Thursday, April 18, 2024

Can You Pressure Wash Solar Panels

Do Not Ever Walk Over The Modules

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Solar panels are designed to withstand specific distributed snow and wind loads. If your concentrated weight is above the designed loads then you could cause micro-cracking, declining the performance of the module over time. Besides, the solar panels surface can be slippery, and if you are adding soap and water to the mix, the probabilities of falling are quite high. As long as you are careful, the chances of solar panels being dangerous are low.

Why Should You Clean Your Solar Panels

The presence of dust, dirt, bird droppings, leaves, and other particles negatively affects solar panels efficiency. Therefore, you must clean the panels. According to thestudy conducted by Google, solar panel cleaning is the best way to increase their energy efficiency. Further, the experiment also concluded that rain alone is not enough to clean the solar panels.

So, it is good to rely on rain for natural cleaning. But as time passes and your panels get older, you must clean them at least once or twice a year.

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What Should I Do Instead

There are better methods to take in keeping your solar panels in good working conditions?never mind the stress. Napkins are gentle and better for wiping your panels clean. In case, you want to do some scrubbing, soft-bristled brushes are suitable. These brushes come in handy for eliminating specks of dirt lodged in the edges and corners of the panels do away with abrasive scrubbers. Use dishwashing detergents or liquids to get an improved cleansing, if need be.

An investment in solar energy is half baked if you cannot go the extra mile to ensure continuity. Instead of taking the wrong steps or taking the pain to organize tables, ladders, and chairs for climbing, why not employ professional services? Involving expert hands is a sure bet to enjoy your solar panels for a very long time. At Pressure Perfect AZ, we employ the best cleaning techniques to sustain your renewable energy system.

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Things To Avoid While Cleaning Your Panels

  • Avoid using harsh detergents, soaps, and powders as they may leave a thin film on the surface, which may impact the panels efficacy on light absorption.
  • Avoid washing the solar panels when heated, as a sudden change in temperature may cause a crack on the glass that protects it.
  • Avoid cleaning the solar panels by yourself if you dont have the knowledge or experience to do so instead, contact a cleaning company to wash them for you.
  • Avoid climbing onto the rooftop to wash the panel, unless it is unavoidable. Dont put yourself in a position where you may fall.
  • Avoid grabbing onto the backs of the panel or in the gaps between the panels and your roof. This is where the wiring is typically located and it may cause damage.
  • Avoid cleaning the solar panel with a pressure cleaner, as the extreme pressure produced by it can destroy the panels.

Turn Off The Pv System

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The first step that you need to think of before cleaning your solar panels is to turn off the DC switch located in the combiner box. This is essential to guarantee your safety and to make sure that the solar panels wont get damaged by water inside the junction box, exposed wires, or broken seals while DC electricity is flowing through the system.

New PV systems in the US according to NEC 2017 are now required to have a rapid shutdown system, that will instantly reduce the voltage of the PV array to zero from an easy access location inside the house or business. This will guarantee security in any case for the homeowners and firefighters as well.

Always remember to push that red button in the rapid shutdown box before going to clean your solar panels.

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Dont Clean Panels Install A Larger System

Installing a slightly larger solar system to compensate for losses from dirt costs less than paying someone to clean panels. One extra panel on a 20 panel system increases its output by around 5% which is more than twice the average loss I would expect from not cleaning them. Installing a system one panel larger will definitely cost less than the $600 or more it could cost to have your panels cleaned 4 times. One extra panel can more than compensate for loses from dirt for the entire life of the system.

While adding panels to an existing solar system is often not practical, there are still plenty of things people can do that will save them more money and have greater environmental benefit than paying for panel cleaning. For example, they could invest in insulation, LED lighting, a heat pump hot water system, or buy a bicycle and use it for some trips instead of a car.

How Often Do Solar Panels Require Cleaning

Again, nature may take care of the routine cleaning for you. But keep an eye on your monthly electricity bill or monitoring app. If you see a noticeable drop in production, it might be time for a quick clean. As a general rule, cleaning your system about twice a year should be sufficient.

If you live in the western United States where wildfires are annual occurrences, be sure to check your solar panels for ash or soot build-up after nearby fires have been safely contained. Since they are different from typical dust or animal droppings, you may want to contact a professional to find out the best way to clean them from soot build-up.

