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How To Clean Solar Panels (2023 Guide). Cleaning solar panels diy

How To Clean Solar Panels (2023 Guide). Cleaning solar panels diy

    How To Clean Solar Panels (2023 Guide)

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    • Cleaning Solar Panels
    • Understanding Solar Panel Components
    • When and How Often To Clean Solar Panels
    • Preparation for Cleaning
    • Step-by-Step Guide Cleaning Solar Panels
    • Maintenance
    • The Bottom Line

    Leonardo David is an electromechanical engineer, MBA, energy consultant and technical writer. His energy-efficiency and solar consulting experience covers sectors including banking, textile manufacturing, plastics processing, pharmaceutics, education, food processing, real estate and retail. He has also been writing articles about energy and engineering topics since 2015.

    Tori Addison is an editor who has worked in the digital marketing industry for over five years. Her experience includes communications and marketing work in the nonprofit, governmental and academic sectors. A journalist by trade, she started her career covering politics and news in New York’s Hudson Valley. Her work included coverage of local and state budgets, federal financial regulations and health care legislation.

    Solar panels are very durable — the best solar companies now offer a 25-year product warranty, and most panels have a typical lifespan of 25 to 30 years. However, photovoltaic (PV) cells are only productive when sunlight can reach their surface, so knowing how to clean your solar panels is important. Read on for a step-by-step guide on how to clean your solar panels to prevent dust and debris build-up from reducing your system’s power output.

    clean, solar, panels, 2023, guide, cleaning

    The Importance of Cleaning Solar Panels

    If dust build-up blocks 50% of the sunlight reaching your solar panels, their energy output can drop by half. This decrease in productivity can negatively affect electric bill savings — if you were previously saving 100 each month, you might notice that savings drop to around 50 a month.

    Regular cleaning helps keep your solar panels operating at optimal capacity, which means your system generates its expected electricity output. A dirty solar energy system does not operate at maximum efficiency, which can result in higher power bills and, as a result, a longer payback period. Professional solar panel cleaners use the term “soiling losses” to describe the efficiency loss caused by dust and dirt buildup on your PV system.

    Understanding Solar Panel Components

    Solar panels consist of photovoltaic cells fully encapsulated by other materials, which prevents exposure to dust, dirt, bird droppings and weather conditions. However, grime can accumulate on external surfaces over time, which you should clean regularly. Here are some tips to clean different solar panel components:

    Cleaning the Glass Cover

    A transparent glass cover protects the PV cells in a solar panel. Ideally, you should clean the glass surface with non-abrasive cleaning tools like a soft bristle brush or squeegee. Avoid using wire brushes, roof rakes or any other tools that may leave scratches.

    You can wash solar panels with a garden hose, but you should never do this when they are hot since the drastic temperature change can crack the glass. Keep in mind that solar modules may still be hot after sunset, especially on summer days.

    Make sure you have a clean water supply when cleaning your panels. Washing your panels with hard water will leave behind a mineral layer after the water evaporates, defeating the purpose of the cleaning process.

    Cleaning the Aluminum Frame

    Solar panels have an aluminum frame that holds all other components together. Solar manufacturers use powder coating and other treatments to improve corrosion resistance, making the aluminum frame suitable for outdoor use. However, the frame is constantly exposed to dust, just like the glass cover.

    Since the aluminum frame is corrosion-resistant, you can wash it safely with a standard water hose. Never use a pressure washer: it can damage the seals around the aluminum frame, and you may void the product warranty. Cleaning solutions with detergents or other chemical agents can also damage the seals and should be avoided.

    If your panels have not been cleaned in a long time, washing may not be enough to remove grime. In this case, you should brush away dried-up dirt before using a hose. You should avoid chemical agents in general but can use a small amount of soapy water to clean spots with excessive dirt buildup.

    Cleaning the Polymer Backsheet and Junction Box

    The back of a solar panel is covered with a backsheet, typically made of a durable polymer. The back surface also contains a junction box with electrical terminals used to wire multiple panels into a string circuit.

    Since the backsheet and junction box are not always outward facing, these components require less cleaning than a panel’s glass cover and aluminum frame.

