Cleaning solar panels regularly helps them stay in good condition and increases their longevity. A dirty panel can reduce its solar energy production by a significant amount.
First, start by removing any large debris like leaves and twigs. Then, gently use a scrub brush and soapy water to clean your panels. A handheld brush is best for the easy-to-reach panels, and a brush with an extendable handle can be used on the harder-to-reach ones.
Keep the Debris Away
The first step to maintaining your solar panels is keeping them clear of debris. This includes dirt, pollen, leaves, bird droppings, and other items that can inhibit sunlight exposure and reduce energy production. A quick and simple cleaning with a garden hose can easily prevent this debris. For the most efficient and effective cleaning, cleaning your panels in the evening or early morning on a fantastic day is best. Using hot water or spraying them on a sunny day can cause the glass to crack from abrupt temperature changes.
Other factors can also impact how often you clean your solar panels. For instance, if you live downwind from an airport or a highway, your panels may be susceptible to dust build-up. Additionally, tall trees surrounding your home may collect pollen, leaves, and bird droppings.
Before beginning the cleaning process, check with your EMT Solar company to see if they provide specific maintenance instructions for your particular system. You will want to follow these guidelines since the wrong tools or cleaners can damage your panels and void your warranty. In addition, cleaning your panels too often can cause permanent damage to their surface.
Clean the Panels Regularly
The sun can handle most dust and debris accumulating on solar panels, but cleaning is also essential. Regular cleaning helps keep solar panels working their best and can even help spot any potential problems before they become a more significant problem.
Fortunately, cleaning solar panels is relatively easy. You don’t need expensive equipment, just a garden hose and a soft sponge or cloth. You’ll want to avoid spraying the panels with high-pressure jets or pressure washers, which could damage the solar cells. It’s also essential to always wear a hard hat and harness when working on roof-mounted panels.
To clean the panels:
- Rinse off the surface with a hose to remove loose dirt and debris.
- Use the bucket with a 3% soap and water solution to scrub the panels, ensuring you don’t scratch or damage the glass.
- Rinse the panels with clean water from the hose, then dry them with a squeegee.
The frequency of cleaning your solar panels will depend on their position and location. If your panels are flat, there’s a higher chance they will collect grime and dust over time. However, if they’re on a gradient, they’re more likely to get washed off by rain and won’t need to be cleaned as frequently.
Trim the Vegetation Around the Panels
If you want your solar system to deliver the most energy, make sure you can count on it to be able to do so during the hours of the most excellent sun exposure. Giant trees that cast shade at different times of the day can dramatically reduce your PV system’s output. To avoid this problem, it’s a good idea to “map” the location of the trees around your home before installing solar panels. This way, you can plan to minimize their impact.
Solar panels need a lot of maintenance, but it’s pretty simple. For instance, the most common reason you’d need to clean your solar panel is to remove dust and debris. This includes dirt, sand, grit, bird droppings, and other debris. You can do this by using a garden hose and lukewarm water. Avoid using soaps and detergents, as they can cause a film to form, decreasing your solar panel’s efficiency.
It’s also important to watch the weather because extreme conditions can damage your solar panels. For example, golf-ball-sized hail can crack the glass of your solar panels. And while solar systems are durable, they may need to be inspected and cleaned more often than usual if exposed to a severe storm. If you see any red flags, like a reduction in your energy production, it’s a sign that you should contact a professional.
Monitor the System
While solar panels are exceptionally durable and an excellent investment for your home, they can still be damaged. Acts of nature or human error can cause issues with your PV system, though fortunately, these aren’t too common. Whether it’s the roof penetrations and mounting racks that hold your panels in place or the wiring and inverters that connect your panels to your home’s electrical system and the grid, a little maintenance can save you from costly repairs down the road.
Occasional cleaning should be sufficient to keep your panels in good condition. A hose and mild soap or cleaner are usually all needed to clean off dirt, dust, and pollen build-up. Many homeowners only need to wash their solar panels regularly, once or twice a year.
Additionally, if you live in an area with wildfires, you may need to check your panels for soot and ash build-up. While these can typically be washed away by rain or a light rain shower, you may need to wipe your panels down manually.
Generally, tracking their energy output is the best way to see if your solar panels need quick cleaning. Depending on your system and installation, you should check this by logging into your monitoring software or looking at your monthly electricity bill. A noticeable drop in energy production is a good sign that it’s time to clean your panels.