Do you know how to clean solar panels efficiently? With maintenance and regular cleaning you could be receiving even more benefits from your solar panels.
How to clean solar panels? 5 best ways
Why do you need to clean solar panels?
Do solar panels need cleaning? The simple answer is yes. When solar panels become dirty you will find that your power output is reduced as some of the sunlight is blocked and less energy is converted.
While a little dirt and debris won’t stop your solar panels from working, you won’t be able to receive the full benefits from your solar panels if they need to be cleaned. Letting dirt build up on your solar panels can also cause long-term damage. Even something as common as bird droppings can corrode your panels and leave permanent stains.
Ensure that you protect your investment and take care of your solar panels so you can enjoy their benefits for years to come. Luckily cleaning your solar panels is easy and there are only a few simple steps you need to follow.
How often should you clean solar panels?
If you are wondering how often you should clean solar panels, a good rule of thumb is every six months. The Australian climate is harsh and solar panels can easily be covered in a build up of dust, pollen, leaves, bird droppings and more. Cleaning your solar panels once during autumn and once during spring helps to maintain your solar system and prevent debris from building up and causing damage.
If you have overhanging trees near your panels or experience extreme weather, you will need to clean your solar panels more regularly. It is also recommended that every two years you get your solar panel system professionally cleaned and serviced by a licensed professional. This allows your solar panels the best chance to operate at peak performance and last for years to come. A professional will also be able to detect any defects and visually inspect your solar panels.
How location affects solar panel cleaning?
Your location will affect how often you need to schedule your solar panel cleaning. If you are in a polluted area with heavy smog or smoke, your solar panels will need to be cleaned regularly to remove pollutants. Likewise if you are in an area with heavy vegetation, bushland or farming, you will find a build up of sap, leaves, pollen, and branches, all of which can hinder your solar panel performance. Before you add your next solar panel cleaning reminder to your calendar, consider your environmental factors and position of your panels on your roof. You might find that you need to be cleaning more regularly.
Benefits of cleaning solar panels
There are numerous solar energy advantages and disadvantages but you will find that with a little maintenance and care, your solar panels will last for years to come. From reducing your reliance on the grid to saving money on your electricity bills, having clean solar panels will reward you tenfold.
Some of the main benefits you will find include:
Efficiency of panels can be improved
Removing dirt and debris can vastly improve your efficiency and performance. Without checking your solar panels regularly it’s easy to miss bird droppings, dead insects, leaves, branches, or even your next door neighbour’s frisbee blocking your solar panels from the sun.
Even air carried pollutants such as smog, sea air, pollen and dust can cover your solar panels and leave a film behind. With a thorough clean, you can ensure that your solar panels have maximum access to sunlight so you can produce the energy you need and boost your efficiency.
Leaving harmful substances on your solar panels can reduce the lifespan of your system and cause long-term damage. If you leave debris and corrosive substances on your solar panels for an extended period, you can ruin the protective layer on your solar panels and expose the internal mechanisms of your solar panel system. If this seal is broken, your solar panels can be at risk of water damage and cost hundreds or even thousands in repairs. With a regular clean you easily avoid unplanned repairs and fees. Increase the durability of your solar panels with regular cleaning and maintenance for the best results.
Rainwater does not provide the best results
Even if you are in an area with regular rainfall and your panels are installed at the perfect tilt, you will still find they need a seasonal clean. Rain will help wash away droppings, dust and debris, but without a good thorough clean, you will still find that stains and pollutants still cling to your solar panels with determination.
Ways of cleaning solar panels
Cleaning your solar panels can help ensure that you are getting the most out of your investment and reaching peak energy production. However, there are several methods of cleaning solar panels that are effective to choose from. To find out which method is best suited to your solar panels, it will depend on how dirty they are and what environmental substances you are affected by.
Here are the best methods for how to clean solar panels on your roof:
One of the most used cleaning methods for how to clean roof solar panels is with water and a very mild soap. First use a hose to wet your solar panels, but try not to pour water down the back of the panels. Then you can use a sponge and some soapy water to wipe away dirt, pollen, bird droppings, or any stubborn substances on your solar system.
You can use an extension pole with a sponge and squeegee so you don’t have to climb on your roof. Note that if you are cleaning your solar panels on your roof, always use safety equipment and beware of slippery surfaces as you clean.
Soft cloth and soap-less brushes
You can find special solar panel cleaning brushes that are designed to scrub off dirt and stains without causing damage. You can use a soft cloth to wipe away the layers of dust, pollen or debris and then use a solar panel brush to clean off any more stubborn stains or marks. You should never use a wire or steel brush on your solar panels. Always err on the side of caution when it comes to the tools you use on the surface of your solar panels.
Using a high-quality cleaning utensil
Another method for how to clean roof solar panels is with special solar cleaning equipment. You can purchase solar cleaning equipment such as hoses, washers, brushes, water softeners, and even products to ionise water to better help with removing dirt and is gentler on your solar panels. You should never use high pressure washers on your solar panels however, as you can cause damage. If you are uncertain about what tools you can and can’t use, always refer to a professional for help.
Avoid harsh chemical soaps
You should never use harmful chemicals like bleach or abrasive cleaners as they can damage your solar panels. Even using strong soaps can leave a film over your solar panels and affect their performance during the day. Instead it is recommended that you use a very mild soap in small amounts with water. If you have a pesky stain that needs some more assistance to remove it, you can dilute white vinegar with water. The acetic acid of vinegar is ideal to clean with as it won't cause damage to the panels but is highly effective in removing dirt and marks from your solar panels.
Safety tips for cleaning solar panels
While there are some risks of solar panels, there are methods you can use to keep safe.
Before you start cleaning your solar panels there are some important steps you should consider:
- Always shut down your solar system before you start your cleaning process. If you don't know how to shut down your system, refer to your manufacturer's manual. Leaving your system on can put both you and your solar panels at risk and lead to accidents and long term damage.
- If you are working on a ladder, always climb up and down while facing the ladder with three constant points of contact at all times. Never carry anything while you are climbing up or down and only ever allow one person to use the ladder at a time.
- Beware of slippery surfaces if you are working on your roof. Cleaning solar panels can create a lot of soap and water run off so be wary of moving around on your roof and always wear shoes with deep tread patterns.
To protect your solar investment, you should always regularly clean your solar panels. With regular cleaning you can boost your energy efficiency, increase durability and ensure your solar panels last for years to come.
When cleaning, always practise safe methods when turning your solar panels off or when cleaning from heights. If you have any questions about how to clean your solar panels please contact our team.
For solar panels in Brisbane, Cairns, Wide Bay or the Sunshine Coast, there is only one name you need to know. Hush Energy is one of the leading solar companies in Queensland, call us today for professional and friendly advice and service.
Yes. You can use a hose to clean off your solar panels, however you should never use high pressure equipment. When hosing, always ensure that you have first turned off your solar system.
Yes the rain can clean your solar panels. If your solar panels are installed at a tilt, chances are that rain will help wash away debris and dirt. However, you will notice that the rain doesn't wash away all stains. More stubborn stains like bird droppings will require cleaning.
You should clean your solar panels either in the early morning or late afternoon. If you clean your solar panels in the middle of the day, the sun can dry up your soap and water before you have finished cleaning and can leave a film behind. To receive the best results, clean when your solar panels are out of direct sunlight.
Yes, dirty solar panels will still work, but you will find that your performance is slightly lowered. If your solar panels are covered in dirt or debris, they can block the sunlight and therefore you will have less energy produced. Leaving dirt in your solar panels for long periods of time can also damage your panels and corrode the water sealed protective layer of your solar panels.