    • In rooftop solar installations, the backsheet and junction box are hidden by a small gap between the back of your panels and the surface of your roof. This positioning creates minimal exposure to dust and dirt.
    • But a ground-mount system or solar carport exposes your panels to dust from all directions. In this case, the back surface may also need frequent cleaning.

    You can follow the same cleaning recommendations for the glass cover and aluminum frame to clean the backsheets. Soft brushes and non-pressurized water are suitable, but avoid pressure washers and chemical agents.

    Never open the junction boxes or manipulate electrical connections in any way. If your solar installation includes a workmanship warranty, you can contact your provider to inspect any electrical malfunctions. Many companies also offer professional solar panel cleaning services.

    When and How Often To Clean Solar Panels

    Many solar manufacturers and installers recommend cleaning your solar panels at least two times a year, but cleaning needs can vary depending on site conditions. Your panels may need additional cleaning if your home is close to a construction site or industrial zone. You can expect large amounts of dust in the air, which can accumulate on your PV system in a short time. Be mindful of locations with high concentrations of trees or other foliage as leaves and pollen can also build up on your panels.

    If you live in a place with frequent rainfall, your panels will require minimal cleaning during their service life since rain washes away most of the dirt for you.

    Preparing for Solar Panel Cleaning

    We at the MarketWatch Guides Team only recommend cleaning solar panels on your own if you can safely access your system from the ground or have a flat roof. The task should be left to a professional cleaner if you need to climb your roof or other tall structure to access your panels.

    Solar Panel Cleaning Checklist

    In general, you need the following tools to clean your solar panels:

    • A non-abrasive cleaning tool such as a soft brush or a squeegee
    • A water hose
    • A telescopic extension pole, in case you need to reach solar panels on a roof

    If you are not comfortable cleaning your panels on your own, contact your solar installer for professional panel cleaning services.

    Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Solar Panels

    You can clean your solar panels more efficiently by following these steps:

    Brush Away Dried-Up Dirt and Residue

    Washing your solar panels is quick and effective when they are not very dirty. However, spraying water is counterproductive when there is a lot of dust and grime. Water and dirt create mud when mixed, which will dry up on your panels. Use a soft brush to remove dried-up dirt, bird droppings and other debris when your panels are dry.

    Wash Your Panels with Clean Water

    Once you have cleaned dried-up dirt and debris, you can wash your panels to remove any remaining dust and particles. Make sure your water supply is clean and avoid high-pressure nozzles. You do not need to wipe your panels dry since the water will evaporate on its own.

    Remove the Remaining Dirt

    If your solar panels are very dirty, brushing and washing may not be enough to clean them completely. You can scrub trouble spots with water and normal soap, but avoid detergents and other strong cleaning agents.

    Maintaining Your Solar Panels Between Cleans

    Solar panel maintenance not only involves frequent cleaning. You should also monitor energy production on a regular basis to rule out electrical issues. Many solar inverters include a monitoring app for homeowners, which you can use to track daily power generation with your smartphone.

    Low productivity is normal on overcast days since your solar panels are exposed to minimal sunshine. However, you should call your solar provider if the monitoring app shows lower-than-average electricity output on a sunny day.

    The Bottom Line

    The best residential solar panels have a 25-year warranty to cover product and installation issues but still need regular cleaning to stay productive. Dust buildup negatively affects panel efficiency, which can reduce your power bill savings.

    Do-it-yourself (DIY) cleaning is suitable if your solar panel system is installed on the ground or on a flat roof that you can easily access. If you have a single-story home with a pitched roof, you can also use an extension pole with a squeegee. Due to the risks involved, professional cleaning services should be used if you can only access your solar panels by climbing the roof.

    Suitable cleaning tools methods for solar panels include:

    • A soft cloth, sponge or brush
    • A squeegee
    • Washing with soft, non-pressurized water

    On the other hand, you should avoid these methods and tools:

    • Hardwire brushes
    • Roof rakes
    • Abrasive cleaning tools
    • Hard water
    • Chemical agents

    Solar panels have a high upfront cost, and protecting your investment is important. A solar panel system typically costs 2.85 per watt or 17,100 for a 6 kilowatt (kW) system, and the 30% federal solar tax credit reduces your total to 11,970. With those figures, you can expect a payback period of around 8.5 years. When you combine a 25-year warranty and regular cleaning, you can utilize your solar panels for over a decade after paying off your system.

