Complete Guide to Cleaning Solar Panels
Solar panels require direct exposure to sunlight to function.
The better the sunlight exposure your solar installation gets, the greater amount of energy is produced.
So it is reasonable to hold a grudge against dirty solar panels when your profits are shaded by dirt and dust.
We will share some tips about cleaning solar panels and how you can keep solar production high with minimum efforts, so you can keep your installation performing well throughout the panel lifetime.
What Causes Dirty Solar Panels?
Solar panels become dirty over time as they are exposed to dust and pollutants floating in the air.
Dust can build up on PV modules even more quickly if the installation is close to industrial complexes or construction sites.
Solar installations on farms are also known to accumulate fertiliser and nitrogen-rich particles that can gradually corrode solar components.
Bird poop is also a notorious source of shade that not only reduces energy production but can also cause hot spots on solar panels.
How Much Can Cleaning Solar Panels Impact Energy Production?
Depending on how filthy the panels are, cleaning solar panels can improve energy production by 5-10%.
Quick calculations will show that cleaning small residential systems would only improve your energy bill by tens of dollars, so you might as well leave it to rainwater to rinse the solar panels on your angled roof.
But a 5-10% lift in energy production can move the needle on commercial and utility-scale solar farms, and those are situations where you might consider a regular PV panel cleaning schedule or even hiring professional panel cleaners.
When Do You Need to Clean Your Solar Panels?
It is best to clean your solar panels when they get dirty enough to make a dent in energy production.
With the most advanced monitoring systems available with microinverters and power optimisers, you can easily compare panel-level outputs to pinpoint soiled panels or when the whole system is producing less-than-expected energy production.
Flat-installed solar modules are also known to be resistant to self-cleaning with rainwater, as the water settles on the panels to leave behind dirt.
Google found cleaning the flat solar panels installed on carports can improve energy production by 36%.
What Are the Best Ways to Clean Solar Panels?
Whether you are a seasoned solar panel cleaner or a residential solar system owner, you need the right tools to clean solar panels efficiently and safely.
A water hose from ground-level can work wonders in most cases
Rinsing rooftop solar from the ground-level with a hose is the safest cleaning method in most cases.
The water spray should fall on the solar panels like rainwater and let gravity do the heavy lifting.
When bird poo proves to be a tough opponent to your man-made shower, be patient.
A second or third pass of the water hose should remove most of it after the bird dropping has been softened by the water.
Staying on ground-level also means there is less risk of falling.
Use isopropyl alcohol to clean stubborn stains
If you are able to safely climb up the roof for a closer wash, you can use isopropyl alcohol to clean oily smudges without leaving any mark.
We don’t recommend detergent or soap to clean stubborn stains, as they tend to leave residue on panel glass that can attract more dirt in the future.
Make sure you do not stand on the solar modules under any circumstance.
Any pressure on the solar panels risks creating microcracks that can reduce energy output.
Use soft brushes and plastic scourer to make short work of scum
Only brushes specifically designed for solar should be used with water to scrub panels clean of dirt.
Cleaning solar panels: how to do it properly
Solar panel cleaning is a controversial topic. Some believe that solar panels don’t need washing at all and that their owners can rely on rain. Others even advocate for special cleaning products for solar panels that are being advertised by manufacturers. Let’s look at the question — when and how to clean solar panels — more closely.
It takes more than rain to wash solar panels
Some time ago Google engineers conducted an experiment: they left some panels on a solar farm in California unwashed. After 15 months, engineers cleaned them and the production instantly doubled. Then they performed cleaning again 8 months later and the output rose by 36%. These panels were installed on the ground, but experts suggested that rain might be enough to keep panels on the roof clean.
If PV system production levels dropped, try cleaning them!
However, not everybody agrees on the latter. Rain does wash away most of the debris and dirt, but not all of it. The most obvious parallel is a dirty car: at some point, you can’t rely on rain anymore — you have to take it to a carwash.
