Cleanliness is a sometimes time consuming, but necessary part of all our lives. It is important to clean ourselves and our homes, but did you know it is also important to clean your solar panels?
Often, people don’t realize the importance of cleaning their solar panels, even when they need it. After all, solar panels are usually located on the roof and, let’s face it, how many times have you cleaned your roof?
The difference is that the roof does not serve a function beyond being a roof. While it is functional and necessary, it does not have any connectable material that can break down. Solar panels do break down and if it has excessive dirt and debris, it will not work properly.
Why is it Important to Keep your Solar Panels Clean?
Solar panels can lose 15-25% of their efficiency if not cleaned properly and that is only the short-term effects. If dirt, grime, and moisture are trapped in the solar panels, over time, it will break down your wiring.
Additionally, if animals build nests under or around the solar panels, they could break down their efficiency over time, mess up the wiring, and scratch the panels. All of these issues could mean costly repairs and much less efficient than you anticipated.
Aren’t Solar Panels Supposed to be Self-Sufficient?
Yes. For the most part, solar panels are self-sufficient. When they are installed, the company installing them will make sure there are no low-hanging trees or potentially hazardous debris. After that, the rain is supposed to be enough to wash away most dirt and grime.
According to a study by Google, flat panels require more cleaning than angled panels. However, there are some situations where no matter what type of panels you get, you may have to clean your solar panels from time to time. If you live in an area with a lot of smog, dust, dirt, or sand, or if you live in an area that doesn’t get much rain, you want to ensure you clean your solar panels occasionally.
Clean Your Solar Panels
Even though cleaning your solar panels is likely not a chore you need to do more than once per year if you live in an area where rain is insufficient, it is important to maintain a routine.
Usually, when your solar panels are installed, you can ask your provider how often the solar panels need to be cleaned. You can also ask whether your installation provider also offers cleaning services. (Most of them do and they can be scheduled around a maintenance schedule.) Unfortunately, cleaning services can be quite costly and they generally don’t do anything that you wouldn’t do yourself, so many people opt to clean their solar panels themselves. However, if you have high roof-mounted solar panels, it is advised to get a cleaning crew, just for safety reasons.
How to Clean Solar Panels
If you are optioning to clean your solar panels yourself, you are going to make sure you take the necessary precautions:
Before you do anything, you are going to want to talk to the company or at least look through your agreement to make sure you are not voiding any warranties by cleaning your panels yourself. (If you do it correctly, you shouldn’t have a problem either way, but if something cracks or breaks, you want to make sure you are covered.)
Additionally, the company will tell you if there are any recommended products that should be used on your solar panels.
Shut down the system completely before cleaning your solar panels. Even if you are just using water, you want your system to be shut down. That way, if something gets knocked loose or water gets into the system, it will have a chance to dry before causing internal damage.
You will find the instructions on shutting down the system in your user manual.
Before adding any water or any cleaning agent, gently brush off any bulky debris and excess dirt. This might not get all the dirt off your panels but it will make the washing process easier.
Essentially the best-case scenario is if you can hose off your solar panels with just water. Often, this will do the trick, as the debris is usually not stuck on the panels, it is just laying on them.
The last thing you want to do is scratch or crack your panels. So, if you need to use something more than just water (from a hose; do not use a power washer), just use soap. It is advised by Energy Sage to use the same approach as you would when washing your car.
Tips to Clean Solar Panels
While cleaning solar panels is fairly simple, there are a few tips and tricks that make the process smoother and easier:
To close, to maintain the longevity and efficiency of your solar panels for as long as possible, it is imperative to keep them clean. Having clean solar panels is a regular part of maintenance for many people who live in areas with a lot of smog, dust, dirt, or sand and little rain. So, if you already have solar panels, get on a cleaning regimen but if you are still considering solar panels, make sure that you are willing to make the most out of your investment by keeping your solar panels clean. It isn’t a particularly difficult commitment but it is a necessary one.