can avoid climbing on top of your roof unless it is absolutely necessary.

    Soft Cloth

    Use a soft cloth to scrub or dry your solar panels. Make sure not to use any abrasive or rough materials. Definitely do not use steel wool for cleaning a solar panel, as that is certain to scratch the solar panel.


    If it’s only a case of dust and you want to do a quick cleaning job without the waterworks, you use a broom to sweep off the dust covering your solar panels.

    The broom needs to be fairly soft and malleable; don’t use a broom with rough bristles. Gently clean so as to not damage or break the machinery.

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    Leaf Blower

    If a lot of leaves accumulate on your roof, you can blow them all away with a leaf blower. Leaf blowers are also useful for dislocating dirt gathered on the surface of your solar panels.


    If you want to give your solar array a thorough cleaning, you can clean them with a soft brush, water, and vinegar.

    Not every type of vinegar is safe for cleaning the surface of your solar panel, so stick to using white vinegar or another approved cleaner.

    To create a vinegar solution, mix these ingredients together:

    Do not use cooking vinegar. Cooking vinegar has higher levels of acid that will damage the solar panels. White vinegar is the best kind of vinegar to use for cleaning solar panels (and anything around your home).

    Cleaning Solution

    Soaps and detergents are not great for cleaning solar panels, as they tend to leave behind streaks that hinder the panel’s ability to absorb sunlight. Water stains caused by soaps defeat the purpose of cleaning the solar panels in the first place and make it easier for dirt and dust to cling to your roof.

    Only use mild, non-abrasive soaps. Avoid harsh soaps such as laundry detergents. If you want soapy water for a cleaning solution, try using mild soaps such as dish soap. Just make sure the soap is properly diluted in water.

    Don’t use acidic or alcoholic solutions. These cause damage to the solar panels.

    Always be careful about which cleaning chemical you use, as some cleaning solutions are harsh chemicals that could harm your solar panels.

    Cleaning Kit

    You can purchase cleaning kits for solar panels. These kits come with all the equipment you need to do the job. Typically, these pre-arranged kits include tools such as:

    • Biodegradable soap
    • Soft-bristled brush
    • Wiper
    • Squeegee
    • Soft cleaning cloth
    • Extension pole

    Cleaning the Solar Inverter

    A solar inverter, the device that transforms energy absorbed from the sun into usable electricity, requires cleaning every so often if you want them to keep producing solar power.

    Solar inverters are placed outside, leaving them exposed to the elements and prone to getting dirty from all the dust wafting through the air. Dust inside an inverter can damage the circuit board and cause circuit failure. If that happens, the device will stop working.

    Solar inverters require regular maintenance. To clean an inverter, simply wipe it down with a cotton cloth to remove dirt and dust. Don’t pour water over a solar inverter. Simply using a damp cloth or a little water spray should suffice for cleaning off your inverter.

    Every so often, you also need to have a technician clean out the air intake filter. Do not attempt this task yourself; call an experienced professional.

    How Often Should You Clean Solar Panels?

    On average, you should clean your solar panels two to four times a year. It all depends on the area you live in and how much rain you get. In some areas, solar panels may only need to be cleaned once a year.

    Some factors that affect how often your solar panels need to be cleaned include:

    • Drought. Even in areas that aren’t normally dry or dusty, a drought can cause more dirt to infiltrate the air, which leads to your solar system getting dirtier faster.
    • Dry areas. Areas that don’t receive frequent rainfall are dustier, so panels in arid, desert-like areas get dirtier more quickly, and thus require more frequent cleanings.
    • Smog. Smog dirties solar panels, causing them to need more frequent cleaning.
    • Trees. Where there’s trees, there’s leaves and pollen. Leaves and pollen both obstruct solar cells from receiving sunlight and converting it into energy.
    • Wind. The wind carries around debris such as pollen, dust, dirt, and leaves, and brings them all right to your roof.

    If you live in an area with a lot of dust, you’ll probably have to clean your solar panels more frequently in order to keep them regularly producing solar power.

    DIY or Hire a Professional to Clean Solar Panels?

