Cleaning Solar Panels: Everything Homeowners Should Know

Did you know that soiled solar panels result in 7% energy loss in the United States every year?

Going solar is a long-term commitment, and cleaning solar panels is a non-negotiable element of its maintenance. Accumulation of dust and debris can reduce the efficiency of a solar array by 30% in just a month.

Continued lack of maintenance can eat into your energy savings and defeat the purpose of going solar in the first place.

Clean solar panels are highly productive and will meet your energy needs with greater efficiency. With regular maintenance, you can coax excellent performance from your solar array during its lifetime.

Let’s find out how to clean solar panels.

Solar Panel Cleaning: Common Methods You Can Try

As a residential solar user, you can try solar cleaning at home with minimal gadget use. Exercise caution and choose one of the following methods:

Manual Wet Cleaning

Begin by dusting your solar panels with a soft bristle brush specially designed for this task. Do not use a generic brush that you may otherwise use for household cleaning, as it will damage your panel.

Ensure that you’re cleaning solar panels as gently as possible to avoid scratching the surface. Once you have dusted off all the debris, use a water hose to wash off all remaining grime.

Manual Wet Cleaning of Solar Panels

It’s best to use a hose with a nozzle to control the pressure of the water that hits the surface of your solar panels. Keep it low for safety reasons and avoid damage.

Before using the hose on the panels, modulate the temperature of the water. If the surface of the panels is hot, cleaning them with cold water may lead to cracks. Always ensure minimal temperature difference between the two, or none at all, to ensure safety.

You can also use mild soap to scrub off stubborn stains. Be extra careful not to harm your PV in the process.

Cleaning solar panels on roof is a precarious task. Wear safety gear like harnesses to prevent mishaps.

Manual Dry Cleaning

Cleaning solar panels consumes a lot of water. In fact, as much as 10 billion gallons of water is currently wasted on cleaning PV modules.

So dry dusting may be a better option.

You begin by dusting off debris, much like the wet cleaning method. Follow it by using a lint-free and scratch-free cloth to wipe down the surface of your solar array.

You could supplement this with some mild spray cleaner. Choose carefully, and only after considering the chemistry of your solar setup. Dab a bit of cleaning solution onto a squeegee made for solar panels for the best results.

After cleaning, you can use a solar power calculator to compare and understand if cleaning the panels improves their performance.

Manual Dry Cleaning of Solar Panels

Other Methods

While these methods are great for cleaning your solar panels at home, they might not be the most effective. In some instances, the best way to clean solar panels could be to get help from a professional solar panel company that will do the job for you.

For example, the Heriot-Watt solution uses waterless vibrations to shake off accumulated dust and debris.

In other instances, professionals may deploy an automatic or semi-automatic robot programmed for thorough cleaning and a spotless result.  

Professional cleaning comes with added costs and may not be your first preference.

So how often should you clean solar panels? Experts recommend doing it at least once every six months to a year. The exact frequency of cleaning is entirely dependent on circumstantial factors.

Factors That Affect Solar Panel Cleaning

Several factors influence solar panel cleaning. In some cases, you simply may not have the choice to do it by yourself.

Location and Climate

Your geographic location determines the climate and local weather patterns. These determine how much dust and debris your solar array collects, in turn affecting the ideal frequency and most effective method of cleaning.

For example, if you live in an arid region known for dust storms, your panels will require more frequent cleaning than those in areas that witness constant rainfall. Rainfall can act as a natural cleanser and wash away debris.

However, damp regions can witness moss growth on solar panels, which, of course, affects their performance.

Factors That Affect Solar Panel Cleaning

Bird Droppings

Bird droppings are solar panels’ worst enemy. If you live in a forested area, by a lake, or in other places frequented by birds, be mindful of droppings. They are notoriously difficult to clean. Projectile fecal matter can cause dents on the panels, too.

Place of Installation

The best method and frequency of cleaning solar panels are also affected by where they are placed. If you have a rooftop setup, you may need to clean it more frequently than panels set on the ground.

Rooftop solar panels are harder to clean and significantly more dangerous. It may be best to leave this task to the professionals.

Choosing the Best Way To Clean Solar Panels

Keeping your solar panels squeaky clean is not a matter of debate. However, choosing the correct method to get the best results may require some consideration. Safe and efficient solar cleaning requires expertise, equipment, cleaning solutions, and safety gear.

While you can try to get the job done yourself, it is best to seek help from professional solar cleaning service providers at least once a year. The benefits of solar power are too many to take solar panel cleaning for granted or do a poor job of it.  

AMECO provides best-in-class consultations and real-time solutions for all your solar problems. Visit the website to learn more about AMECO’s comprehensive solar services today.