Why Should I Clean My Solar Panels
We know that dust, dirt, pollen, bird droppings, and other debris can negatively affect solar panel efficiency.
Google conducted a groundbreaking experiment at their 1.6 MW solar farm in Mountain View, California. They found that cleaning the solar panels was the number one way to maximize the energy they produce. Cleaning solar panels that had been in operation for 15 months doubled their output of electricity.
Google concluded that for flat solar panels, relying on rain alone is not an adequate way of cleaning solar panels.
A Water Hose From Ground
Rinsing rooftop solar from the ground-level with a hose is the safest cleaning method in most cases.
The water spray should fall on the solar panels like rainwater and let gravity do the heavy lifting.
When bird poo proves to be a tough opponent to your man-made shower, be patient.
A second or third pass of the water hose should remove most of it after the bird dropping has been softened by the water.
Staying on ground-level also means there is less risk of falling.
Cost Of Solar Panel Cleaning Services
Solar panel cleaning companies normally either charge per module or charge a flat rate for the entire array. You can expect to pay between $5 and $10 per panel, or $150 to $200 for the entire system, though prices may vary depending on location, season and other factors.
If you don’t have solar panels yet, some installers may offer free cleaning for a limited time after your purchase. However, this shouldn’t be the main factor when choosing your solar provider. Free cleaning is a nice perk, but make sure you’re actually getting a high-quality installation.
Also Check: How To Remove Solar Panels
Q: How Often Should Solar Panels Be Cleaned
Unfortunately, it is often the case that the installation date the last time a solar system owner ever looks at their panels until something goes wrong.
We at Lime Solar Cleaning recommend that panels be cleaned and inspected at a minimum once every six months. Cleaning at regular intervals prevents buildup of residue and keeps your panels operating optimally at all times.
Regular checks can also prevent cracks or fire risks from developing into something worse but youll need to know what youre looking for in order to identify these issues in the first place.
Does Rain Help Or Hurt How Much
In a study conducted in Spain, researchers measured an average performance reduction of only 4.4 percent after a years worth of dust buildup. Most solar panel owners could probably live with that. But the study also found that in long periods without rain, daily energy losses can be higher than 20%.1 So, in a dry climate where dust buildup is the main issue, the problem remains pretty simple: a lack of rain results in dust buildup that might get progressively worse the longer the dry spell lasts.
Meanwhile, normal rainfall can rinse away dust and keep solar panels producing at around 95 percent of their maximum capacity. That conclusion might lead you to assume that solar panels in climates with frequent rainfall should require less maintenance. Not so fast! Most of the time theres more to the equation than just dust. Pollen, bird droppings, leaves, ash, and a hazy film that can form when smog or smoke hang heavy in the atmosphere can all combine into a layer of surface soiling, which may or may not wash away in the rain. Heres a report from Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews2 that digs into the many complex variables involved. The research concludes that allowing rain to do the work of cleaning solar panels is a fine decision if, and only if, you live in the right kind of place, such as:
Don’t Miss: How Many Batteries Per Solar Panel
Cleaning Solar Panels Is Worth The Effort
Cleaning solar panels is not really that much different than cleaning a typical window. It is not very time-consuming either. In return, you could see a big boost in your system performance, and big cash savings on your electric bills.
In other words, neglecting to clean your solar panels is like throwing money out of the window.
If you dont want to clean the panels yourself, solar panel cleaning services are available for those out there that are willing to spend the extra buck.
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.
Don’t Miss: How Many Homes In California Have Solar Panels
Dust Leaves And Water Common Solar Blockers
Dust causes regular problems beyond the build-up of grime over the years. But your exact location also plays a big role in how much this can affect your system, and what triggers it.
A bit of dust might not have an effect, according to tests done by Ontario Solar Installers, because light can still get through. They recommend that you let nature take its course, as rain will accomplish most of the task of solar panels cleaning.
A test done by one company found the amount the efficiency is lowered is minute maybe 5 per cent or less. And, with a typical 5 kW system, this might equate to about $20 of loss in your energy bill. Another company found that a thorough clean made the panels 3.5 per cent more efficient.
And if this isnt enough evidence for you, clean technology website CleanTechnica reported an analysis by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory that showed a potential 30 per cent energy yield loss per year, if they are not cleaned monthly.
Beyond this, though, its important to remember that leaves also block light. In an experiment carried out by company Mountain View, cleaning flat designs doubled their energy overnight after 15 months of operation. However, the tests confirmed that rain on rooftop panels also tends to do the job.
Special attention should be given to PV arrays situated in dustier areas if they are near farmland or next to a main road. These arrays have far more dust and dirt to contend with and will require a more frequent clean.
