While a solar energy system is generally a “set it and forget it” system that allows you to passively produce renewable energy for your home, you may need to freshen up your panels occasionally. While it’s not absolutely necessary to clean solar panels, you may be losing out on value and efficiency by not doing so. In this article, we’ll provide answers to some common questions solar panel system owners have about solar panel maintenance and how to perform it safely.
- Solar panels don’t typically require regular cleaning, but depending on where you live it can help maximize your panel efficiency.
- You can clean your solar panels yourself, and there are also professional cleaning services you can hire to clean your panels.
- Solar panels do not require any special cleaning equipment and can be cleaned with a garden hose, rag, and dish soap.
- Use the EnergySage Marketplace to connect with installers and get a quote for your own home solar system.
What’s in this article?
- Do I have to clean my solar panels?
- Can I clean my solar panels myself?
- How to clean solar panels
- What should you use to clean your solar panels?
- How often should you clean solar panels?
- Frequently asked questions about solar panel cleaning
Do I have to clean my solar panels?
Your solar panels need to be exposed to sunlight in order to produce power. However, unless you live somewhere with high amounts of smog, dust, dirt, or sand blowing around, solar panel cleaning is generally not necessary. In most cases, occasional rain will be enough to naturally and safely keep your solar panels clean and free of debris that could lower production. But a good clean every once in a while can help to maximize your panel’s photovoltaic (PV) production. So if you need or want to clean your solar panels, we’re here to help you determine the best way to do it!
Can I clean my solar panels myself?
Just like washing your car, you can definitely DIY solar panel upkeep, but there are also professional solar panel cleaning services to make it easier. In fact, for a small fee, your solar installer may even do it for you! If you have a rooftop system, it might be a good idea to enlist a cleaning service, if only for safety reasons. A solar panel cleaning company may not do a significantly different or better job than you can do yourself, but they are better equipped to safely clean and maintain rooftop units. For ground mount units, it may not be worth the service fee when you can safely and effectively clean your own panels with a water hose, some dish soap, and a soft rag.
Types of of professional cleaning
There are many different types of professional cleaning companies that can help you. Robotics companies use semi-autonomous machines to clean without as much direct personal work involved. Some maintenance companies also use soapless brushes and sponges to clean panels to avoid potentially harmful residues. Other high-tech cleaning options are in development including waterless vibration and nanoparticle coatings.
Does your solar lease cover panel maintenance?
If your panels are leased, solar lease agreements will often include a maintenance clause of some sort. Some companies will perform regular maintenance on their panels, including washing services, while others will just repair damages the customer reports. It’s important to remember that solar panels generally require little maintenance, and simply spraying your panels down with a hose occasionally can do the trick.
How to clean solar panels
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to clean your solar panels:
- Shut off your solar panel system – this will help ensure your safety and that equipment is not damaged.
- Use a soft brush to clean the surface of your dirty solar panels to remove any debris like dirt and dust.
- When cleaning your panels with water, be sure to use a standard garden hose and soapy water. There’s no special cleaning solution you need to purchase to clean your panels, just regular dish soap will work perfectly. You should avoid using a high-pressure hose that you might use to do things like power washing your house, as they have the ability to create cracks or otherwise damage your system.
- After you have finished the cleaning process, monitor output to see the difference in efficiency that cleaning has made!
What should you use to clean your solar panels?
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 panel’s energy production. It’s best to approach panel cleaning the same way you might clean your car. Dish soap and clean 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’s essential that you avoid using strong cleaning detergents, as these can streak and damage the glass and impact panel efficiency.
How often should you clean solar panels?
The frequency of solar panel cleaning depends primarily on where you live:
- In desert climates including the U.S. southwest, more regular cleaning is needed due to the large amount of dust and sand that could affect a solar energy system’s output.
- Solar panels in polluted areas near highways, factories and airports should also be cleaned more frequently to avoid residue buildup from pollutants that could result from heavy machinery nearby.
- In heavily wooded areas, solar panels should be frequently cleaned to prevent obstructions as a result of overgrown vegetation and bird droppings.
Should you remove snow from your solar panels?
In the winter, snow on solar panels generally doesn’t 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 for homeowners to safely remove snow covering on solar panels. It’s important that you don’t 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 solar power production.
Frequently asked questions about solar panel cleaning
Dish soap and a soft sponge or rag are the best thing to clean solar panels with.
Yes, you can clean solar panels yourself by filling a bucket with water and using dish soap and a low pressure hose.
Keeping your solar panels clean will not automatically void your warranty, but be sure to avoid using harsh chemicals and pressure washers or other water fed poles that could potentially crack or otherwise damage your panels. Improper cleaning practices do have the potential to void your warranty, so be sure to read the details before you jump into cleaning yourself.
Windex is a cheap and widely available cleaner that is excellent for cleaning glass surfaces such as those on a solar panel to make sure they are running at maximum efficiency.
While they may be good for cleaning other parts of your home, a pressure washer should never be used on solar panels to avoid damaging them and creating cracks.
A professional cleaner may charge between $150 and $300 to clean solar panels. This varies widely on the type of panel, the degree of cleanliness and how many panels you have. Costs range from $15-$30 per panel.
While debris being cleaned off naturally by rain will help, making a concerted effort to clean your panels will lead to increased solar panel performance.
It is recommended that you clean your solar panels every six months to a year in order to maximize the efficiency of your solar panels.
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