Flat Panels Are An Exception They Need Cleaning
Rain will wash most of the filth off panels, but only if they are at an angle. When solar panels lie flat water can pool on them and have nowhere to go. Eventually it evaporates and leaves grime behind. Worse, things such as leaves and other debris can land on solar panels and just stay there and seriously affect performance. A thin layer of grime will let most light pass through, but a leaf is specifically designed to capture light. After all, it is a naturally occurring type of solar panel.
To avoid these problems, and because it is bad to have any electronic item sitting in water for an extended period of time, it is a very good idea to put solar panels on flat roofs in frames that tilt them at least 10 degrees.
If your panels arent tilted then youll have no choice but to clean them if you want to keep their performance up. Google found that while cleaning their tilted solar panels wasnt worth the effort, cleaning their flat ones after they got particularly dirty could double their output.
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.
How To Clean Solar Panels: What Products Should You Use If Any
When cleaning your solar panels, the most important consideration to keep in mind is that scratching or damaging the glass in any way will reduce a panels energy production. Its best to approach panel cleaning the same way you might clean your car. Dish soap and warm water applied with a soft sponge or cloth is the safest and easiest cleaning method. It may also be helpful to use a squeegee to remove dirty water. Remember avoid damaging or scratching the glass at all costs!
On rare occasions, oily stains can appear on your panels. You might find these if you live near a common truck route or an airport, and they can be tackled with a little isopropyl alcohol and a rag. It is essential to avoid using strong cleaning fluids, however, as these can streak and damage the glass.
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Does Your Solar Lease Cover Panel Maintenance
In general, solar lease agreements will include a maintenance clause of some sort. Some companies will perform regular maintenance on their panels, and others will repair damages the customer reports. It is important to remember that solar panels generally require little maintenance, and simply spraying your panels down with a hose occasionally can do the trick.
What Are The Advantages Of Hiring A Professional To Clean Your Solar Panels
As with any cleaning job, hiring a professional to clean your solar panels is the only way to ensure it gets done right.
Cleaning your solar panels can put you at risk of accidentally damaging them.
Another advantage of hiring a professional to clean your solar panels is that it can be very time-consuming.
It is a lot of work, and it is impossible to complete the job without taking multiple days out of your schedule.
A professional will have all the necessary equipment to properly clean your panels which will save you a lot of time and effort compared to doing it yourself.
Professionals are also capable of completing the job faster because they have more equipment and resources at their disposal.
This ensures that you get your solar panels back sooner rather than later.
Note: In choosing a professional, be sure to do some research on companies in your area and read reviews from past customers before making a decision.
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Is Cleaning Solar Panels Worth It
Some feel that cleaning solar panels is far too much trouble to even consider, but this causes the efficiency level to drop as more and more dirt accumulates on the surface of the panels. It could drop a few percentages, or by a massive amount, over the course of several years.
Solar panels are created with a protective layer on them that keeps them protected from bad weather. Over the course of several years, the accumulation of dust and other materials will reduce the overall efficiency. For a typical 5kW solar system in a residential dwelling, yearly cleaning would only result in a few pounds worth of electricity production being gained.
Dust gathering on solar panels does make a difference in terms of performance, but in some locations, it is not a large enough factor to warrant cleaning. If the decline in power output is only small, and the power consumption of the household is still covered by the panels, then the cleaning might not be worth the further investment.
For the larger commercial rooftop system, the financial losses are bigger if the solar panels do not perform at optimal levels. However, it is still enough to warrant the cost of washing the panels, especially as it does not tend to happen too often.
If you invest in a cleaning company to wash and tidy your solar panels, there is no return on your investment. So the cost of cleaning tends to be more than the results that are produced.
Who Can Clean Solar Panels
Any able-bodied person can clean their own solar panels, as long as they do so from the ground, or have professional knowledge of carrying out rooftop solar panel cleaning. If this isnt possible, you will need to hire a Clean Energy Council accredited technician with the appropriate safety and equipment training instead.
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Cleaning Solar Panels With Soap And Water
Although this is probably the least effective way of cleaning your panels, it can still get the job done.
The biggest benefit is that it allows you to use your water pressure to your advantage.
This is because the added force will help push any dirt or debris off of your panels and allow them to drain properly.
You also wont have to worry about damaging the surface of the panels while using this technique.
Another benefit can be that this method is very cheap and easy.
You will only need a bucket of water and some soap that you can pour on the panels.
Another benefit can be that its safe for those solar panels with microfibers because the pressure used should not damage them.
One of its biggest drawbacks is that it requires you to use a lot more time and effort while using relatively low pressure for cleaning.
Another drawback can be that, if there are stains or discolorations on your panels, they might not come off with this technique.
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For Minimal Dust Build
If your panels messiness is mostly just dust and dirt build-up, then you likely wont need more than a simple hose-down to get them clean and tidy. A garden hose should do the trick, provided it can reach your panels. Simply spray them down fully, and youre good to go. You can let them dry off in the sun.
Just be sure that you dont spray the panels with high-pressure jets, or with a pressure washer. This might scratch or damage the panels themselves, which can lead to lowered performance and efficiency.
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Check For Debris On A Weekly Basis
With ground-mounted solar panels, its relatively easy to see if you have debris collecting. However, if you have a roof system, it can be trickier to tell, and easy to forget about if your panels are mounted on a part of the house that is not visible from the street. Chances are the wind will take care of most of the debris for you, but its better to play it safe.