    How to Clean Solar Panels on Your Roof?

    One of the most common questions for homeowners is how to clean solar panels on their roofs. Although solar panels by and large come with self-cleaning technology, they require some cleaning and maintenance to keep them working effectively. Solar panels are a great investment in your home and enabling them to work at their optimal efficiency will make them worth it in Ireland.

    In most cases solar panels are self-cleaning but in some situations such as dust accumulation and bird droppings, they need to be cleaned manually on a regular basis. If you have a roof mount system, it is usually safest to get your panels cleaned by a professional. Unless you have the right equipment to safely clean your panels, it’s best not to attempt doing it yourself.

    Why is it Necessary to Clean Your Panels?

    In general, when your solar panels get dirty, you can expect up to a 5% loss of output. This is because dust and other droppings may prevent the solar cells from absorbing energy at their optimum level. Most solar panels are positioned at an angle that will enable dust and grime to glide off easily. However, it’s certain conditions, manual intervention is required.

    When you purchase new solar panels for your home, you may want to look for a cleaning service as part of your agreement. You can ask your installer if this can be an added benefit to your contract. Although it’s fair to assume that rain washes away dirt from the panels, it’s not always the case. Even though there are grants available in countries such as the UK and Ireland to become affordable, they are still a big investment to make and taking proper care of the panels will give better output.

    While cleaning the panels yourself might seem like a great idea, it may not always be the case especially if you have a steeply slanted roof. It is not only risky for your panels as they may get damaged or cracked but also for your safety. There are also some that think investing in a professional solar cleaning service may not be worth the cost, so this is a decision to make based on your living conditions and the safety of doing it yourself.

    How Often Should You Clean Them?

    It is advised to clean solar panels anywhere between once a month to once a year. If your panel system is ground-mounted it is much easier for you to monitor the cleanliness of your panels. On the other hand, roof-mounted solar panels are a bit tricky to monitor on a regular basis.

    often than not, the angular position of the panels should help in them getting cleaned naturally through rainwater and wind. Another important factor in determining how to clean solar panels is the location. If you live in a crowded city area, you may want to clean your panels more often as compared to a house in the outskirts where there is less pollution and dust in general.

    A quick weekly or monthly check would be ideal to make sure your panels are performing without hindrances. According to source, an annual solar panel cleaning routine has proved to improve energy output by 12% higher.

    How to Clean Solar Panels Without Damaging Them?

    How to clean solar panels effectively? When you choose to install solar panels you are making a fairly big investment towards renewable energy and a greener lifestyle. A small effort in cleaning and maintaining your solar panels can go a long way to make sure the panels are working at optimal efficiency. Here are 10 cleaning tips that you need to know:

    • First and foremost, you need to check your panels for dirt and dust and see if they have accumulated in any of the panels, since this can block the panels from absorbing sunlight.
    • Never use a regular sponge or soap to clean the panels. You will end up damaging the glass of the panel. If you’d like to give the panels a proper wash, you can use a biodegradable soap with a soft rag.
    • Roof mounted solar panels are not very safe to climb up and clean, and therefore, it is recommended to call a professional who has the right equipment required. If you choose to clean the panels yourself, you must make sure to use safety ropes and ladders as the panels can get slippery while washing.
    • If you would like to clean your panels frequently, you could use a hose and run them along your panels to remove any dust on a weekly or monthly basis.
    • Make sure to not use any harsh cleaning materials on your panels as they can scratch or damage the panel glass, which can be a costly repair.
    • One of the most common tips on how to clean solar panels is to do it early in the morning. At this time the panels are cooled through the night, and with dew and mist on the panels will make it easier to clean the dirt and grime.
    • In most cases, using plain water to clean the panels is the most effective and safest way to clean them.
    • If you would like to use something more than water, make sure it is mild and does not contain harsh chemicals. A mild dishwashing detergent diluted in water should work well for this purpose.
    • If your panels are floor mounted it is way easier to do a DIY cleaning as compared to roof mounted panels which can be risky.
    • Do not use a washer spray on your panels as their pressure can damage the panels and hinder them from working effectively.