The dust and debris don’t cause a huge loss in production by themselves — maybe they’ll decrease the output by 5% at worst. But some studies show that not washing your rooftop solar panels at all results in a substantial drop in efficiency in 2-3 years because of these layers of mud. After all, solar panel systems do need some care to prolong their lifespan which normally surpasses 20-25 years.
A drop in production hints at right time for cleaning
There are two ways to decide whether or not your solar panel system needs cleaning. The first is through physical examination. If there is a lot of debris, mud, and bird spots, then it’s time to get to work.
how often should you clean solar panels at home on average
The second way is by looking at a monitoring system. If you noticed that the performance of your panels has dropped, the dirt might be a reason for that. Monitoring also answers the question “How often do solar panels need to be cleaned” — you can figure out the right frequency by comparing efficiency numbers before and after the cleaning. Generally, 1-2 times a year is enough, but the cleanliness of your panels depends on the weather and the area you live in.
Cleaning ground-mounted solar systems is straightforward. The question of how to clean solar panels on a roof can be more challenging. If you don’t feel like climbing on top of your house, there are companies that offer cleaning services.
How to clean solar panels? It’s a lot like washing Windows
Cloudy days are best for cleaning Windows — and panels
Solar panels are mostly all alike when it comes to cleaning them. The manufacturer or your installer might give you guidelines on the care and cleaning of solar panels.
Pick a cool, cloudy day to wash solar panels, just as you would for washing Windows. When it’s hot, water evaporates too quickly and leaves residue. Solar panels don’t like sudden changes in temperatures and by applying cold water to them on a hot day, you risk cracking them. In the early hours of the day morning dew might soften up the mud for you, making the task a bit easier.
Here is how to clean solar panels yourself:
Turn off your solar panel system. Gather your materials — water, equipment, and any cleaning products. Place them on a roof if you’re climbing up or somewhere around if you’re cleaning panels from the ground. Spray down solar panels. Just take a hose and wash all the debris away. Sometimes this is all it takes. Where water wasn’t enough, scrub the spots with a brush or sponge. Start from the top as the dirty water is coming down. Rinse. It’s better to use filtered or deionized water for this — it doesn’t leave any traces. You can use a squeegee to remove excess water just like you would when cleaning a window. Let the panels dry and turn them back on in 30-45 minutes. This sums up the process of DIY solar panel cleaning.
Follow the safety rules! The best option is cleaning solar panels from the ground without having to use a ladder. There is a variety of different brushes on the market that can help you with that. If you’re determined to climb up, make sure to wear the right kind of shoes that won’t let you slip and have someone watching your back.
No special equipment needed
A hose is the best tool for cleaning solar panels. While using it, try not to splash water on the back of solar panels or at the gap between the panels and the roof — too much can cause malfunctioning. Solar panels are tested to endure extreme hails, but high water pressure is not recommended. For that reason, it is best to abstain from using pressure cleaners.
To back up the hose, you will need a brush, a sponge or a soft cloth — they will help you to get rid of difficult stains. Avoid using anything with a hard bristle as well as anything that can scratch panels. A squeegee can help get rid of excess water at the end of cleaning.
In autumn fallen leaves become a problem. The best solution to that is a leaf blower. In the wintertime, snow heaps may block the sunlight for your system. If your roof is tilted, be patient and restrain yourself from climbing up with a shovel — the heaps should slide off it anyway.
Cleaning products help with difficult stains but don’t use soap
You won’t need cleaning products for washing solar panels in most cases — plain water does the job. Some recommend using filtered water, deionized water or even a mixture of diluted vinegar and hydrogen peroxide for maximum efficiency. Mineral water may leave traces and its components don’t sit well with glass.
Soap leaves a residue that reflects light and makes dirt stick
It is better to not use soap because it leaves film or residue that increases the reflectivity of panels and makes it easier for dirt to stick. Do not wash your panels with hot water — it may temper the glass.