    Now comes the big question: Should you hire a professional to clean your solar panels, or should you do the job yourself? While the decision is ultimately yours, you should consider the pros and cons of both options.


    It is possible to clean solar panels yourself with a regular garden hose and your own vinegar cleaning solution.

    If you decide that you’d prefer a DIY job, gather the materials before you start. Don’t just think about cleaning supplies – you’ll also need safety equipment for your protection. Here is a list of things you’ll probably want to have on hand for a DIY cleaning job:

    • Ladder
    • Hose
    • Cleaning solution
    • Harness
    • Hard hat
    • Work gloves
    • Cleaning solution
    • Brush
    • Cleaning cloth

    If you plan on cleaning your panels yourself, you should have a partner to help you.

    Hire a Professional

    A big advantage of hiring a pro is that you won’t have to deal with the hassle of purchasing all the equipment yourself. Trained professionals already have all the equipment they need for a solar panel cleaning project:

    • Specialized brushes
    • Ladders
    • Harnesses
    • Water tanks
    • Cleaning solutions

    In addition to cleaning your roof, a contractor can check for damage or issues with your solar panels and repair any problems with your solar system. On average, the cost for solar panel cleaning services ranges 5 to 35 per panel.

    Some good reasons to hire a professional for solar panel cleaning:

    • You don’t have the right equipment. If you don’t already own a ladder, harness, or any of the cleaning supplies you need, you may want to hire a pro.
    • You are comfortable and experienced with climbing on a ladder and roof. Specialists are professionally trained to clean solar panels on roofs, so they are far less likely to sustain an injury when working on top of a roof. If you aren’t comfortable with being on a roof, then you should hire out the job.
    • You have physical limitations. If you are elderly or have any physical limitations, call a contractor to clean your panels for you and don’t take unnecessary risks.
    • You don’t have time. Employing a professional solar panel cleaner saves you both time and effort so you can FOCUS on other things.

    Hiring a trained specialist doesn’t only reduce personal risk, it also reduces the risk to your solar panels, as well. If you are inexperienced with solar panel cleaning, you won’t risk mistakes such as accidentally using the wrong kind of chemical cleaning solution or scrubbing too hard and scratching the roof.

    FAQs About the Benefits of Cleaning Solar Panels

    Yes. Windex is a good cleaning product for solar panels that you can easily spray on your solar panels to clean them. It is a cheap product that you can find for sale in many stores.

    You can purchase a brush for cleaning solar panels from multiple companies, including Amazon, supermarket stores like Wal-Mart, or hardware stores such as Home Depot.

    Solar panels are generally hardy and durable, as they are built to withstand rough weather conditions such as hails, storms, and high winds. However, some of the wiring is delicate and they do have a front surface made of glass, so they are susceptible to breakage if not handled properly. Solar panels are not easily damaged, but they should always be treated with care to prevent them from getting damaged.

    A Time to Clean

    There are multiple options for cleaning your solar panel system: hire a solar panel cleaning company, do it yourself, or purchase an automatic cleaning machine. You will have to consider what works best for your lifestyle and your budget.

    If you think hiring a professional solar panel cleaner for the job is best, then contact a solar panel cleaner today.

    Danielle Gorski

    Danielle Gorski lives with her family in Texas. She has a degree in Professional Studies and a minor in marketing. Her hobbies include reading, drawing, and writing.

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    Best Tips for Industrial Solar Panel Cleaning

    Have you installed a solar panel system for your industry and want to maintain its power output? Then you need to keep up with the cleaning. Solar panels are laid out in the open, and there are many things that can make them dirty and prevent them from running to their full potential. In this article, we will help you learn the best tips to clean your industrial solar panels.

    How Do Industrial Solar Panels Work?

    Industrial solar panels use the energy from the sun that falls on photovoltaic panels that release free electrons in order to generate electricity. These solar panels are made of silicon, and since they are semiconductors, they create an electrical field with the help of positive and negative layers. These layers are made of boron and phosphorus. The plates generate AC, and an inverter is used to convert it into DC for industries to use.