    Solar Panel Maintenance Tips

    Good maintenance with regular cleaning can increase your solar panel efficiency in general. Check your system regularly and document day to day performance to keep track of the panel performance and maintenance requirements.

    People who do not enjoy regular cleaning can install automated sprinkler systems or schedule regular cleaning appointments with local professionals. How to clean solar panels has never been easier with multiple options to choose from. Fortunately, solar panels are immovable and are comparatively lower maintenance systems.

    So, in general, taking regular care and monitoring your system’s performance and functionality should help a great deal in protecting your solar panel system. If you’re a DIY person and do not want to spend a lot on regular cleaning appointments, you can easily clean the panels by using these tips. In the case of solar panels, a little maintenance goes a long way.

    At JK Services, we install solar panels at homes and businesses throughout all of Ireland. We also install EV chargers, provide electrical maintenance services such as PAT testing, periodic inspections and out of hours emergency electrician. JK Services are one of Corks best rated electrical contractors with a fantastic team of qualified electricians. Get in touch with our solar panels Cork team today.

    How to Clean Solar Panels To Reduce Energy Costs

    Regular cleaning is the key to maintain the efficiency and lifespan of solar panels. If not, the dust and debris accumulated over them can affect its performance.

    But now the real question is – how to clean solar panels safely without harming them. Attempting to clean the panels without proper information can have potential risks of damaging the panels altogether.

    Usually, instructions for maintaining solar panels are mentioned in the manual provided by the manufacturer. However, if you are looking for a detail step-by-step process and in-depth clarifications, then read this article thoroughly.

    Here, in this article, we are going to explore everything related to cleaning solar panels for your reference.

    Is it Really Necessary to Clean Solar Panels?

    Most cases, your solar panels won’t need to be cleaned often if at all. Anything that collects dirt (such as pollen or dust) will be washed away the next time it rains. However, there are times when it may be a good idea to clean your solar panel. It’s worth cleaning your solar panels if you have a lot of bird droppings. Rain might not be able to wash them away very easily so it’s a Smart idea. You might also need to clean your panels if there are droughts in your area.

    How to Clean Solar Panels

    There are two options for cleaning your solar panels: do it yourself or consult a professional. Many solar companies offer this service for a charge. It might be offered as an annual maintenance service or suggested that you have it done whenever they install your product.

    If you are interested in making it your own, you will usually have everything you need at home. It will usually only require a hose and some soap.

    Step 1 – Turn off the Complete System

    Before you begin cleaning the Solar Panels you need to make sure that all power connections have been disconnected. It is dangerous to continue cleaning a Solar Panel that is still in use. You will need to shut down any DC systems in your home. In the case of AC systems, it is enough to shut down the main solar supply switch.

    Step 2 – Disconnect Gutters or Rainwater Collections

    It is important to disconnect rainwater tanks that are being used for rainwater collection. It is crucial to make sure that the water collected does not contain any run-off. Block any gutter pipes on the roof. It can become clogged by the debris and dust that may have been accumulated while cleaning the solar panels.

    Step 3 – Pick a Cool, Mild Time of Day

    You should clean your solar panels on your roof at a cool, mild time of day. This is because solar panels’ glass can get very hot from direct sunlight. If you wash the panels with water, the glass can crack easily.

    Even if the glass isn’t cracked, it can be damaged by the Rapid evaporation water. You can also clean the panels on a cool, mild day, since no one enjoys working in the heat of the sun.

    STEP 4 – Dusting

    Solar panels can become clogged with leaves, bird poop, dust, and other debris. Rain may clear some of the debris, but it won’t remove all. It can also leave behind dirty residue after the puddles dry. To begin the cleaning process, remove any debris by gently brushing with a soft-bristled instrument.