There are situations where water isn’t effective enough. If your house is located near a factory, an airport or a highway, your solar panels are susceptible to smog or any other kind of pollution. This is where cleaning products for solar panels come in. You can get them from manufacturers or simply order them on Amazon. They also might come in handy in areas where water is an expensive resource in itself — in arid areas or a desert.
You can use unspecialized cleaning products but be careful — make sure that any of its components won’t react with solar panels. For example, laundry detergents are not a way to go — some of them may cause stains and you would have to find a way to get rid of them in addition.
Water footprint of solar industry gets worrisome — MIT finds solution
water used annually for cleaning modules around the world
Cleaning solar panels with water on a global scale becomes problematic though. People use over 10 billion gallons of water per year for cleaning modules around the world, say MIT experts. That’s enough water for the yearly needs of 2 million people! The water also has to be clean, and filtering it makes up around 10% of the operating costs of solar installations.
MIT engineers might have found a better solution. Sreedath Panat, an MIT graduate student, and Kripa Varanasi, a professor of mechanical engineering, used electrostatic repulsion to make the dust fall off the panel without the help of water. The idea is to apply a thin transparent conductive layer on a solar panel’s surface and then pass an electrode with an opposite charge above it. This will impart the charge to the dust particles and then the panel will be able to repel the dust.
The idea should work as long as the humidity is above 30%, say the researchers. Even in the deserts the air meets this threshold in the morning hours. The engineers claim that this system of cleaning can be operated by a small motor powered by PV modules, thus making the system fully self-sufficient.
With a degree in Linguistics, Tatiana uses her vast experience in technical translation to deliver complicated concepts in simple words. She joined the company in 2020 as a contributing writer to become the person to influence Blog’s development.
How To Clean Solar Panels, How Often, Maintenance Trick for Max Power
Installing solar panesl on your home to supplement, or fully power it is an awesome way to help the planet, but did you know that learning how to clean solar panels correctly can have an impact on the performance of your panels?
Dirt, dust and grime can interfere with the productivity of the panel and also shorten its lifespan.
And, you can’t simply count on the rain to do it for you.
Fortunately, it’s not as complicated as it sounds.
Knowing how to clean solar panels – and how not to clean solar panels – is essential to maintaining their energy efficiency. Fortunately, cleaning most solar panels is closer to household cleaning than industrial labor.
Common household items and common safety measures can keep the solar panel operating optimally.
You can easily learn how to clean solar panels and how often you should do it using this complete guide…which will ensure that you retain maximum power output.
Where Can I Learn How Often To Clean Solar Panels?
Due to external factors such as varying climates, the physical placement of the solar panels, and the location’s fauna and pests, there is no standard answer to how often solar panels should be cleaned.
Environments that are more prone to dust accumulation – such as deserts with low precipitation and high winds – will require solar panel operators to perform more frequent cleaning.
Visible accumulation of debris and significant reductions in energy capture are strong indicators that solar panels are due for cleansing.
Visual inspections and energy monitoring will often indicate when a solar panel needs to be cleaned. When a solar panel looks dirty or starts to produce less energy, you should take care of it.
How To Clean Solar Panels: 7 Steps
Fortunately, the techniques used for cleaning household Windows are exactly how to clean solar panels.
Simply spraying water removes most of a solar panel’s grime, and the combination of a non-abrasive brush and glass-friendly cleaners can take care of more difficult impurities such as biological stains.
The only major complication is applying safety precautions.
Homeowners and cleaning personnel should ensure that solar panels are powered off during cleaning.
It’s also a good idea to ensure that the panel can be accessed safely, so never do the job on a roof by yourself.
How To Clean Solar Panels From the Ground
Cleaning solar panels from the ground is not different from cleaning common glass fixtures such as Windows and glass doors.
However, it’s vital to FOCUS solely on the reflective side of the solar panel and avoid contact with a solar panel’s underside.
