If Rain Wont Do The Trick Alone How Do You Determine If Cleaning Is Worthwhile
If youve had solar panels for a whilea year, maybe moreyouve most likely noticed how their energy production varies from month to month due to weather changes and the suns changing position overhead as the seasons progress. With a little bit of experience monitoring your solar array, youll learn how much fluctuation to expect over the course of a year. If you start noticing reduced output at a time when weather patterns seem on par with what youve come to expect, dirty panels could be the main factor. If or when that happens, consider these questions:
Cleaning Solar Panels Overview
To clean PV solar panels, it’s best to use water and a soft cloth or brush.
However, grime buildup may require a tougher solution to effectively remove dirt and dust from the modules.
The safest way to clean your dirty panels is to use a mild cleaning solution specifically formulated for solar panels.
This way, dirt, and dust are removed without damaging the modules.
Moreover, brushes are also essential cleaning tools that every home should have.
Solar panels are often installed in hard-to-reach areas that can be challenging to clean.
Most Solar Panel cleaning brushes are designed with extension poles so you can clean the panels even from a safe distance.
While cloth and water are simple cleaning solutions for domestic PV Solar Power systems, you may also use some mild cleaning products that offer a faster and simpler approach for easy maintenance.
The most common materials you need in maintaining your Solar Panels include cleaning solutions, squeegees, extensions, and brushes.
So, how often do you clean your Solar Panels at home? Do they still produce high output to help reduce electricity consumption? This all-in guide is all you need to ensure your Solar Power System works smoothly and efficiently no matter the season.
Page tags:solar panel cleaning, solar panel maintenance
What Is The Standard Warranty For Solar Panels
Make sure you are getting a good solar panel warranty before you go solar. This is because if your solar panels’ efficiency does start to decrease, you’ll need professional maintenance that can potentially cost you thousands of dollars over the years. A good solar company will give you a warranty of between 15 and 25 years, and guarantee that your panels’ energy production remains at 85% or above for that entire time.
Find the best solar companies in your area!
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Cleaning Solar Panels Yourself Vs Hiring A Professional
While cleaning them yourself may seem like a great way to save money, in most cases, its not only a risk to your solar system and the panels warranty, but its a risk to your own safety. No amount of energy savings is worth that. Youre also risking causing damage to your system that far exceeds any gains cleaning dirt off would ever give you.
We dont recommend you clean your solar panels, but if youre really set on it, stick to these basic tips to limit damage to your system.
First off, check-in with the solar installer to see if there is anything you should know relating to the system or special precautions you should take before cleaning. Then, make sure all the necessary safety gear is in place and being used properly.
Only use a soft stream of water from your garden hose . Using any type of high-pressure attachment or a power washer will likely cause damage to your solar panels which could greatly reduce your production and void your warranty.
Its also essential to never clean your panels with anything waxy, abrasive, or corrosive, as it could damage the coating on the panels. In fact, one of our solar panel manufacturers recommends never using any chemicals to clean your panels – just water.
Another important thing to note is that solar panels can get very hot when the sun is out. Opt for an overcast day to do the cleaning, if youre absolutely determined to do so.
How Often Do Solar Panels Need Maintenance
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Since a lot of people are now switching to sustainable energy, solar energy has now become one of the most sought-after sources. Over time, it helps you save energy and money, and is also beneficial for the planet, making it a great investment.
Solar panels can last for 25 year or more if properly maintained. A first-time user may find himself anxious or confused on how to properly take care of solar panels at home without breaking them or shortening their life span.
We often ask: do solar panels really need to be maintained? Are they delicate? Do we need special tools or chemicals to get the job done? Or, should we hire a professional all the time?
Well, solar panels actually require very little maintenance for them to work properly. Unless there is heavy snowfall, the only care that they need is very light cleaning from time to time to keep leaves, dirt, and other scraps from obstructing the suns rays.
It is highly recommended that you clean your solar panels at least twice a year. And what special tools should you use? All you need is a leaf blower or a garden hose and spray them quickly with water. Your panels will be clean in no time. There is no need to use soaps or other cleaning agents as these might harm the top sheet of the solar panels.
