Cleaning Solar Panels: Why When And How You Should Do It
A car thats well-oiled and serviced runs better, so theres no surprise that solar panels do their job more efficiently when theyre given the same level of attention.
Beyond the set of wheels in our garages, we like to keep our windows crystal-clear and free of grime, too. So why should cleaning our solar panelsbe any exception? The question should more be focused on when you need to put in the hard yards, and how frequently.
So in this post, were covering all of your biggest questions around how to adopt a productive solar panel maintenance routine. Well look at all the requirements across what you need to clean them with and how, as well as the main sources of dirt, and when you need to call in the professionals.
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Other Rooftop Solar Panel Decorations
Bird droppings, leaves, mud, and hardened debris can accumulate on your solar panels over time, in between cleans. These solar panel obstructions can effectively lower the solar output of your rooftop panels.
Luckily, your solar panel PV system is designed to store excess energy for periods where panels arent capturing as much energy as they can.
Even so, to keep your panels operating at the greatest efficiency all the time, clean your rooftop solar panels at least two times a year. Increase cleaning frequency if you live in an area with high pollution or very little rain.
What Is The Maintenance Cost Of Solar Panels
The average cost to clean and maintain solar panels is $150 to $330. The actual cost of cleaning will depend on a number of factors, including where you live, house height, roof slant, and what type of solar setup you have installed. If you have a 2 kW solar PV system with 10 panels, expect to pay between $150-$330.
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Can You Clean Solar Panels With A Pressure Washer
A pressure washer is one of the best tools you can have on hand to clean solar panels. You do need to be cautious though since some pressure washers can damage the panels, especially ones with copper wiring.
A pressure washer will help blast off any caked-on dirt and debris but if its just dust or small leaves then they may pass right through without helping much in cleaning at all.
Make sure you read about how to adjust the pressure and nozzle to get the best results. Too little pressure and you run the risk of wasting your time and effort without any real cleaning action. Too much pressure and you could damage the solar panels.
So how do you know what the right pressure is? If your washer can adjust for different pressures, then it should be on a low setting with an adjustable nozzle tip size between .017 and .070 inches in diameter. Youll want to experiment until you find the best fit for your needs and equipment.
If not, try starting out at 3000 PSI which is considered medium-high pressure but still safe since most people use high or super-high settings when washing their cars.
However, if that doesnt work well enough there are other techniques and tools including using dish soap as a lubricant to help blast off caked-on dirt without damaging the panels.
Whenever I write about a tool that could potentially damage your solar panels, I always STRONGLY encourage you to check with your solar installation expert and ask their opinion.
Why Do You Need To Clean Solar Panels
If you have a residential solar energy system installed, your solar panels are generally flat, tilted, and on your rooftop. How often do you clean your roof? Probably not very often, most likely never. Whys that? I hear you saying Isnt that what rain is for? Thats kind of the same logic for solar panels too.
In most cases, you wont need to clean your solar panels often, if at all. After all, anything that accumulates dirt on them , will get washed off the next time it rains. There are some times it might make sense to clean your solar panels though. If youve got a lot of bird droppings on your panels, rain might not wash these off very readily, so its a good idea to clean them off. Also, if you live in a state thats prone to droughts or, if it rains, its only a very light, misty rain, you might need to clean them every now and then.
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Apply Steam On The Surface
Turn on the steam cleaner and wait for it to warm up. While it heats up, make sure you have towels or rags to protect your frames from potential water runoff.
Once the machine is ready, use long passes of steam to clean the panels from top to bottom or side to side.
Your steaming equipment instruction handbook should specify how far away from the panels you should hold the steam wand. As you go, make sure to coat the entire area with steam vapor.
Some steam cleaners include a squeegee attachment, allowing you to steam and squeegee the water away in the same pass. Some people like to steam first, then squeegee out any leftover moisture.
It is important to note that, steam should never be used on any solar PV system component other than the solar panels. Because it will almost certainly damage any of the systems wiring or electronics.
Is It Worth It To Clean Solar Panels
The answer is both yes and no.
Yes, if your solar panels are getting dirt regularly, and there is not enough rain to clean it.
No, if your solar panels are installed on an angle where rain can clean it.
Solar panels can be untidy in case of dust, pollen, or other things, but rain can clean it automatically.
You dont have to do it manually. But if your solar panels are filled with heavy dirt and installed on a flat position, then you need to clean your solar panels.
Solar panel cleaning requires a perfect cleaning method and equipment.