How To Clean Solar Water Heater Panels
Unless the manufacturer’s documentation states otherwise, the guidelines on how to clean solar panels are the same for cleaning solar water heater panels.
Consider hiring a professional if the solar water heater panels are installed on high places such as roofs that feature a steep grade.
How To Clean Solar Panels on Garden Lights
The process of cleaning solar panels on garden lights is like cleaning household and industrial-sized solar panels.
Though non-abrasive household cleaners are often sufficient, checking the manufacturer’s documentation is advised.
Typically, it’s safe to use a window cleaner on these easy-to-reach solar panel garden lights.
How To Clean Cloudy Solar Light Panels
The process of cleaning solar light panels uses similar materials and steps as cleaning solar panels.
Solar light panel operators should FOCUS on cleaning the plastic and erring on the side of using non-abrasive cleaning tools and solutions.
If you have cloudy panels, it may be an issue with the manufacturing, or the panels could simply be aging. In either case, check with your manufacturer first. They may have a simple solution.
How To Clean Solar Panels on Roof
Contracting a third-party solar cleaner is ideal for rooftop installations that you cannot safely reach on your own.
If you do not have the equipment and training to reach precariously placed solar panels, contact professionals.
How To Clean Solar Lights
Treat solar lights the same way you would treat solar panels.
Make sure that the photovoltaic panel is clean, without dirt and grime, and check it every month.
Solar Panel for AC Unit: Cleaning Considerations
Solar-powered AC units frequently require multiple solar panels to operate properly.
However, unless the manufacturer’s documentation states otherwise, the guidelines and tools for cleaning a solar panel for AC unit are the same as how to clean solar panels for other uses such as general energy generation and water heating.
Cleaning Solution for Solar Panels
With regards to cleaning, most solar panels can be treated similarly to household Windows. Cleaning solutions commonly found in supermarkets are acceptable if they’re non-abrasive.
Mixtures of soap and water will work as well, but it’s advisable to strongly dilute the soap (to prevent any leftover buildup).
Most of a solar panel’s dust and debris can be removed with water. Rainwater acts as a natural dust remover. Hoses are an acceptable solution if the water is soft, and it is sprayed from a safe distance.
However, there’s more to solar power than installing a panel and enjoying sunny days and lower electricity bills.
Maximizing the benefits and lifespan of solar panels requires consistently monitoring and maintaining the panels.
Carbon Footprint: Solar Panels Lower Than Utility Costs
When properly implemented and installed, solar panels can be a powerful method of reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.
Addressing the climate change crisis and reducing the global carbon footprint will require multiple actions at once.
Switching from dirty energy sources – such as oil and natural gas – to environmentally-friendly energy will be crucial to the world’s survival.
Cities, groups, and individuals switching to renewable energy such as solar power will be one crucial step toward reducing the average American’s carbon footprint.
One acre of solar panels generating clean energy can generate up to 447 megawatts per hour; replacing an equivalently-producing dirty fuel with carbon footprint solar panels can lower the release of carbon dioxide by 138 metric tons a year. 1
Although solar panels have a heavy eco-cost during production and disposal, the current benefits, especially to homeowners, is significant.
Benefits of Cleaning Solar Panels
Maintaining energy efficiency is one of the most vital benefits of cleaning solar panels. Dust, grime, and biological stains block the sun’s rays, so routine cleaning is crucial to maximizing energy efficiency.
Routine cleaning also extends the lifetime operation of solar panels. Removing stains and particles before they can inflict long-term damage is a key component of solar panel maintenance.
Consequences of Leaving Solar Panels Dirty
Failure to routinely clean solar panels can dramatically reduce their energy efficiency. One month of gathering dust and other ray-blocking impurities can lead to a 30% drop in a solar panel’s energy-capturing ability. 2
In addition, excessive buildup of dirt and grime can damage solar panels. Biological waste and large quantities of dust can cause problems such as scratches and hot spots.