In winter though, use lukewarm water and squeegee when cleaning. Avoid using hot water, as the sudden shift of temperature might cause the tempered glass on your solar panels to crack or break.
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When To Call A Pro
There are three times when you might want to call a professional for your solar panel cleaning and maintenance:
- When its part of the warranty. Some solar panel installers will offer a solar panel cleaning, or two, as part of the package deal when you purchase your panels. If so, it doesnt hurt to take them up on their offer.
- When you dont feel comfortable doing it yourself. Not a ladder person? If youre afraid of heights, injured, infirm or otherwise unwilling or unable to climb onto your roof to tackle the job of cleaning solar panels, its best to hire a professional to clean yours. You can expect to spend about $150 on average for this type of service.
- When something has caused your solar panels to be really dirty. If your property has heavy tree coverage, you can expect your solar panels to quickly fill up with bird droppings. This can be difficult to remove, especially when it becomes baked on by the sun.
Is It Really Necessary Yes
People often forget that their solar panels will eventually need maintenance. This includes regular cleanings and inspections to ensure optimum production levels. The difficult part is figuring out how often to get them cleaned.
Google recently did an experiment at their solar farm in Mountain View, CA. They found that Cleaning their solar panels was the number one way to maximize the energy they produce . Dust, grime, dirt, and other debris can accumulate on the surface of your system and cause blockage. Some homeowners dismiss the need for professional cleanings, claiming that rainfall will naturally wash away the debris.
Experts found, Rain is not a satisfying way of cleaning solar panels. Solar panels that were cleaned professionally had a 12% higher output of electricity compared to those cleaned by rain . Depending on the size of your home, that could have a significant impact on your energy bill each month. California is currently running the course of its fifth consecutive year in a drought. This depletes consumers of the natural rainfall that would otherwise give them a good rinse. Your panels could collect dirt and debris quicker/slower than someone who lives on another side of town.
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What Not To Do When Cleaning Your Solar Panels
While cleaning your solar panels should never pose much of a problem, there are a couple of key things you should avoid in order to ensure no damage is done to your array and or to yourself.
- As a general rule, stay on the ground. Nobody should get up on your roof without a secure ladder and proper fall protection equipment. We highly recommend hiring a professional if theres a need to go on the roof for panel cleaning.
- Avoid using hard or mineral-rich water. It may damage panels over time. If your area only has hard tap water, you can buy an inexpensive water-softening hose attachment to filter out minerals. Otherwise, you can use distilled or deionized water.
- While not recommended, if using a high-pressure water nozzle, do not get close to the panels. While panels are extremely durable, you do not want to risk any potential damage.
- Avoid the use of abrasive brushes, pads or powders. Instead, choose soft-bristle brushes, towels, and squeegees if necessary. Many customers have seen success in lightweight, inexpensive microfiber brushes and towels.
How Can You Check If Your Panels Need Cleaning
Even if you intend to keep your solar panels clean, it can be tricky knowing whens the right time to get them done. This is especially true if, like most people, your panels are located on your roof.
If you do plan on completing a physical inspection, it will be obvious even to the untrained eye if your panels are dirty or not. You are looking for a layer of dust , any dirt trapped in the corner, and chips and cracks on the surface.
Its very important that you keep in mind proper safety procedures before climbing on to your roof. Heres what John Anderson, of Severe Weather Roofing and Restoration in Denver, CO recommends:
1. Walk carefully, never bounce or jump on you roof.
2. Wear a toolbelt and raise and lower power tools with a rope.
3. Wear shoes with plenty of traction. Work boots work the best, because of their well-defined heels.
This old house also has some great safety tips here.
For those who prefer to put their feet up rather than clamber about on roofs, the vast majority of monitoring tools that will keep you updated on how your panels are performing. If you notice a considerable dip in power compared to normal performance over a sustained period of time it is likely dirt or damage is the cause.
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.
How To Clean Solar Panels : A Step By Step Guide
The interest in green energy has been on the rise in recent years, and solar panels are on the top of that list because they are the most accessible to the public. They are easily mounted to the roof of your home and are relatively low maintenance. However, they do need to be cleaned every so often to ensure that they keep working efficiently.