Similarly, in a residential solar system, solar panels are installed on the rooftop of the house. So, the place is safe from dirt because of its height.
Now come to the point, a solar panel with dirt can decrease the production of energy up to 5%. But in the next rain, it will clean all the garbage and produce regular energy.
Besides, the system will get enough power in the summer. In this sense, the total energy production measurement will get an average calculation.
If you do it yourself, then it will be helpful for you, but it will be difficult to clean your solar panels on the rooftop.
On the contrary, if you hire a professional, then it will cost more than the energy production that will be increased.
So, you can understand the fact of cleaning your solar panels.
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How Often Do Solar Panels Need To Be Cleaned
If you never notice a drop in production, or if you can get up on your roof and inspect your panels closely to see that your panels are pretty clean, then itâs perfectly acceptable to never clean them.
On the other hand, if you live in an arid climate such as a fire hazard zone in California that rarely gets rain, you might notice that your power generation on clear days doesnât hit the same maximum as they did in the past. If the power loss seems significant and you feel that you can safely get on a ladder with some cleaning equipment, then go ahead and do it.
But your time and the safety risk will rarely be paid off if you are obsessive about keeping your panels squeaky clean. Only do a cleaning if the power loss becomes significant, or if you have a ground-mounted array that you can quickly squeegee without much trouble.
Why Do Solar Panels Need Cleaning
Your solar panels convert sunlight directly into electricity. Itâs like magic!
But dust, dirt, and pollen can collect on the surface of your panels, reducing the amount of light that the cells receive and the electricity they generate.
A solar panel is constructed of several layers, starting with a strong sheet of glass that sits on top of the photovoltaic cells underneath. This isnât ordinary window glass, but glass that is tempered for strength and coated with anti-reflective materials to increase the amount of light that passes through. Often there is also a hydrophobic coating which helps to repel dirt accumulation.
All of this is done to maximize the amount of light that hits the solar cells. You might know from washing your windows in the spring that a little cleaning can suddenly make your home much brighter. This can also be true of your solar panels. Depending on how soiled they get, you can increase your power production by just a couple percentage points, or you can see a double-digit increase.
In extreme cases such as utility-scale solar farms in Middle Eastern deserts, panels rarely receive rain and can be coated with a thick layer of sand that can block 50% or more of the incoming light. In these types of installations, regular cleaning is a must, which is why people have invented things like this nifty solar panel cleaning robot.
Thankfully, most of us live in a more forgiving climate, and the need for solar panel cleaning isnât as clear cut.
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What Tools Do I Need To Clean Solar Panels
Tools you need can range from large scaffolding to small hand brushes, it really depends on how high your roof is, how dirty your panels are, and how much money and effort you want to put into cleaning them.
Ive mentioned the basics up above: large sponge, garden hose, non-abrasive soap, and ladder. But your house may have different needs from a typical single-level ranch house. Here are a few more ideas for the gear you might want to consider.
Scaffolding is likely a bit overkill for most homeowners, but if you have a particularly steep roof or an uneven roof that could make walking around extremely cumbersome, then you may want to consider getting some sort of elevated work surface.
If at all possible, you might want to see if you have a family member or friend that works in construction has a set of scaffoldingreally just a partial set would dothat you could borrow a few times a year. If not, then portable scaffolding like the set linked here might be worth checking out.
If your electronic equipment isnt accessible from ground level, try using a telescoping pole for cleaning purposes! These poles come in various lengths so theyre perfect no matter where you live or how much space there is around the solar panel installation.
You could also use hand brushes to clean dirt off of smaller spaces, like those found on ranches that have just one set of photovoltaic cells installed by their house.
Bucket and Rags
When To Seek Professional Help
Many homeowners opt to clean their solar panels themselves rather than hiring a professional cleaning company. Whenever you clean your panels, remember that it is best to do so from the ground whenever possible.
However, most solar system arrays are on rooftops so if you think that there is significant risk involved, call a solar cleaning company to come help keep your power generation high and electricity bills low.
You can write off the expense of hiring a professional company through the money you saved on energy bills!
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What Would Cause You To Wash Your Solar Panels
A couple of things can go wrong with your solar panels. One of the possible problems is the accumulation of dirt and other materials on the panels surfaces. When the reception screens are clouded, energy received from the sun is inadequate. Studies have shown that dirty solar panels produce 25% less electricity compared to clean ones.