Size of Standard Solar Panel: Myths Versus Reality
The size of standard solar panel depends on the size of its solar cells, the number of its solar cells, and its intended use. Most solar panels used for residential and industrial buildings have square cells with side lengths of 156 millimeters (approximately 6.14 inches). 3
Solar panels for residential use commonly have 60 cells. When those cells are arranged in a 6-by-10 grid, the resulting solar panel would be 1.56 meters long (roughly 5.12 feet) and 0.94 meters wide (about 3.07 feet).
Solar panels for commercial use often have 72 cells. When those cells are arranged in a 6-by-12 grid, the resulting solar panel would be 1.872 meters long (roughly 6.14 feet) and 0.94 meters wide (about 3.07 feet).
Solar Panel Cleaning Tips
Prior to any cleaning attempts, review the documentation that corresponds to the solar panels. Solar panels can vary significantly by manufacturer, so complying with the manufacturer’s instructions and warnings is essential when formulating how to clean solar panels.
Clean their solar panels during the coolest parts of the day. Excessive heat can cause water and cleaning solutions to evaporate, which can lead to efficiency-reducing smears and streaks.
So, early morning or late evening is the best time.
Since solar panels are electrical devices, an error can seriously injure a person who is attempting to clean it without the proper access, or damage the solar panel. This is especially the case for solar panels installed in high areas such as residential roofs.
Avoiding Common Mistakes During Solar Panels Washing
Non-professionals should not leave the ground in attempts to clean solar panels. High and hard-to-reach solar panels should be treated by professionals who have the experience, training, and equipment to safely reach and cleanse them.
Cleaning materials that scratch household glass will also scratch solar panels. Applying hard water and coarse cleaning agents will permanently damage solar panels.
Do not attempt to clean any part of the solar panel other than the surface.
Attempting to clean the underside of the solar panel or other concealed parts could lead to injury or damage.
Solar Panel Maintenance
Regular monitoring is the best method for solar panel maintenance.
Routinely monitor solar panels’ energy efficiency as well as any indicators or alerts from inverters and other monitoring tools.
Consistent exposure to shade, in addition to lowering solar panels’ energy collection, can damage solar panels. When shade routinely or completely covers a solar panel, the solar panel can develop hot spots, parts of the solar panel whose temperature is significantly higher. 4
Failure to resolve consistent shade issues could drastically reduce the solar panel’s lifespan or completely break it.
Do Solar Panels Need Cleaning?
Do solar panels need cleaning regularly? Yes. Knowing how to clean solar panels is essential to preserving their energy efficiency.
Accumulation of dust, grime, and other impurities can dramatically lower the amount of energy they capture.
And some types of grime can permanently damage solar panels.
How Much Does It Cost To Clean Solar Panels?
Cleaning residential solar panels at ground level can frequently be completed with household items and over-the-counter cleaning tools. The cost for these do-it-yourself cleanings is comparable to the cost of a bag of groceries.
Professionals typically charge between 15 and 25 per panel. In addition, they may charge between 150 and 300 for panel inspections.
Do I Need To Turn off Solar Panels To Clean Them?
Solar panels must be deactivated prior to any cleaning attempts, even if no liquids are being used.
Solar panels that are actively collecting energy pose electrical hazards for those who would attempt to clean them.
How Long Do Solar Panels Last?
Solar panels’ operational lifetime varies due to a variety of factors, including the type, the manufacturer, and the environment.
However, some types of solar panels, properly maintained, can operate for up to 30 years before they need to be replaced.
Do Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days?
Solar panels can capture indirect sunlight.So, when asking, do solar panels work on cloudy days, the answer is yes, but limited.
Although the energy generated from indirect sunlight is lower, solar panels can still function and generate electricity on cloudy and overcast days.
As an unintended benefit, cloudy days can make solar panel cleaning easier. Overcast days with lower temperatures give you additional flexibility when scheduling cleanings, as the cloudy weather often leads to lower temperatures.