Can You Pressure Wash Solar Panels
Power washers are good for a lot of things, but cleaning solar panels is not one of them. Pressure washers are too powerful to safely clean solar panels and can end up causing scratches or other damage. If your solar panels are dirty, it’s best to use a non-abrasive sponge and soapy water. Better yet, call a professional who can ensure that the job is completed properly and safely.
Don’t Miss: How Much Power Does A 7kw Solar System Produce
Rainwater Doesnt Do It For You
Most solar panel owners dont clean their panels after it rains because they think they dont need to because the rain water will do it for them. But thats not true. Similar to how you need to clean your cars windshield more often during the rainy season, your solar panels need to be cleaned more often as well. So, it is recommended that you dont rely on rain water to clean your panels automatically, because it just doesnt happen.
Another Option: Have Them Serviced
Another option, if you dont feel like doing the work yourself, is to have the panels serviced by a professional. If you purchased directly from a solar panel company, then check the manufactures website to see if there are providers in your area that can have them serviced.
Many companies offer service plans upon purchasing the panel itself. These plans might include regular maintenance and upkeep. They might also include regular checkups to ensure that the panels are running as efficiently as they should.
But if it were up to us, we wouldnt choose this option. These services might end up costing you a fair bit. Youre essentially spending money so that you can save on your electricity bill down the line. Youre cancelling out your own cost savings! And since cleaning solar panels isnt a very difficult task to begin with, wed recommend against hiring someone for this job in most circumstances.
Remember, youre essentially comparing the cost of servicing the panels against the cost youd save by generating more energy with cleaner panels. These costs will rarely offset.
Recommended Reading: What Does A Solar Cover Do For A Pool
Do I Have To Clean My Solar Panels
Sometimes. Cleaning your solar panels is easy. In fact, rain does a great job of cleaning your solar panels for you. Otherwise, in times of heavy dust or other regional weather issues, you may have to rinse your solar panels to clear the dust and debris.
To find a solar panel cleaning company in your area, please give us a call and we will connect you directly to an approved solar panel cleaning company.
If you decide to clean your own solar panels, we have a few recommendations:
- Spray your panels with a hose from the ground do not get on your roof.
- Do not use harsh cleaning chemicals that could damage the panels.
- You should not clean your solar panels during the hottest part of the day because the extreme temperature difference between the water and the solar panels may cause the glass to crack.
Some notes about solar panel cleaning and your Sunnova energy plan:
Although Sunnova home solar systems come with the Sunnova Protect warranty1, you will want to keep your solar panels free of debris and obstructions in order to keep your solar system operating at optimum levels.
Regularly trim any trees around your solar system so they dont block sunlight from reaching your solar panels. The analysis performed at your home during the pre-installation site visit established a benchmark for tree shading, which you are expected to maintain for the lifetime of your solar energy plan.
Is It Necessary To Clean Solar Panels
Hey Mr. Green,
I generate about 140 to 160 percent of my annual electricity consumption while putting excess power back on the grid. But I have never bothered using software to track my solar panel performance. How much better do solar panels perform if they’re washed each year?
Michael in Santa Clara, California
University of San Diego researchers looked into this question and concluded that since less than 0.05 percent of energy could be lost per day due to dirt, it was not worth the effort or the expense to clean solar panels. Even a mild rain rinses off most of the obstructing dirt, pollen, etc., which led them to conclude that hiring someone to clean the panels does not pay off.
There are, however, a few exceptions that can make cleaning the panels worthwhile. If your panels are installed at less than a 5 degree angle, then they should be washed periodically because rain alone might not carry away the accumulated dirt.
Engineers also found a few sites where photovoltaic panels were dirty enough to warrant cleaning due to specific, localized circumstances. For example, being directly next to and downwind of a highway, factory, or agricultural field may generate enough dirt to warrant periodic cleaning.
A third issue is bird droppings, which, if heavy enough, could block enough sunlight to make a cleaning necessary.
Like what you read? Sign up for daily updates from Sierra magazine.
Sign up is Processing
Whoops! Something went wrong. Please email
You May Like: Is Solar The Cheapest Form Of Energy
How Do I Clean Solar Panels
Early morning can be a particularly good time as the panels will have cooled overnight and morning dew can help to soften any grime leading to less water and effort to clean the panels.
If the panels are dry, use the soft brush to brush any loose dirt before tackling the panels with water. If hard water is all that is available, then be sure to squeegee the panels as well as possible as hard water will form deposits on glass as it dries.