To clean your solar panels, disconnect them first from the power grid to ensure your own and your panels safety. Then brush them off, spray them with some water, and use a cloth to wipe away any dirt on their surface. Lastly, rinse them again, let them dry and reconnect them to your power grid.
In this article, well go over a few topics related to this subject, such as discussing why solar panels need to be cleaned, when and how often they should be cleaned, and how youll be able to clean them most effectively. Lets get right into it!
Summary of the Article
Tools And Materials Needed To Clean Solar Panels
Chances are, you wont have to purchase much in order to clean your solar panels. Harsh chemicals or detergents can damage your panels, as can powerful streams of water such as those emitted by a power washer. Below, weve created a comprehensive list of tools you might need for cleaning solar panels.
- Sponge: Choose a large, soft to medium sponge for this job. A harsh scrubbing sponge can damage the protective coating on solar panels.
- Soap: A gentle dish detergent is the best choice here, and its wise to use soap sparingly to avoid product build-up or streaking.
- Telescoping Rod: A long-handled sponge or telescoping rod with a sponge attached to the end prevents you from having to climb onto your roof.
- Ladder: In the absence of a tool with a long handle, youll need a ladder for solar panel cleaning.
How Much Production Are You Losing With Dirty Panels
Anything that comes between your solar panels and the sun will have an impact on how much electricity the system produces. But whether or not you should do something about it depends on how much electricity youre losing out on. After all, professional cleaning services cost money.
In the case of typical dirt build-up on solar panels, the reduction in production is so small that its hardly ever worth taking action.
The same University of San Diego study found that less than 0.05% of your panels production was lost due to dirt each day – and thats in an area of the country infamous for infrequent rains. For a 5 kW system during Californias driest season, summer, washing the panels halfway through would lead to just a $20 gain in electricity production for the entire three months.
If you have a much larger solar system at your business or farm, youre probably thinking but I produce much more electricity, so Im losing out on more savings! Thats certainly true. If you have a larger system, youre probably losing out on a lot more than $20, but is it still enough to pay for professional cleaning services or risk damage to yourself or your system?
To get an idea of how much your dirty solar panels are costing you, you can calculate how much a daily production loss of .05% will cost in 30 days by using the following formula. Just keep in mind this number can vary based on your own situation.
Cost of Monthly Production Loss Due to Dirt = x x
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How To Clean Solar Panels Solar Panel Cleaning Guide
Few topics have the power to polarize solar energy enthusiasts like the subject of how to .
When should I clean them? What should I use to clean them? Are there companies that can do this for me? Should I even be cleaning them at all?
These kind of questions are completely understandable. When youve invested a significant sum of money into generating your own energy and being as green as possible, you want to squeeze every last drop of energy that you possibly can out of your panels.
Thats why weve created this definitive guide to solar panel cleaning. Here youll find the answer to almost any solar panel cleaning-related question that you can think of. From what makes your panels dirty in the first place and the reasons to clean them, to a rundown of equipment available and some top tips to make sure you get the best results, weve got all of the answers you need.
Ready? Then lets get to it.
How To Gauge When Its Time To Clean Solar Panels
The most obvious way to tell when solar panels need cleaning is when the efficiency of the system begins to decline.
Pollution is typically higher during the winter when cold air traps pollutants closer to the ground than the warmer air of summer. That means spring is the best time of year to clean solar panels, as they become too hot to touch during the summer. The best time of day to clean them is in the morning or early evening when they are cooler.
There are companies working on ways to use advanced technology to monitor the condition of solar panels and remove some of the guesswork.
Researchers in Spain have received a patent for a solution that attaches a sensor to the glass surface of a panel and uses an LED light to measure the amount of dirt that has built up. The US National Renewable Energy Laboratory is also developing a way to monitor the amount of electricity panels produce every day to detect when soiling has begun to degrade output.
Ecoppiaâs cloud-based platform uses sensors and machine learning to monitor a solar PV system, collect weather data, and travel across trackers to clean panels on an optimized schedule.
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