Also, rainfall acts as a natural dust remover, washing away loose particles that accumulate on the solar panel.
When Is the Best Time of Day To Perform a Solar Panel Wash?
A general rule of thumb is to clean solar panels at the coolest parts of the day. Like watering plants, cleaning solar panels in the morning prior to peak heat is optimal, though an early-evening cleaning will suffice.
Cleaning solar panels can sound like a daunting task at first.
The process is very similar to cleaning Windows and glass doors. Applying soft, soapy water and a soft-bristled brush once a month is often as complicated as cleaning solar panels can be.
And the benefits of these easy and cheap actions can be dramatic. Consistent and careful solar panel cleaning can maximize the solar panel’s lifespan and energy capture.
And a few minutes of washing solar panels can prevent costly and time-consuming technical issues that would otherwise require costly repairs or replacements.
However, it’s imperative to ensure that solar energy is applied in an environmentally friendly way and treated as part of a multi-faceted solution instead of a cure-all. Failure to properly clean and maintain solar panels can negate their benefits or even be detrimental in terms of energy consumption and environmental impact.
Proper installation and usage of solar panels can be an effective way to reduce carbon emissions, but solar panels’ benefits – both to the person who is cleaning them and to the environment – can be enhanced when you know how to clean solar panels correctly.
Carbon Footprint: Solar Panel Manufacturing In 1 Simple Explanation
How Many Solar Panels Do I Need? Calculator Shows Correct Sizing (Free)
How To Test Solar Panels’ Power Output (Both With and Without a Multimeter)
Solar Farm Income Per Acre Calculator: See Profit Margin, Costs, Money Made
1 Eisenson, M. (2022, October 26). Solar Panels Reduce CO2 Emissions Per Acre Than Trees — and Much Than Corn Ethanol. Columbia Climate School. Retrieved March 9, 2023, from
2 Chandler, D. L. (2022, March 11). How to clean solar panels without water. MIT News. Retrieved March 9, 2023, from
3 Wikipedia. (2023, March 9). Solar cell. Wikipedia. Retrieved March 9, 2023, from
4 Tinker, L. (2016, September 16). Getting the Most out of Solar Panels. Energy Gov. Retrieved March 9, 2023, from
The complete guide to the cleaning and maintenance of solar panels
Rooftop solar panels may become dirty as a result of exposure to dust and pollution.
With that being said, is it necessary to clean solar panels? Does dirt interfere with solar energy production? Don’t the wind and rain provide sufficient cleaning? Should this task be carried out by a specialized cleaning company?
Look no further than this guide to find out everything you need to know about the cleaning and maintenance of solar panels!
What are the components of a solar installation?
First and foremost, let us introduce the two different terms discussed in this article:
- Solar panel cleaning: this entails washing the panels like Windows. The cleaning may be combined with preventive maintenance of the solar collectors.
- Solar panel maintenance: this refers to technical maintenance carried out by a professional and should ideally take place once a year.
The reason why photovoltaic panels must be cleaned is to ensure solar panel efficiency. An unclean panel runs the risk of producing less electricity and thereby reducing the profitability of the installation.
For that matter, the cleaning and maintenance of solar panels encompasses all types of solar installations, including:
What are the components of a solar installation?
The main components of a grid-connected photovoltaic installation are:
- The photovoltaic solar panels
- The support structure
- The inverter or the microinverters
- The direct current (DC) circuit breaker and protection unit
- The alternating current (AC) circuit breaker and protection unit
The main components of a solar thermal installation are:
- The thermal solar panels
- The primary and secondary circuits
- The heat exchanger
- The heat storage tank and hydraulic pumps
- The expansion tank
- The tubes
- The main control panel
The main components of a hybrid solar installation are:
- The hybrid solar panels which contain the heat exchanger
- The support structure
- The inverter or the microinverters
- The direct current (DC) circuit breaker and protection unit
- The alternating current (AC) circuit breaker and protection unit
- The primary and secondary circuits
- The heat storage tank and hydraulic pumps
- The expansion tank
- The pipes
- The main control panel
There are a myriad of companies which offer cleaning services for each of these solar panels.