    If the soft brush is attached with a telescopic extension pole with a threaded tip, hook, this can be done from ground level. Some poles reach 24 feet. An extension ladder is required to reach solar panels and brush without an adequate extension pole. Safety precautions include wearing a hard hat, harness, and climbing on the roof.

    It is best to start by gently brushing solar panels. If there is a lot of material on the panels, mixing water with it immediately could cause spreading and smear. Brushing helps to break down some of the material and makes the cleaning process easier. To keep your hands safe and clean, wear work gloves

    STEP 5 – Cleaning with Water

    Solar panel cleaning is made easier by water. After the dry debris has been removed by brushing, you can use a garden hose to remove any remaining dirt from solar panels.

    While it may seem tempting to spray solar panels with water to speed up the process, high-pressure cleaning can cause fine cracks to their surfaces. This will cause future problems and reduce the efficiency of your solar system. Non-compliance of manufacturer specifications regarding solar panel maintenance may result in the cancellation of existing warranties. It is important to remove any hoses with high-pressure attachments before cleaning solar panels.

    This step requires careful and deliberate spraying of each solar panel. A telescopic hose-wand might be able to help if a garden hose isn’t flexible enough to spray the panels evenly. These hose wands have a stronger grip than a garden hose.

    STEP 6 – Scrubbing Away Tough Stains

    After removing most of the debris, you can give extra attention to problem areas with a sponge, cloth, or squeegee. It is best to use a gentle, repetitive cleaning motion with patience. Aggressive scrubbing can cause damage to the panels.

    Even safe cleaning products can still be harmful to solar panels. Water is the best cleaner for solar panels, especially if it has been deionized and distilled. Water that has been deionized or distilled attracts other chemicals making it more effective for cleaning. Deionized water or distilled water may not be available. A water softener can be used to improve the water’s cleaning power.

    A squirt with gentle dish soap mixed in one part vinegar to eight portions water can be used to clean stubborn areas. Make sure to use soap sparingly. If not, the soap residue attracts dirt and cause streaky solar panels. This can not only make the panels less attractive, but it can also cause problems with their functionality.

    STEP 7 – Observing the Changes

    Homeowners should examine their energy bills before and during cleaning to determine the impact of solar panel cleaning. Because they have maximum solar exposure, clean solar panels will cost less to run.

    STEP 8 – Contact a Professional Solar Panel Cleaner

    If you are experiencing low energy efficiency even after the solar panels, then may be its time to contact a professional for more complex cleaning and maintenance requirements.

    Are solar panels’ efficiency affected by dirt and other debris? What is the impact of dirt and debris on solar panels?

    Yes, and no. It’s not that much. Yes, dirt and other debris can reduce the amount of sunlight that is able to convert light into energy. The effect on efficiency is minimal – perhaps 5% to 5%. This could translate to a loss of about 20 in your monthly energy bill for a 5kW solar system. It doesn’t matter if it is monthly or all year. Even if you are in areas that have been experiencing drought, it will eventually rain and everything will be washed away. It might even not be worth the effort to clean it all the first time.

    How to Clean My Solar Panels?

    You must remember one important point before you start cleaning your panels:

    • Don’t scratch or damage the glass.
    • There are many different models of solar panel models. It is a good idea to verify with the manufacturer of your product for specific cleaning instructions.
    • You can choose to clean in the evening, morning, or cool days. It’s not a good idea to burn yourself by the heat of hot panels during a sunny day.
    • Do not splash cold water onto a hot surface of glass. This can cause cracks from sudden contraction.
    • To get rid of any traces of dirt, use a squeegee.
    • Do not step on your panels as it can cause damage and premature failure.
    • Avoid using bristles with sharp edges as they can scratch the solar glass.
    • You might find oily stains on your panels if you live near an airport, or along a route used by trucks. You can remove these stains with a rag or some isopropyl alcohol.

    Frequently Asked Questions:

    What’s the best way to clean solar panels?

    You can clean your solar panels with a hose and some soapy water. You can clean your solar panels in the same way you would wash your car at house. You don’t want the panels to be scratched so it’s best not to use any abrasive sponge to apply the soapy water.