A simple, weekly check will allow you to remove any build-up before it has the chance to cause issues. When youre doing this, be sure to gently move the materials away from the surface of the panel and avoid roughly brushing them off.
This will help you to prevent accidentally scratching up the surface.
Can I Use A Pressure Washer When Cleaning My Solar Panels
No. Not at all. High-pressure water is among the biggest enemies of your solar equipment.
First, high-speed moisture can quickly force its way through the seals around the frames and get into vulnerable technology. These water leakages can promote corrosion of the fine wires, which leads to the failure of the solar panel and its photovoltaic cells.
Also, the glass surface can break under high water pressure. We hear you asking, “Why then don’t we see damage resulting from continuous rainfall pounding on the glass?” Thats because panels are designed to resist hours of heavy rain falling across a wide surface area. But washing the panels with high pressure directs a focused beam of water in a highly concentrated spot, which creates an increased chance of stressed areas that can crack.
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Shut Down Your System And Disconnect Rainwater Tanks
Before starting, you need to completely shut your solar panels and inverters down. This helps prevent any electrical problems that could arise if they are cleaned while turned on.
You should also disconnect your rainwater tanks so the dirty water from your solar panels cleaning doesnt flow into your tank.
For More Extensive Mess: Scrub Them Down
If the mess on your panels is more than just dust and dirt, and includes sticky substances such as bird droppings or sticky plant materials, then you might need to give the panels a good scrubbing.
Once again, you dont want to be too hard on the panels. Pick a soft scrubber, squeegee, or brush, that wont scratch or damage the panels. Also pick a very mild soap, that doesnt contain any chemicals which could harm or degrade the panels.
From there, heres how you clean the panels:
- Fill a bucket with warm water and add a small amount of mild soap.
- Rinse solar panels with a hose, or with another low-pressure sprayer.
- Use soapy water and the scrubber to gently scrub the panels and clean them of any debris or buildup.
- Rinse solar panels thoroughly to remove any soapy water.
- Allow panels to dry in the sun.
And there you have it, its quite the straightforward process, and doesnt require much beyond a scrubber that is capable of reaching across your panels. But remember, solar panels get very hot on sunny summer days. You might want to schedule your clean for early in the morning or late in the evening.
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When Should I Call A Professional
Just like washing your car or cleaning your home, you can hire a professional to clean your solar panels.
If you have a rooftop system, it may be a good idea to call a professional cleaning service. In addition to the convenience of not climbing up on the roof yourself, professionals are properly equipped for rooftop safety. Whenever hiring a professional, you should check to make sure they are licensed and bonded. For ground units, it may not be worth the service fee since you can safely clean your own panels with a simple dose of hose water and liquid soap.
What Do I Use To Clean Solar Panels
The best way to clean the solar panels is by using water, mild soap, and a soft sponge. Also, you can use a garden hose to spread water on the panels’ surface. Further, you must be very careful not to scratch the panels in any way. Do not use high-pressure water on the surface as it will damage the panels. Instead, use mild soapy water and wash the panels with a soft sponge. Then, rinse it with clean water with the help of the hose.
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How Durable Are Solar Panels
Although the solar panel itself is fragile the glass surrounding it is very durable. Solar panels are surrounded by tempered glass supported by metal.
The keyword here is TEMPERED.
Any reputable solar company will use tempered glass by default. The other option is a FLAT PLATE GLASS which is far cheaper and much less durable. If a solar company shows you a quote that makes your head scratch in comparison to competitors, check the panel manufacturer, and be sure that the glass is in fact tempered.
A solar system is designed to withstand almost all weather conditions nationwide. The solar panels and system, in general, can withstand 90 plus MPH winds, golf ball-sized hail, small tree branches, and most athletics balls that are used around the system.
Reports have been made of solar customers who have portions of their roofs covered in solar panels, and go through a hail storm with their panels coming out fine. However, the shingles on the non-solar parts of the roof had to be replaced!
How Do You Maintain Solar Panels
Clean your solar panels with a solution of water and mild detergent. Apply the solution to each panel either with a garden hose or a soft brush. For stubborn dirt, remove any debris with soapy water and a scrubbing pad. After rinsing off the collectors, let them dry for at least 12 hours. Its important to keep your solar panels clean of all debris. This will not only help with generating electricity, but it will also look better.Now that you know how to clean your solar panels, you should be ready for whatever Mother Nature throws at them. Remember, always use a long-handled squeegee rather than a broom, and never use hot water when clearing the snow.
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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:
How Often Should You Clean Your Solar Panels
A big question people often ask themselves is, how often should I clean my solar panels? Regular cleaning should be part of your panel maintenance routines. Clean solar panels are usually more efficient.
In This Article
This article explains the frequency with which you should clean your solar panels, who should do the cleaning, and why the panels should be cleaned. Read on!
How To Clean Solar Panels On Your Roof In Australia
While keeping your solar panel clean is generally a good idea, you dont have to clean it every time you see grime building up. Start by monitoring your solar panel output from month to month. If theres a noticeable decrease in panel performance or you see a lot of dirt build-up on your PV cells, then it might be time to clean. Otherwise, you can hold off cleaning until you really need to do it.
If youve decided to clean your solar panels yourself, you need to know how to do it properly. You can clean your solar panels with these six steps.