How To Clean A Solar Panel? Does It Make A Difference?

This picture shows the proper way to clean a solar panel.

A solar panel generally requires minimal upkeep. However, if panels are positioned with little tilt or in areas with little wind or rainfall, dust and bird droppings may gather and impact the electricity produced.

A solar unit accumulates more dust, oil, and dirt in areas near freeways, highways, factories, and airports, reducing productivity. When you clean a solar panel, you can be assured that it will function at its peak, be risk-free, and continue to supply electricity to your homes or places of business for many years. 

Solar panels are built to last 25 to 30 years and require little maintenance after installation. However, cleaning them is still necessary to maintain optimal power production and improve their efficiency.

We’ll go through how to properly clean your solar panel and the rules for solar panel maintenance.

Major Solar Blockers

Leaves on solar panels can reduce your solar energy.

The most common solar blockers are dust, leaves, and bird droppings. The main factors contributing to dust buildup are your geographical location and the surrounding elements. These factors contribute to things that might pollute your solar panels.

Some argue that heavy rain may aid in cleaning and eliminating dirt and pollutants from your panels. However, the majority of large research reveals that dust buildup reduces our system’s effectiveness. 

Leaves also deflect sunlight, thereby reducing the effectiveness of your solar panels. In addition, dirt and debris might impact the amount of sunlight that passes through to be converted to energy. However, the reduction in efficiency is rather slight.

Bird droppings also impact a panel’s performance more than dust accumulation. For example, if just one solar panel on a typical string-inverter PV system has bird droppings covering part or all of it, the system may produce little to no energy. 

In addition to dropping their leaves and branches near your panels, the trees nearby will also draw birds. Over time, this result in bird droppings and residues, which not only need cleaning and clearing but also provide a safety danger. As a result, regular gutter cleaning and bird proofing may be required.

Also read: 25 Ways To Save Electricity And Energy At Home

How to clean a solar panel at home

I. Turn off your system completely.

It is important to read the shutdown instructions outlined in your user manual provided by the inverter manufacturer.

Thus, it ensures that your system is completely and correctly shut down before cleaning. You must also turn off your DC Systems. Use the Solar Supply Main Switch to turn off any AC systems.

ii. Disconnect or block any gutters or rainfall collectors 

To ensure no dirty water runoff enters your tank, temporarily disconnect or shut off any installed rainwater tanks and attach them to your guttering system.

You need to temporarily disconnect any rainwater tanks attached to your gutters or built into your house. Doing this may prevent dirty water from entering your clean water tanks.

iii. Clean during the cool hours of the day.

Selecting the ideal time of day is crucial when cleaning solar panels on the roof. Because of the abrupt temperature swings, hot glass on the panels might break when combined with cold water.  

Thus, cleaning is best done in the early cool hours of the day. The dew that forms overnight on the panels can aid in softening the dirt, simplifying the cleaning procedure. Additionally, if the sun is shining strongly, any water you spray on the panels may dry out rapidly and produce streaks.

If it’s impossible to clean the panels in the morning, you can do it in the evening or on a cloudy day.

iv. Clean and clear the panels from the ground.

Cleaning your solar panels from the ground is advisable for safety reasons. Use a hosepipe to aim the water at the PV solar panels. Make sure the nozzle you select allows the water stream to be directed. A good nozzle would enable it to reach the solar panels.

v. Spray water onto the panels’ tops.

This is how to spray water when you are cleaning a solar panel.

Maintaining your solar panel is important to prevent harm and improve efficiency. First, ensure only to spray the tops of the panels with water. During the cleaning procedure, some water may come in contact with the PV modules’ backs; however, you must prevent it from entering the space between the panels and the roof.

vi. Use a Soft Cloth and Gentle Soap

A soft cloth is needed to clean a solar panel.

During the cleaning procedure, use a soft cloth and gentle soap if your panels have a buildup of filth and debris. Other options include a plastic blade, a good-quality soft brush, or a sponge coated in cotton to securely clean the panels from the ground by adding a lengthy extension code.

Use clean water to rinse the panels once the dirt and grime have been removed. Ensure the panels are completely dry and all soap has been removed. You can also air-dry the panels to avoid soap or water residue buildup.

vii. Climb the roof only if you have the proper safety gear.

You cannot always clean solar panels from the ground. Ensure you wear the proper safety gear if you climb the roof to clean it. Keep in mind that using water and soap makes the roof slippery.

Thus, this increases your chance of falling from the roof. It is advisable to employ an expert to handle the situation if you don’t have the necessary tools.

viii. Reattach your solar panels and switch them on.

Ensure the system is turned on at the inverter once the panels have dried properly. Also, make sure everything is operating properly.

Maintenance and Equipment for Solar Panel

It is necessary you check with the manufacturer or look at the user manual.

Rotating solar brushes and a water hose will always get the job done. You can use these tools while you are still on the ground.

To complete the task, however, sometimes climbing to the roof is essential. We also advise using a particular solar panel cleaning solution to achieve the greatest results. 

Naturally, adopting safety precautions is essential when tackling this challenging cleaning chore. Always utilize safety gear, such as a safety harness, to prevent yourself from falling to the ground. 

Things To Avoid When Cleaning a solar Panel

It’s also important to remember that some cleaning products cause more harm than good. As a result, you should avoid the following:

  • Hard water because it can cause the panels’ efficiency to be reduced.
  • Abrasive sponges should also not be used when cleaning. Abrasive sponges might cause the panels to be scratched when used.
  • The panel frame may be harmed by high-pressure water. When using a nozzle to clean the panels, keep the temperature moderate.
  • The thermal shock from frozen water can irreversibly damage the panels. So instead, use water that is about the same temperature as the solar panel.
  • Solvents and detergents may also harm the surface of the solar collector.
  • Avoid using a pressure washer to clean your solar panels because the high-water pressure may cause more damage than good.

Also read: What Are The 7 Components Of Green Building

How to determine when to clean a solar panel

The system’s decreasing efficiency is one of the signs that your solar panels need cleaning.

First, examine the modules physically. Looking at the solar panels, you can tell if you need to clear them. It’s time to have them cleaned if they have bird droppings, leaves, grime, or dust on them.

You may also observe the output from the solar panels. You may need to clean the solar panels if you notice that their output has decreased. Also, you can engage a professional to check your system if cleaning the solar panels does not resolve the issue.

The solar panel is usually dirtier during the winter. As a result of winter, the cold air traps pollutants from the ground. Since solar panels get too hot to touch in the summer, spring is the perfect season to clean them. 

The degree to which your solar panels are positioned is another aspect you should consider before cleaning. When solar panels are attached to the side of your roof, they are tilted in the same direction as your roof.

If installed on top of a flat roof, they may not be tilted far enough for rainwater to run off and clean completely. Therefore, you may need to maintain them frequently to ensure their efficiency.

Conclusion

Solar panels are an innovative solution for your energy system. Therefore, investing a few hours in their care and maintenance once or twice a year is well worth the time. It’s important to take time while cleaning solar panels.

When cleaning these panels, you may be required to do a visual examination and a rainwater bath. You can equally stay on the ground or climb using a ladder. Cleaning them when necessary guarantees their optimum performance for a long time. 

Hope you found this blog post helpful.

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