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Is Rain Enough To Clean Solar Panels

The National Renewal Energy Laboratory indicated that cleaning solar panels are much more needed in areas with infrequent rainfall, like Southern California. Rain tends to flush out a lot of the unwanted residue sitting patiently and waiting to devour the sunlight headed towards your panels.

In Southern California, we do not get frequent rain to clean solar panels naturally, said DJ Schramm, co-founder of Green Convergence and 30-year plus roofer. So bird droppings, airborne particles from dirt, pollen, and pollution fall out, mix with dew to create grime and slime that reduces the ability of the solar array to perform at full capacity. Dirty panels reduce the return on your investment. We have seen losses as high as 30%.

Rain, however, is not the cure-all for cleaning solar panels because rain still contains within it airborne dust particles that will still leave a layer of dust on the panels. This means that although rain may wash out the old dust on the panels, it brings with it new dirty particles.

Soft Washing A Solar Panel Field

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We recently completed a job soft washing a solar panel field. The lower pressure used allows us to carefully wash and sanitize the panels without breaking or cracking any. We used an extension on our hose to reach the panels that were farther from the ground. The panels are working and looking as good as new!

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Do Solar Panels Need Servicing

In general, solar panels are highly efficient, have long lifespans and require very little maintenance. A high-quality solar system will last for more than 25 years in most cases without too much effort on your part. However, you should clean your solar panels at least once or twice a year since they can accumulate dust and dirt over time. While you can clean your panels yourself, having seasoned solar technicians inspect and clean your panels at least once a year is by far the easiest way to ensure your solar panels stay in peak condition for years to come.

When Is It A Definitely A Good Idea To Clean Your Solar Panels

The one case where you may want to go out of your way to clean your panels is if there is any type of localized soiling that isnât getting removed by wind or rain. This can include stubborn bird poop that has hardened on the panel and isnât getting washed away, or leaves that have fallen on the panels and maybe gotten stuck against the edge of the frame.

Cleaning this type of debris can be a good idea because in rare cases it can cause hot spots in the panel. A hot spot in a solar panel can happen when only part of the panel is shaded.

A typical solar panel is made of 60 individual cells. When one of the cells is shaded, it doesnât generate power and may end up carrying the full current of neighboring unshaded cells. This large current load can cause significant heating, even to the point where the panel becomes damaged. In extremely rare cases, a hot spot can result in a fire.

Solar panels have built-in devices called bypass diodes that protect against hot spots. There are multiple bypass diodes for redundancy, so a catastrophic failure is very rare. Still, non-catastrophic failures due to hot spots do happen, so keeping the crap off your panels is a good idea.

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How Do You Clean Solar Panels

In most cases, getting your Solar Panels cleaned is a professional job, especially if they are roof mounted panels. This is because it is difficult to gain safe access to your Solar Panels otherwise. Another thing to consider, is that if you were to damage your Solar Panels in any way, your warranty would likely become void. By hiring a professional Solar Panel Expert, you will be in safe hands. As they will be knowledgable about the technology, as well as trained to work at heights with access equipment.

How Often Should You Clean Solar Panels

Solar Panel Cleaning

Your solar panels should be deep cleaned at least every six months. Late spring and autumn are the best times to clean them.

If you live in dusty and dry areas, like near farms or regions prone to air pollution like construction sites or industrial areas, you might need to clean your solar panels more often. You should try to do this at least every 3-4 months.

If your panels are relatively flat, you may have this issue as well.

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Cleaning Solar Panels With A Squeegee

The most popular method for cleaning solar panels is using a squeegee.

Many people believe that this technique is the best way to clean solar panels because it can be done without using any water at all.

This makes it much more eco-friendly and cost-effective than the power washer method.

One of the biggest benefits of using this technique is that you can clean them much faster than with a power washer.

Its also great for those that are extremely eco-conscious because it doesnt require any water use at all, which can save you money on your utility bills over time.

One of the issues that people can run into when attempting this method is that you might not be able to reach every inch of each panel.

Also, if there are any stains or discolorations on your panels, you will have a difficult time removing them with this method.

This is why some people use it as a first step before using the power washer technique.