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    There are many benefits of using industrial solar panels that can push you to finally install a system. For instance, you will be self-sufficient when it comes to electricity and you will not have to worry about any changes in the grid electricity.

    Furthermore, industries contribute greatly when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, and if you want to run a large operation, it is better for you to switch to sunlight. This will help you keep your production as high as you can and ensure that you don’t impact the environment negatively.

    Therefore, as an industry, you must think about making the switch to solar so you can not only protect the environment but also ensure that your business excels. However, things do not end there after you have installed the solar panels. You need to ensure that these panels work to their maximum potential, and to do that; you must keep up with the cleaning and maintenance.

    Best Tips For Industrial Solar Panel Cleaning

    There are several ways you can keep your solar panels clean but you need to ensure that the cleaning methods you use are in accordance with your solar system and will give the best cleaning possible.

    Solar panels are not high to maintain but they do require regular cleaning so they keep running to their maximum potential. There are several things that can accumulate on solar panels, for instance, solar panels can gather a lot of dirt, bird droppings, and even fallen leaves. It is very important for you to clean them off properly so the panels can perform at their maximum potential. Here are some of the best tips you can use to clean your industrial solar panels.

    Brushes Sponges (Soap-less)

    There are many solar companies who have discovered that with the help of deionized water and a brush, they can easily clean the panels without using soap at all. Soap should not be used when cleaning solar panels because soap usually leaves a residue on the panel. Not only will that affect the efficiency of electricity production, but the soap also causes the panels to gather dirt. Therefore, it is best not to use any cleaning agents.

    Other companies also use a mixture of sorts such as diluted vinegar and hydrogen peroxide using a brush to remove all the dirt.


    One of the best and most effective ways to clean your solar panels is to hire a cleaning company or ask your solar provider to do it for you. These experts will manually clean your solar panels. These companies have the best tools and experts that help them do the job perfectly.

    These companies might even use the latest technologies; you can rely on them to clean the solar panels as expertly as they can. You can trust them to do a good job. They will also ensure that the system remains unharmed and is cleaned thoroughly.

    Nanoparticle Coating

    This is one of the latest technologies for solar panels. The solar system accumulates a lot of dirt. This is because the material is as such. Dust can easily settle here, and if your industry is in a dusty place, then you can expect a lot of dust on the panels that you must clean regularly.

    However, with nanoparticle coating, you will add a film to your solar panels that prevent any dirt or grime from accumulating on them. No matter what temperatures you live in or how dusty the area is, your solar panels will remain safe from dirt accumulation. You can easily clean the panels off with water, and the panels remain as good as new. Furthermore, the coating is transparent. This means that it will not affect the production of electricity.


    Companies that operate on a large scale can use robotics for their solar panel cleaning. These robots are both automatic and semi-automatic that are designed exclusively to clean solar panels. Robotics is a very convenient option because they can easily clean the solar panels that are in hard-to-reach places. For instance, solar panels on roofs and greenhouses are hard to clean.

    You can also get fixed roof robots if you have a bigger installation for your industry and are located in a very dusty area such as the desert. These robots use airflow to clean off the dirt and grime, this is because if they were to use high-pressure water, it would damage the panels and ruin the efficiency. These robots also run on solar power and can easily recharge themselves between each cleaning cycle.


    Vibrating solar panels can also be an effective way to clean the surface. Some companies use a DC motor on the panel to vertically vibrate it and get rid of all the dust. With this technique, you can minimize the chances of damaging your solar panels.

    How To Know When It Is Time To Clean Your Commercial Solar Panels

    It can be difficult to tell if your solar panels need cleaning and maintenance if you are new to the concept of solar panel systems and have only recently installed them.

    You Can See The Dirt

    One of the most obvious telltale signs of a dirty solar panel is that you can easily see the dust on it. You can climb onto the roof or wherever you have kept your solar panels and inspect them for dirt, bird droppings, and grime.

    Once you are convinced that the solar panels are dirty, you must contact an expert immediately and ensure that you clean them as soon as possible so it does not affect the efficiency of your solar panels.