    Are solar panels really necessary to be cleaned?

    Solar panels must be exposed to sunlight to generate power. However, solar panel cleaning is not required unless there are high levels of smog or dirt, dirt, or sand blowing accumulated over them.

    How often should solar panels be cleaned?

    In order to preserve the efficiency, effectiveness, and productivity of solar panels, it is recommended that they be cleaned at least once a year. Cleaning may be more necessary depending on the location and level of pollution.

    Can you use vinegar to clean solar panels?

    Yes, you can. Mix 1/4 cup vinegar with 2 cups water. Add half a teaspoon liquid detergent or other non-abrasive soap. You will have a cleaner for your solar panel. It’s that simple!

    How can you get rid of algae from solar panels?

    Lichen can be mistakenly thought to be bird droppings from the ground. However, lichen is much more difficult to clean. We have never been able to clean lichen from a solar panel completely. This is because is very close to the surface and uses only water.

    Can I pressure wash my panels of solar power?

    The exterior of your house, including gutters and roof, can be cleaned with pressure washers. It should not be used on solar panel panels. Although they are easier to clean than their low pressure and reach, there is a risk of damaging panels.

    Is Windex safe for solar panels?

    Windex is an inexpensive and readily available cleaner that’s great for cleaning glass surfaces, such as those on solar panels. It will ensure they run at their maximum efficiency.

    How do you maintain solar panels?

    Let the rain do the job of solar panel cleaning. Monitoring your system’s functioning by monitoring your monthly energy usage and bills. You might notice changes in your electricity bill. It may be time to consider cleaning or other maintenance. You can check to see if your efficiency returns to normal after a rain. If it is, then that’s likely the end. If the functionality continues to act strangely, it could be an electrical problem that needs to be fixed.

    Do dirty solar panels generate electricity?

    The researchers found that solar panel in extremely dirty environments had a 25% drop in efficiency due to atmospheric pollution. These two factors combined could cause a drop in efficiency of up to 35 percent for solar panels located in heavily polluted environments that haven’t been cleaned for at least a month.

    How does cleaning solar panels increase efficiency?

    It is clear that panels with poor efficiency will be cleaned. Many statistical studies show that this efficiency and performance improvement can make a significant difference in residential arrays and in commercial installations.

    This is the question that is asked often, and almost everyone thinks about it in almost the same way. Well, there are many reasons why you need to clean solar panels as you can’t just rely on the rain for it. By the time you wait for the next rain, the solar panel might get covered in so much dust, pollen, debris that it can even stop working in some cases.

    Apart from dust and similar factors, another major enemy that you need to think of is bird droppings. Due to all such environmental factors, cleaning the panels becomes too essential as if the panels are not clean, you cannot expect them to absorb the sunlight well and produce a good amount of power afterward.

    clean, solar, panels, 2023, guide, cleaning

    To clean up a solar panel, we would not advise you to climb the roof and do it all by yourself if there are no safety measures. However, if it is fine for you to reach the panels, the cleaning part is pretty easy. There is actually no special equipment needed to clean a solar panel.

    Just like a glass window, the solar panels also have a glass sheet on the upper side, which can be cleaned the same way. You can use a water hose to wash off the dust and scrub off the grime with a soft cloth if needed. over, if there are any stains on the panel, you can even use a mild soap to clean them off.

    As you know, the sun is the only source that can make your solar panels work and produce power for utilization. So, whatever that comes in between the solar panel and the sunrays, causes interruption and affects the overall output. For instance, in the rainy season, the solar panels’ output is usually less than in other seasons, for obvious reasons.

    On the other hand, if you believe that the solar panels perform well when the outside temperature is high, it’s not correct. Like any other machine, solar panels also perform their best when they are cool. Yes, the temperatures will surely be high during the daytime as the sun rays directly fall on the panel. But, as the temperature rises, the voltage of the solar panels decreases gradually affecting the overall power output.

    Final Takeaway

    When invested in solar energy, it is important to consider the maintenance of solar panels as they are main source that converters sun energy to electricity. Though rainfall will remove all the dirt accumulated on the panels, sometimes tough stains, bird dropping make the panels less efficient.

