How often do you need to clean your solar panels?

Solar panels produce electricity only if the sun is shining directly on them. Any obstructions from dust, snow, or vegetation will cut into your production—or halt electricity generation altogether.

To get the most efficiency out of your solar panels and extend their life, it’s important to clean them regularly. Solar panel cleaning can be a chore, but it is well worth it if you want the benefits of solar energy. If you need to clean your Solar Panels by expert professionals, please contact us.

Why Do You Need to Clean Your Solar Panels?

Solar panels require very little regular maintenance. There are several reasons to clean your solar panels. For starters, cleaning your panels and ensuring they are kept in good working condition protects your warranty. The best brands that manufacture solar panels provide a range of warranties that guarantee you will have support and coverage in the unlikely event of an issue, such as hail or falling tree branches.  These solar panel warranties are transferable to new homeowners, which is a good reason to clean your panels should you wish to sell your home in the future.

Generally, solar panels don’t need to be cleaned. They are very durable and should last around 20-25 years with no maintenance. If you live somewhere where there is a lot of smog, dust, or dirt, you may see a dip in your production over time that can be remedied by cleaning your panels and it will result in more power generation. If your panels are mounted on your roof, however, your best option is to hire a professional cleaning service rather than try to clean them yourself. Your installer will be able to recommend someone local to help you or be able to offer their services.

Note: the main reason it is not recommended to clean panels for yourself entirely depends upon how much experience you have working upon the medium to high rooftop areas, what safety equipment you have on hand to prevent a fall, how physically fit you are and how well do you want the panels cleaned. If any of the first three previous points were answered with “no”, it is not recommended for a homeowner to not attempt to clean their own panels upon the rooftop. As you will be risking your life or severe bodily harm. Keep reading as we will go into greater detail about this.

Keeping solar panels clean can also improve their efficiency. Some manufacturers and solar panel users report a jump in efficiency of 30 percent or more after cleaning. It’s a good idea to keep track of your energy output before and after your solar panels have been cleaned. Because that alone can showcase the benefits of maintaining your energy-saving investment.

Finally, cleaning your solar cells extends their life. Solar panel cleaning is a great chance to check your panels over and make sure they are in good condition. Keeping them clean also ensures they will last as long as possible—in some cases, 25 to 30 years.

How Do You Clean Your Solar Panels?

If you do decide your solar panels need to be cleaned, there are two main ways of doing it: hire a professional or do it yourself.

There are solar companies that will clean your solar panels for you and many people opt for this because they don’t want the stress and hassle of cleaning them on their own. Not to mention it can be a risky task getting up onto your roof to deal with your solar panels.

Hiring someone to clean your panels can be pricey but remember that any solar maintenance should be conducted by trained technicians.

If you were interested in doing it yourself, you need to do:

  • Follow the instructions in your solar panel manual to completely shut off the system before attempting any sort of cleaning
  • Check the solar panel manuals directions for cleaning. If there were no instructions provided when you purchased your panels or had them installed, check online or contact the solar system installer directly. It’s important to make sure there are no special instructions or warnings missed when cleaning the solar panels to avoid damaging or chipping of the panels.
  • Keep in mind the panels might be hot, so try to clean them first thing in the morning or later at night. Cooler days tend to keep your panels cooler. However, as they are attracting the sun, this isn’t always the case.
  • Using your garden hose to spray down the panels is the safer option. In some cases, this will be enough to get them clean, but sometimes you’ll need to do a more thorough with your cleaning efforts.
  • For personally cleaning solar panels upon the rooftop. Fill a bucket with warm, soapy water or a cleaning solution designed for solar panels. Use a soft cloth or sponge and wipe them down with the soap solution and then rinse the panels with a hose. Please do note that you must have a harness and rope attached to a solid anchor point upon the roof to avoid a fatal or damaging fall.

The actual cleaning process for solar panels can be easy but the biggest challenge most people encounter is related to getting to the panels. Be sure to use extreme caution if you have a high or slanted roof. There are 3M Extendable Wash Brushes available for cleaning if you’re concerned about climbing too high on your roof.

What are the benefits of having your solar panels cleaned by a professional as opposed to cleaning them yourself?

Solar panels that were cleaned professionally had a 12% higher output of electricity compared to those cleaned by rain. Tap water and chemicals can leave a residue on your panels that can inadvertently encourage dirt to accumulate. This is one of the reasons that having your panels cleaned professionally is a good idea. Using a de-ionised water system (as Lime Solar does) to give an effective spot free finish that is more resistant to becoming dirty will also give you a better result with a longer-lasting impact. De-ionised water systems are not generally worth the investment for individual homeowners who plan to use them only for window cleaning, but a good professional cleaner will have one as a matter of course.

Another part of having a trained professional do the job is that they can check other aspects that can affect the health and performance of your system. These include potential fire safety issues, cracks, hot spots and nests from uninvited guests like birds, rats and possums, etc. Detecting issues like crazing (ie. webs of small cracks) and delamination (i.e. peeling off of laminate layer) is also essential to ensure a system running well.

How Often Should I Clean My Solar Panels?

How often you should clean your panels depends on where you live and what your panels are exposed to. It’s a good idea to check them periodically, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve cleaned them.

At the least, you should do an annual cleaning of your solar panels. You can include solar panel cleaning as part of your springtime rooftop cleaning routine.

We at Solar Man Australia recommend that panels should be cleaned and inspected at a minimum once every six months. Cleaning at regular intervals prevents the buildup of residue and keeps your panels operating optimally at all times. This tends to result in a 3 to 5% increase in inefficiency.

If you live somewhere where there is a lot of smog, dust, or dirt, you may see a dip in your production over time that can be remedied by cleaning your panels. If your panels are mounted on your roof, however, your best option is to hire a professional cleaning service rather than try to clean them yourself.

Dust, leaves, snow and ice are the common solar blockers. In addition to cleaning your panels of film and dirt buildup, you’ll want to keep an eye on your panels if they are exposed to falling leaves and debris, or if it snows. It’s a good idea to clean your panels at the end of winter if you’ve been unable to clean them due to the colder temps. This washes away snow residue and leaves from the autumn.

One of the best ways to determine if your panels need cleaning is to keep an eye on your power. If you notice a decrease in efficiency it could mean your panels are in need of a cleaning. Not keeping your panels clean will cost you money in the long run and can put the lifespan of your panels at risk. Regular checks can also prevent cracks or fire risks from developing into something worse. Clean solar panels will return to their optimal efficiency and safety.

In this article, we have discussed how to clean your solar panel to increase solar panel efficiency and save your electric bill. Solar Penrith is a solar care company in Australia that takes care of the after-sale care needs of individuals and businesses with solar panels. It makes it easy for you to give your panels a regular once-over with a thorough visual check and professional clean that can be arranged through your installer or with us directly. If you any queries about cleaning your solar panel, you can contact us.

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