Consider When To Clean Your Solar Panels
Most solar panel providers will recommend that you clean your solar panels with water and a hose. Usually, its really that simple. You dont need a lot of fancy equipment to clean your panels. Think of it this way: most solar panels are made of silicon and glass. Theyre specifically designed to either absorb heat and turn that into energy or directly convert sunlight into energy. There are no moving parts so they just sit in the exact same position all day underneath the heat of the sun.
What does this mean?
It means your solar panels can get really hot. Were not talking about how attractive they are . We mean like temperature-wise. Its even possible that a sudden splash of cold water could crack a solar panel. You may not see it the first time you wash your solar panels, but you might notice it the fifth, sixth, or tenth time. Even if you dont notice any visual damage for a long time, youll probably notice that your panels are no longer as effective as they once were. This could all be due to you throwing cold water on a hot solar panel.
Be cognizant of the fact that solar panels get hot in the afternoon and instead clean them early in the morning before the sun heats them up or in the evening after theyve had a chance to cool down. Doing this will help reduce the risk that youll accidentally damage one or more of the solar cells on your solar energy system.
You May Like: How Did Our Solar System Form
Use Water With A Similar Temperature
Solar panel manufacturers do not recommend the use of cold or hot water to clean the panels. The reason behind this is that sudden and drastic differences in temperature could crack the surface of the glass.
It is best to clean your solar panels using ambient temperature water during early mornings , when the modules temperatures will be low after cooling down overnight and when the solar generation has not started.
How Dirt & Pollution Can Damage Solar Cells
Not only will dirt and airborne pollutants affect the production of solar panels, but they will also harm the solar cells themselves. A conventional and regular cell shaded by dust gatherings will act as a resistance to the power generated by other cells and this, in turn, causes the shaded cell to heat up and damage the cell..
Many solar systems are not independently connected to a microinverter and rely on the surrounding cells to maintain solar productivity. SunPower cells, however, are all independently connected to the microinverter and the cells around one another are not affected in any way by each other. If one cell were to be shaded or covered in dust, the others will continue working fine without damaging the shaded cell. But the production of that one cell will still be affected by the dust.
You May Like: How Much Do Solar Panels Cost In Oklahoma
Should You Remove Snow From Your Solar Panels
Snow on solar panels generally doesnt need to be removed it will typically slide off on its own. Most panel installations are tilted at an angle, and snow will naturally slide off as it melts. If snow persists on your panels, you can also invest in tools like a solar panel snow rake, which makes it easy to safely remove snow covering on solar panels. It is important not to use a standard broom, shovel, or another non-specialized tool to remove snow from panels, as they can scratch the panel glass and lower your power production.
Why Cleaning Solar Panels Is Important
It is very important to clean your solar panels. Dirt on the solar panels prevents the entry of light. Moreover, solar panels are made to work by allowing light enters the solar cells. Bird poop, dust or pollen prevent the light from reaching the solar cells which eventually leads to less energy production.
Many people clean them on their own, however, if you are in London you can hire a professional cleaning company that is experienced I this job, so maybe its a better solution to let them do it for you.
The functionality of solar panels may be affected when they are dirty. Dirty panels tend to produce less energy than the clean ones under the same circumstances. Furthermore, a clean solar power means more efficiency while a dirty one may not be as efficient as needed. This is because dirt prevents light from impact in the on the cells.
Prevention of Dirt and Dust Build
Accumulated dust and dust cloud on solar panels decrease their performance capacity. If you leave your solar panels dirty, then, they will not perform to the optimum.
Get Rid of Bird Poop
Most solar panels are positioned that they can easily get bird droppings. Bird droppings are not washed away by rain and need manual cleaning. Again, they prevent the amount of light the solar cells get, therefore decreasing power generated.
Read Also: Is Home Solar Power Worth It
Should You Buy Or Lease Solar Panels
According to Forbes Advisor, it makes perfect sense to buy solar panels than to lease them from a provider. Unfortunately, not all families can afford the cost of setting up a solar array for the modern home.
Setting up a 3,000-watt to 8,000-watt residential solar system can cost the modern family anywhere between $9,255 and $28,000, averaging $18,628. This figure presupposes that the house is only 1,500 square feet, and the solar panels only cost between $2.50 and $3.50 per watt.
Sadly, this is not often the case. Homeowners can spend more on solar panels per watt or require more solar arrays to supply their homeâs power requirements. You might also want to factor in your homeâs solar potential, local labor costs, and local solar panel prices.
Hence, buying solar panels is beyond the reach of the average family. That is why many households are considering leasing solar panels.
Unfortunately, there are also caveats to this method. Understanding the different leasing solar panels pros and cons should help you make a better-informed decision.