    If you want to clean the solar panels yourself instead of getting professional help, then you can follow the steps mentioned in this article. We have also mentioned some answers and tips you have to consider while cleaning the solar panels.

    We hope the information has helped you maintain the solar panels efficiently. If you still have any doubts, we recommend writing to us in the comment section below. We will reply to them as soon as possible.

    Cleaning solar panels diy

    Doing some research on solar panel cleaning there seems to be 2 opposing views (as always).

    Disclaimer – an affiliate link was used in this post.

    One view is that glass is ‘self-cleaning’. As rain water washes the panels regularly you might only be losing a few % of the yearly generation. They go onto say, if you do clean them, within a few days they will be dirty again anyway. The other side (mainly solar panel cleaning companies!) talk about losing between 5%-30% of the yearly generation from dirt. Even a thin film of grime on the panels reduces the amount of light which gets through to the panels. I saw one site comparing the solar panels to the windscreen in your car. You can’t go long without cleaning that and the rain doesn’t do much to clean it. I’m not too convinced by that argument, but I do know what state our Windows get in if left unwashed.

    Is it worth it?

    Well 5% of my yearly FIT payments (i.e. the money we get for the electricity we generate) is about £100. Although people getting solar panels more recently will be getting much less. The savings could still be more than £700 over the 20 years (at today’s prices). So even a small increase in efficiency will be worth looking into.

    What’s involved?

    All the solar cleaning websites I looked at talked about using ‘pure’ water instead of rainwater or tap water. Looking into this a bit more they say that pure water is H20. Whereas both rainwater and tap water have minerals, pollution, chlorine and all sorts of other things in it. If you have ever cleaned your Windows with water and not wiped the water off afterwards what happens? It leaves streaks all down the window. Once the minerals are on the solar panels they attract more and that’s how they get so dirty. Cleaning with ‘pure’ water doesn’t leave any mineral deposits so they stay cleaner for longer (at least that’s the theory).

    What are the options?

    I asked a solar panel cleaning company to quote me to clean our panels. They wanted £75 for an annual clean or £120 for 2 cleans a year. One in spring and one in late summer.

    I found a few home solar panel cleaning kits with everything you need to clean your solar panels. They were £300.

    Looking at whats contained in the solar panel cleaning kit they are normally made up of the following:

    • Solar panel friendly brush
    • Extending pole to reach all the way up to the roof from the ground
    • Water purifier and pump. The pump can take in rainwater or connect to an outside tap. It filters and removes all the minerals and gives out ‘pure’ water.

    It makes a lot of sense for window or solar cleaning companies to invest in all this. But what are the options for the frugal solar panel homeowner?

    Well there is another option, a DIY approach.

    You have to buy a few bits but they come in useful for other jobs as well.

    • An extendable pole (with water tube inside). Check how tall the top of the solar panels are. Buy the appropriate pole and a solar brush. Make sure the brush fits the end of the pole and has attachments for the water tube. (Around £115)
    • A Water Pump. I bought a submersible pump. I can use it for this or to pump water from a water butt (around £60).
    • Pure water. This is my best find so far. Instead of spending lots of money on a water filter go down to your local tropical fish shop. They can give you a barrel of 25L for less than £5.

    With the above I had all the equipment I needed to clean my panels without climbing up onto the roof. It cost me around £180 for the lot, which was a significant saving on what I could have spent.

    It was really quick to do. A few tips though;

    • Make sure all the power is off on the panels and inverters before cleaning the panels.
    • Do it in the evening after the sun has gone down. So the panels aren’t hot, but its still light enough to see.
    • Make sure you adjust the angle of the brush so its easy to clean.
    • Test the water through the brush before starting to clean the panels.

    Have they made a difference? Well I haven’t really noticed much difference yet, I have seen bird poo on it since though. I’ll keep a close look at it and will clean them every couple of months now I have the kit.

    Should you get your panels cleaned professionally, do it yourself or not bother? I certainly wouldn’t pay £75 a year to get them cleaned over 20 years. I’ll hold judgment on the whether is is best to do the DIY version or leave alone.

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