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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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Is It Alright To Clean Solar Panels Using A Pressure Washer

The answer to this question is: it depends!

Using a pressure washer to clean your array on the roof means that you can just blast on the water without having to use other tools since the pressure is usually enough to get rid of dirt and debris.

However, too much power can cause the seals around the cells to break and allow water and humidity to enter. While this wont happen immediately, the leaks could become bigger over time and cause your panels to fail.

Scrub & Wipe Down The Panels

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It helps to bring a bottle of warm water with a small amount of mild soap so you dont have to carry a lot of stuff up to your panels. Spray any stuck-on debris like bird droppings or dirt with the solution and gently scrape it off with the nylon brush. For panels that arent extremely dirty, you can just wipe them down with a soft cloth to clean the panel.

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Does Cleaning Your Solar Panels Make A Difference

In general, cleaning your solar panels wont make much of a difference. Its likely not worth it for you to spend your time or money on having them cleaned professionally or on your own. If you monitor how well theyre working and your electric bills, you can pinpoint when a cleaning might be necessary, but thats not common.

There are some circumstances where you may find that cleaning them will make a difference.

If your panels lay almost flat, around 0º to 5º, you live downwind, theres a heavy concentration of dust in your area, there is excess pollution, frequent wildfires, or it is mild enough for moss to thrive and grow, you may find these circumstances lead to dirtier panels.

In these cases, where bird droppings, sticky pollen build-up, and debris from smoke can start to interfere, and rain may not necessarily work to get it all off.

Suppose you notice a significant difference in your panels functionality and efficiency, and your electric bill starts to increase. In that case, you may be looking at a bigger problem than just cleaning. Typically, cleaning your panels will only account for 5% efficiency, but it depends on how dirty theyve become.

Even if you live somewhere reasonably wet, getting up on the roof and giving your panels a visual inspection every once in a while is a great habit to get into to ensure everything looks good and is working order. Preventing maintenance issues are far less costly than reacting to a significant issue once its happened.

How To Clean Solar Panels On Your Roof

What is the best way to clean solar panels? For the DIY-minded you should find the materials at home. Because you dont want to scratch your system in any way, its best to use just water and a non-abrasive sponge to apply soapy water.

Use a mild detergent, if you feel like you need some extra help.

And if youre asking yourself if you can use a pressure washer to clean your solar panels, we encourage you to only use a normal hose. Using anything with high pressure may cause damage. Use a sponge if the birds have made a mess and nothing stronger than the detergent you would use with your dishes. You dont want any strong chemicals marking the panels.

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How To Clean Solar Panels Safely And Effectively

If youve got solar panels installed at your home or business, youve probably considered the issues of maintenance. Do solar panels need cleaning? How often do solar panels need to be cleaned? Can you use a pressure washer to clean solar panels? What other special equipment might you need for this whole thing? How much does it cost to clean solar panels?

Thankfully, the question doesnt need a complicated or expensive answer. So, if youre ready to learn what is the best way to clean solar panels, youll be relieved that its not a huge deal at all.

How To Clean Your Solar Panels

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While solar panels are relatively self-cleaning, it is recommended that you clean your solar panels up to two times a year to reach maximum efficiency. This can be completed by most individuals on their own, but if preferred, a professional can perform your solar panel cleaning. You can easily clean your solar panels by following these steps:

  • The first step to cleaning your solar panels should always be to check your manufacturers instructions. If noted, follow their recommended instructions for cleaning to ensure you do not void any manufacturers warranty.
  • Safely remove any loose, excess debris and dirt from your solar panels by lightly rubbing it off or spraying it with water. Doing so will make it easier to remove any built on grime.
  • Remain on the ground, if possible, and use a high-quality soft brush and a squeegee to safely clean off your solar panels using soap and water.
  • After cleaning your solar panels with the soft brush, use a hose with a light stream of water to rinse off the remaining soap from the panels and allow the dirt to run off.
  • Ensure you are thoroughly rinsing off all excess soap and water to prevent unnecessary buildup down the line.
  • Allow the solar panels to air dry instead of trying to wipe them off with a brush or towel .
  • Cleaning solar panels is not that much different than cleaning a typical window, making it a relatively easy task for most homeowners to take on themselves by following the simple steps mentioned above.

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