    Poor Efficiency

    If you have been noticing a drop in the efficiency of your solar panels and there is no reason for that to happen then it is mostly because of dirty solar panels. If dirt is accumulated on solar panels, they will not receive the amount of sunlight they should, and that can affect the production of electricity.

    Suppose you feel that the solar panel system is fairly new and the depreciation in electricity generated is higher than normal. In that case, you must consider getting your solar panels professionally cleaned.

    Once the surface is completely clean, more sunlight will fall on the panels causing them to generate more electricity.

    It Has Been A Long Time

    If you want to maximize your solar panel usage and ensure that it produces good amounts of electricity, then you must maintain it properly. Solar panels should be maintained regularly to prevent any dust or dirt from accumulating. It is best to clean your solar panels every year to ensure that they are operating as efficiently as they possibly can. However, you can decrease the duration between every clean cycle if you feel that your solar panel system needs cleaning.

    Solar Panel Cleaning and Maintenance: The Best Methods

    Solar Panel Cleaning and Maintenance: As more and more people use solar panels to power their homes, it is also important to know how to clean and care for solar panels to keep them working well. Solar panels are exposed to the weather, which can make them dirty and work less well. In this post, we will talk about the best ways to clean and care for solar panels in your home.

    Regular Cleaning

    In order to ensure that your solar panels are working properly, you will need to clean them often. They must be cleaned at least twice a year. If you live in a dusty or polluted place, then clean the solar panel more than twice. To clean the solar panel, use gentle soap and a brush with soft bristles. With this, the dirt accumulated on their surface can be cleaned properly. Be careful; avoid using rough objects or high pressure water, as these can scratch the surface of the solar panel.

    Keep the panels in the shade while cleaning them

    Avoid cleaning solar panels when they are extremely hot. You clean them early in the morning or late in the evening. When the sun is not so bright. This prevents the panels from getting too hot and the cleaning fluid from drying up too quickly.

    Do not use strong chemicals

    When you clean your solar panels, don’t use harsh chemicals. Such chemicals can damage the surface of the panels and make them less effective. Instead, gently scrub away dirt with a combination of water and mild soap.

    Look for problems

    Check your solar panels regularly for damage, such as cracks or chips. If you notice any damage, you should have the panels repaired by a professional. Damaged panels can make your solar system less efficient and produce less electricity.

    Trim the trees around the solar panels

    Trees and other plants near your solar panels can block the sun, making them less effective. For this, pruning of any tree or plant can be done. So that your panels can get proper sunlight. “Keep in mind that you should avoid cutting any tree or plant, as it helps keep your environment cool.”

    Routine Check-up

    Make sure your solar panels are performing well by checking them often. An expert can look at the panels to see if there are any signs of damage or low efficiency and can repair them if necessary.

    Lastly, you need to clean and care for your home solar panels to make sure they keep producing as much electricity as possible. By using these tips, you can keep your solar panels in good condition and get the most out of the money you invest in solar energy.

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    What Homeowners Should Know About Solar Panel Cleaning

    The appearance of any unknown substance on your solar panels can be a cause for concern. One of our customers recently contacted us about a dusting of white powder they saw on their panels. Our examination revealed that the culprit was pollen that had accumulated on the solar panels, so there was no reason to panic, as the panels were still producing energy, they just needed a good cleaning.

    We suggested that they could start by spraying the pollen off using a water hose to clean the panels. Then we recommended that they sign up for a thorough panel cleaning service at least once per year. It would prevent build-up in the future and ensure maximum efficiency and savings from their solar power system.

    This homeowner’s concerns got us thinking about the sort of solar panel cleaning questions that most homeowners have:

    • Do solar panels need cleaning?
    • What solar power cleaning tasks can you do on your own?
    • When should you hire a professional cleaning company to clean your solar panels?
    • Will cleaning your solar panels improve their performance?

    This article will answer all your concerns regarding these and other questions.

    What are the Causes of Dirty Solar Panels?