When to call upon the services of a solar cleaning company
Enlisting the aid of a solar panel cleaning company is a reasonable choice for very large installations known as solar farms or solar parks.
Why is that? Because if we build off the premise that unclean solar panels deliver a.5% solar output, this translates into a significant energetic shortfall in the context of a very large installation5% is an average calculation presented by the International Solar Energy Society. Declined efficiency will be discussed in more detail in a later paragraph regarding verification through monitoring
Apart from this scenario, a residential user need not necessarily secure the services of a cleaning company as long as the panels are slightly tilted. If the panels are laid flat, there is a higher chance of dirt build-up.
When all is said and done, cleaning solar panels is an uncomplicated procedure that you can take care of just as well as a professional. If you have a small installation, it pays off to clean it on your own because the cost of professional cleaning would exceed the estimated energy gain associated with clean solar panels.
As a matter of fact, you may also ask your solar installer to clean your panels while he is performing routine technical maintenance. He can execute this task in complete security.
Preventive maintenance involves booking an appointment with your solar installer to verify that everything is in order. This procedure should generally occur once a year and differs from curative maintenance, which involves the resolution of an identified fault or failure.
How frequently should solar panels be cleaned and maintained and during what time period?
Ideally once a year
In truth, there is no regulatory maintenance frequency to adhere to with respect to your solar installation (whether photovoltaic or thermal). It all depends on where it is installed and how rapidly it accumulates dirt.
All the same, you should aim for an annual inspection as part of a maintenance contract with your solar installer. At any rate, this is what we advise our DualSun clients to do. Therefore, cleaning can also occur at this time.
In reality, the cleaning frequency of a solar installation depends on its location. A solar panel will certainly accumulate dirt more quickly if it is particularly exposed to agricultural dust, bird droppings, sand or pollution.
Alternatively, a long period of drought can also contribute to dirt build-up on the panels seeing as they do not benefit from a natural rain rinse.
The optimal period to clean solar panels
There is no optimal period to clean one’s solar panels. However, the end of winter seems to be a more favorable time to clean them because the sun returns and output levels are on the rise.
Bear in mind that your solar installer may be very busy during this time since it is also the ideal period to perform installations. So expect a Rapid intervention on his part.
Lastly, there is no specific time of day to clean your solar panels either. Nevertheless, to avoid interfering with the solar output, you may want to opt for dawn or dusk when the panels are less warm.
Types of solar panel maintenance operations
Verification through monitoring
Apart from a visual appraisal of your collectors, the best way to know if your solar panels need to be cleaned is by verifying your solar output. Has it decreased due to unclean solar panels? If that is the case, a lower-than-normal output level will notify you that it is time for a cleaning.
The DGS eV, which is the German section of the International Solar Energy Society, states the following in the Photovoltaic Guide: on average, an unclean photovoltaic solar panel generates 2 to 7% less energy than a clean panel.
However, a very sharp drop in production levels is more so indicative of a technical problem. Therefore, if efficiency levels drop by more than 10%, you should have your system serviced by a professional.
Your solar monitor provides all these details. Simply log in to your online interface and verify your energy output data.
The tools needed to properly clean photovoltaic panels
To clean the surface of the panels, all you need is soft, lukewarm water and a non-abrasive sponge. Nothing more.
Please be aware that applying cold water to a warm panel could result in thermal shock, thereby damaging your panel. Furthermore, cleaning with hard water may leave white residue on your glass panels and thus affect their performance.
If possible, use a telescopic pole to avoid taking the unnecessary risk of climbing onto your roof.
Last but not least, it almost goes without saying that you should avoid leaning too heavily on your panels.