So, periodically, you have to roll up your sleeves, find your way to the rooftop, and clean up your solar panels in order to keep them working properly. This should only come up a few times in a year. Rain downpours sufficiently wash the dirt, dust, and bird droppings off the solar panels, most times. Nevertheless, strong winds with pelting raindrops stick foreign materials on and this is why washing is necessary.
Applying pressure washers might seem like the right step to take. This is because pressure washers have long reaches to ease you and provide intense pressure to ensure surfaces are squeaky clean. In truth, pressure washing is ideal for cleaning exterior parts of your building, from the rooftops right down to the gutters but not for your solar panels. You may cause irreparable damages to them.
Clean Green Solar Panel Machines
No solar panel is cleaner than a brand new one! If youre ready to make the smart decision to go solar, then contact the solar installation professionals at PES Solar. We can help you install a solar system to fit your budget and provide you with all the energy you need. Call us today for a free quote at .
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Can You Clean Solar Panels By Yourself
You can clean solar panels by yourself, but its highly recommended that if you are inexperienced or afraid of heights that you get help and take proper precautions to ensure your safety.
As I mentioned above under tools, if youre going to be up pretty high you may want to consider scaffolding or a ladder to get up onto the panels without risking injury.
For Many Solar Homeowners Rain Will Do A Good Enough Job Of Keeping Your Panels Clean But With Droughts Becoming More Common Some People Will Find That They Need To Periodically Wash Their Panels Heres A Guide On How To Safely Keep Your Solar System Clean
One of the great things about solar panels is that they just sit there, silently turning photons into electricity and making you money. They can essentially be maintenance-free for 25 years. But one question solar homeowners often have is: if my solar panels are dirty, whats the best way to clean them?
The best way to clean your solar panels is with tools you probably already have: a bucket of plain water, a soft brush or cloth, and the kind of extension pole you would use to squeegee your second floor windows. If necessary, a gentle soap such as dish soap can be added, but its not necessary. You dont need your panels to be squeaky clean.
Whether or not you even should go through the trouble of cleaning them is another matter. Oftentimes, its not worth it, and you can risk cracking a glass panel in the process. This article will go into the pros and cons of cleaing your solar panels, and recommend some tools you can use.
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Can I Use A Pressure Washer To Clean Solar Panels
If youve ever watched some of those gloriously satisfying YouTube videos showing people removing dirt with a pressure washer, youll understand the appeal.
This fabulous piece of machinery makes some serious cleaning jobs an absolute breeze. And their high pressure means you can reach great heights and distances with them.
So should you use all this convenient power and cleaning ability on your solar panels?
The short answer is no. Never. Absolutely not. If anyone suggests it, send em packing immediately.
Pressure washers are absolutely unrivaled at cleaning exterior surfaces, including the roof and gutters , but they should simply never be used on solar panels.
The sheer force the system uses to jet the water out of the nozzle can shatter, break and totally ruin your solar panels, leading to a hefty replacement cost.
So, tempting though it may be, we absolutely dont recommend using a pressure washer to clean your solar panels.
If the thought of climbing onto your roof and gingerly rootling about with a sponge turns you into a quivering mass, we get it. Thats why solar panel owners trust the experts at BCS to keep them sun-soaking ready.
Give the Utah pros at BCS a call today at 801 561 1730 to schedule your solar panel cleaning treatment.
Does Cleaning Solar Panels Necessary How Often
Yes, cleaning your solar panels is necessary, but not often. It requires only in the time of uncleanliness.
If you installed a residential solar system, then the system is on the rooftop of your house. You might never clean your rooftop, and you dont think that it is a necessary exercise.
But you have to clean solar panels in case of any dirt and grime.
Rain can clean the panels, but it wont remove dust and pollen. You have to wash the pollen or other dust with approved detergent and tools.
Perfect cleaning practices will maintain the energy production of the solar system. It will help the panel to get enough sunlight during the daytime.
You should clean your solar panels approximately every 6 months. Try to understand the weather of your living area.
In general, late spring and autumn are the perfect seasons to clean your solar panels on the rooftop.
The cleaning method may vary from place to place. For example, your solar panels need to be cleaned several times if your solar panels are placed in a dirty and dry area.
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Solar Power Equipment And Maintenance Safety First
The best way to get the job done is on the ground with a long-handled implement. But if thats not possible and you choose to go on the roof, you must take precautions.
For example, a rope should be attached to a safety harness to prevent falling to the ground a method often used by professionals.
Additionally, no one should be on a roof without a hard hat and a safety harness. It is a potentially fatal environment. Check out this advice about working at these heights before you start. The task of solar panels cleaning is not worth your life!