    You need to oil, maintain, and clean your car so it runs more efficiently. Others want their house Windows to be crystal-clear and grime-free so they can enjoy the view of their property. For many of the same reasons, your solar panels also need cleaning. Accumulated leaves, bird droppings, and other debris can block a significant amount of the sun’s rays, reducing your system’s efficiency.

    Bird Droppings

    We all love trees, as they beautify and freshen up our property. But birds also love them for nesting or chilling spots. If branches hang over your solar panel array, you should be prepared to do some extra cleaning.

    Bird droppings tend to be more notorious than dust, leaves, and pollen, especially if they harden and stick on the panels. The accumulated debris from birds can block significant light from the sun, and it’s more difficult to remove just by spraying your panels with water.

    Thankfully, products and services exist that can indicate if bird droppings affect the current flow in your solar energy system. Microinverters help with this, as the technology allows you to see when a single panel is generating less electricity because of blockage or debris.

    Pollen and Leaves

    Pollen has evolved into a sticky material that doesn’t dissolve in water. As a result, it can be harder to clean since it doesn’t just blow away in the wind. If you live near farmlands or areas with a lot of vegitation, expect pollination agents like wind, insects, and birds carrying pollen to pass over your panels and drop some of it on them. In fact, windy weather is more likely to blow pollen onto your panels in the first place instead of blowing it away.

    You may also need to deal with leaves falling on your panels, especially if your trees are deciduous, meaning they lose their leaves each year in the fall. While dry leaves just blow away in the wind, wet leaves typically stick to panels as heavy rain can act like glue.

    Dust and Dirt

    Dust and dirt is a common enemy of solar power systems, and its effects go beyond the accumulation of grime. It’s true that sun rays may still pass through a thin layer of dust, and wind or rainwater can quickly sweep most of it off. But if your PV array is located near dustier areas such as farmlands, main roads, cement factories, and quarries, the story changes. Your solar panels will need special attention and frequent cleaning as they have to contend with far more dust and dirt.


    Now, you may be thinking, “Wait. You told that customer to use water to clean their panels. Why is it on the list?”

    Fair question! The issue has to do with the pooling of cleaning or rainwater on horizontal solar arrays. Apart from simply reducing your solar energy generation, the water layer can leave a muddy residue after evaporation, necessitating more frequent cleaning.

    Do Solar Panels Need Cleaning?

    Like anything that stays outside every day and night, solar panels will eventually accumulate dirt. But how frequently you may have to wash your panels depends on several factors, including:

    • System design
    • Installation angle(s)
    • Size/number of panels
    • Location
    • Types of dirt
    • Weather
    • Duration between thorough cleanings

    So, do solar panels need cleaning? Our definitive answer comes in three parts:

    Answer #1: Yes, and You Can Do It Yourself

    Bird droppings and other dirt agents can affect your solar panel’s performance, especially if your panels lie truly horizontal on the roof. That’s where washing the panels becomes important, though it doesn’t have to be a thorough or routine cleaning in many cases.

    As we suggested to the customer with the white powder on their panels, cleaning your solar panels is usually a relatively easy task. All you need to do is to spray the panels with average-pressure water from a well-angled garden hose while standing on the ground.

    If you want extra cleaning power, a long-handled squeegee or soft brush plus a medium-pressure hose nozzle can work wonders. With the nozzle, directing the spray will become easier. You’ll then wipe off the water using the squeegee for maximum electricity production. This approach provides even more cleaning power, but it does depend on the angle of your roof, roof height, and panel placement, because not everyone will be able to reach their roof, even with a long handle.

    Answer #2: Yes, but You Don’t Need to Do Anything

    Maintaining your panels is essential, but you don’t need to clean them as often as most people think. You may need to remove the occasional buildup of leaves, bird droppings, and other debris to maximize the amount of sunlight exposure your panels receive. Any regular wind and rain will typically sweep off most of the dirt, so it’s better to let nature take its course and only do one thorough cleaning every year to maximize energy production.

    When it comes to doing any thorough cleaning and maintenance, it’s best to hire a professional with the knowledge and tools to get the job done safely and correctly the first time.