What to avoid when cleaning solar panels
Certain cleaning products can damage the solar panels and should therefore be avoided:
- Hard water. It can leave white residue that diminishes photovoltaic output.
- Abrasive sponges. They may scratch the panels.
- Very cold water: Using very cold water on a warm panel can result in thermal shock and permanently damage the solar panel.
- Very high-pressure water. This can damage the joints in the panel frame. Kärcher-type high-pressure cleaners must therefore be avoided.
- Solvents and detergents. Such products may damage the surface of the solar collectors.
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Photovoltaic cleaning and maintenance
As we previously stated, solar panels can only perform at an optimal level if they are clean and free of any object or element that could block the sun’s rays. This includes shade!
In France, there is sufficient wind and rain to adequately clean and rinse off photovoltaic solar installations, but you may also wipe down the panels with a sponge if you wish.
As far as maintenance is concerned, it serves to remind that photovoltaic solar panels do not require any special technical maintenance.
That’s right. They are extremely reliable and sturdy— and can operate for up to 30 years! All you need to do is ensure an occasional verification of the cables, the output meter, and the inverter. A mere glance at the monitor will alert you to an unexpected drop in production levels.
Thermal solar panel cleaning and maintenance
The cleaning procedure is similar to that of any other panel type.
However, this type of solar installation requires rigorous thermal maintenance based on recommendations outlined by each manufacturer in part. These are specified in the care and maintenance manuals.
The thermal maintenance of an installation is carried out by a solar installer once a year, at which time he:
- Verifies the water pressure by using the pressure gauge to ensure that it is not less than 1 bar. If the pressure sits below 1 bar, this could jeopardize the circulation of the glycol water and negatively affect the entire solar installation.
- Controls the quantity of glycol, which is the antifreeze found in the panels. There must be enough glycol to prevent the panels from freezing in the winter.
- Monitors the operation of the installation’s safety devices, such as the mixing valve at the outlet to the domestic hot water tank or the solar safety valve.
- Ensures that the installation is perfectly sealed and waterproof. Confirms the absence of fluid leaks on the accessible portions of the system.
- Verifies the pump, the expansion tank, and the electrical connections.
All actions performed on the thermal installation must be recorded by the installer in a maintenance notebook and safeguarded so as to ensure precise tracking throughout the service life of the installation.
Hybrid solar panel cleaning and maintenance
The distinguishing feature of hybrid solar panels is that they combine two systems in one: photovoltaic panels on the front and thermal panels on the back, towards the roof.
Hybrid solar panels are cleaned in the exact same way as a photovoltaic or thermal panel, meaning with soft, lukewarm water and a non-abrasive sponge.
As far as of the photovoltaic side is concerned, this procedure is identical to that of a classic panel, which consists of verifying the cables, the production housing, and the solar inverter.
Maintenance of the thermal side is similar to that of a thermal solar installation. The difference is that solar hybrid panels such as DualSun do not overheat. This advantageous feature preserves the heat transfer fluid as well as the panel components for a longer period of time, rendering it unnecessary to replace components and therefore drastically reducing maintenance costs.
Please note that a solar panel maintenance guide is made available to anyone who wishes to install a DualSun hybrid installation.
Inverter and housing maintenance
To begin with, we remind that the solar inverter is an indispensable part of a solar installation which converts direct current output into alternating current. It also comes in a smaller format, called a micro-inverter.
Maintaining an inverter is a hassle-free task. Once a year, the air inlets must be cleaned so that the device can cool down properly. The indicator lights and various displays must also be checked at this time.
This procedure limits the decreased productivity of the device at the end of its service life. It should be noted that a solar inverter has an estimated service life of about 10 years. In addition to being cleaned and maintained, it will need to be replaced at least once during the service life of the photovoltaic system.
Last but not least, we turn our attention to the other connector housings. Their maintenance consists of dusting off and verifying the indicator lights.
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