    Answer #3: No, Unless Something Really Bad Happens

    Researchers at the University of California left solar panels on a roof for 145 days without cleaning. Their findings? The panels’ energy generation efficiency dropped by 7.4%.

    It may surprise you that the efficiency of your solar panels can remain intact over a long period, considering all that exposure to debris, dust, heat, and rainwater. But you can trust your panels to withstand the regular wear and tear of the elements.

    Solar companies employ only the leading technologies and engineering skills when manufacturing their products. Their design processes usually account for the effects of dirt, water, and pollen from everyday use.

    You still need to be on the lookout for any obvious structural issues with the panels, supports, and roofing.

    Can Cleaning Solar Panels Improve the Performance of PV Systems?

    As we’ve seen so far, the short answer is, The impact of dirty solar panels on solar power production depends on various factors. But we’re interested in the long answer, right? Let’s dig into the science and math a bit:

    An experiment involving solar panels on a low-slope roof sought out the difference in energy output before and after a thorough cleaning.

    The researchers found an average 3.5% boost in energy production (the amount of power produced over time) after cleaning the panels using a soft rag and water. The implication here is that the energy yield increase was low, despite the high amount of dirt accumulation.

    Things became interesting when heavy rain did the cleaning job. The average performance increased by only 1.9% after rainwater pounded on the dirty panels. What does that mean? A good shower from the skies can take care of some cleanup, but it’s not as effective as the proper equipment and some elbow grease.

    You may want to check how much your dirty solar panels are costing you in terms of energy generation. Here’s a simple formula for determining the value of solar panel cleaning:

    Yearly Energy Production (kWh) × Production Loss From Dirty Panels × Electricity Cost per kWh

    For example, if your residential solar energy system can produce 10,000 kWh of electricity per year, and you assume a 5% loss of production due to panels being dirty, and you pay 20 cents per kWh for electricity from your utility, your yearly cost of electricity loss from dirty panels is as follows:

    A 5% electricity production loss might not sound like a lot, but it can definitely add up, and suddenly you’re paying way more to your utility company on your electricity bill than you need to be.

    The Science of Cleaning Your Solar Panels

    Yes, rain helps wash solar panels and keep dirt at bay, but it comes with several downsides, which can lead to noticeable performance problems on panels set at low angles:

    • Rainwater comes laden with pollen and dirt
    • It can pool on the surface of your panels, especially if the glass surface sits lower than the frame
    • Once the rainwater evaporates, it can leave behind a muddy residue

    So, should we rule out the need for cleaning solar panels? Not yet. Researchers at Google’s solar farm have a different story.

    In one set of their experiments, they studied 1.6MW of horizontal solar panels on flat carports in Mountain View, California. These panels operated untouched for 15 months.

    After cleaning them, they realized that the energy production from their carport solar panels had doubled overnight! Eight months later, they cleaned those same solar panels and learned that the output had gone up by 36%.

    So, what’s our conclusion? All solar panels still need frequent cleaning, especially if they’re horizontal or almost horizontal on your roof. If yours are tilted appropriately, a reasonable amount of rainfall will get them mostly clean, but a scheduled annual visit from cleaning professionals may further help your overall renewable energy output.

    How Can I Clean My Solar Panels?

    Cleaning your solar panels doesn’t have to be extensive or risky work. If you’ve decided to clean your panels yourself, what matters is that you follow these cleaning tips to keep both you and the solar system safe.

    When in doubt, just remember that you can always call in the professionals to get the job done safely and efficiently. Because some solar installers are only focused on new installations, they don’t all offer services like solar panel cleaning. If that’s the case, rest assured that Palmetto can still provide any of your solar service and maintenance needs.

    Tips for Cleaning My Solar Panels

    Before setting out to clean your panels, you must keep in mind one crucial point: Avoid scratching or damaging the glass at all costs. You don’t want your energy production to plummet.

    When cleaning solar panels, you will always be gentle with them by using these solar panel cleaning tips and tricks:

    • Solar panel models are not all created the same. It’s prudent to check with your product’s manufacturer to see if they have specific instructions for cleaning.
    • Consider using a garden hose first. But if grime and dirt have built up on your equipment, it’s time for a thorough cleaning.
    • Most likely, the only equipment you need is a bucket with clean, warm water, a soft cloth, dish soap, and a soft brush or squeegee.
    • Pick an evening, a morning, or a cool day to do the cleaning. You don’t want to get burned by hot panels on a sunny day. If it’s too sunny, the soapy water can evaporate before you get time to wipe it away, which can leave a smear or residue that can reduce your panels’ efficiency.
    • Avoid splashing cold water on a hot glass surface. It can lead to cracks due to sudden contraction.
    • Apply the warm water and dish soap on the panels’ surfaces using a soft cloth or sponge. Do NOT clean the wiring underneath.
    • Use a squeegee to get rid of dirty water.
    • Never step on your panels, as this can damage them and cause premature failure.
    • Avoid brushes with sharp bristles that can scratch your solar glass surface.

    If you live near an airport or a route frequented by trucks, expect to find a few oily stains on your panels. In this case, you can use a rag and a little isopropyl alcohol to remove them.

    Pro Tip: Strong cleaning fluids should not touch your expensive investment at all. Harsh chemicals and liquids like laundry detergents, ammonia, and acids can react with or streak the glass surface, leading to damages and a loss of energy production.

    How Often Should I Clean My Solar Panels?

    In most cases, you only need to clean your solar panels once or twice per year. We recommend scheduling your annual cleaning routine during the spring. That avoids the heat of summer and harsh elements of winter.

    However, your solar panels might need extra attention in some locations. For example, the Southwest US experiences more significant dirt accumulation because of limited rainfall. Also, panels in homes near airports, factories, freeways, and other sources of pollution will need more frequent cleaning.

    Winter and autumn are other special cases. Removing heavier-than-average snowfall and leaves can boost your solar performance significantly.

    Do I Clean Off Snow?

    We get it. heavy snowfall days can make anyone nervous about their system not generating enough energy. However, snow on your solar power panels usually melts away quickly, thanks to the heat created by the solar panels, and their slick surface. Snow on a panel melts faster than on an empty roof due to the high difference in heat between the two surfaces.

    But if the snow is taking longer to melt and your battery storage is running low, you don’t have to wait. You can brush the snow off your panels to get them back to producing power right away.

    Make sure you use the right equipment to avoid damaging your investment and compromising its warranty. Thus, shovels, standard brooms, and other non-specialized tools should not come anywhere near your panels. A suitable snow roof rake created for the task will come in handy here. They typically cost around 30 to 150.

    Can I Use a Pressure Washer When Cleaning My Solar Panels?

    No. Not at all. High-pressure water is among the biggest enemies of your solar equipment.

    First, high-speed moisture can quickly force its way through the seals around the frames and get into vulnerable technology. These water leakages can promote corrosion of the fine wires, which leads to the failure of the solar panel and its photovoltaic cells.

    Also, the glass surface can break under high water pressure. We hear you asking, Why then don’t we see damage resulting from continuous rainfall pounding on the glass? That’s because panels are designed to resist hours of heavy rain falling across a wide surface area. But washing the panels with high pressure directs a focused beam of water in a highly concentrated spot, which creates an increased chance of stressed areas that can crack.

    What is Localized Soiling?

    Localized soiling of solar panels is when material like bird poop, leaves, and any other heavy blockages get stuck on your panels, but only cover part of the panel. Compare that to general soiling, where material like dirt and dust covers the entire panel surface.

    When rain and wind fail to remove localized soiling, this sort of debris may block some parts of the equipment, leading to hot spots.

    Your panel is made of several individual cells (60 in most cases). When localized soiling blocks sunlight from reaching one of the cells, its energy production drops. However, full current flowing from the adjacent cells may pass through the affected one. The result is overheating at that cell, a phenomenon that can cause damage to the panel.

    Yes, modern solar panels come with multiple built-in bypass diodes to keep hot spots at bay. But those extra-dirty areas can still lead to damage over time that can increase your solar panel maintenance cost.

    Key Takeaways

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