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Efficiency Boost: How to Clean Solar Panels on the Roof

Cleaning dust on solar panels with an extensible window cleaner

Are you considering a transition to solar energy and wondering how to maintain the efficiency of your solar panels? Or maybe you’ve already joined the growing number of solar users around the globe, which saw the industry balloon to a worth of $52.5 billion in 2018. Regardless of where you are in your solar journey, this guide will provide you with comprehensive instructions on how to clean the solar panels on your roof. And remember, safety comes first.

Understanding Solar Panels and How Dirt Affects Them

The working principle of solar panels is simple yet ingenious. They convert sunlight into usable electricity, which powers your home. However, when dust, bird droppings, pollutants, debris from nearby trees, and other obstructions accumulate on your solar panels, they can impede this sunlight-to-energy conversion process.

Research shows that dust buildup alone can reduce a solar panel’s performance and energy output by up to 4.4% within a single year. Now imagine what would happen in a dry climate where rain, nature’s default panel cleaner, isn’t available regularly. In such cases, soiling could decrease performance by up to 20% and significantly hamper energy production. Hence, keeping your solar panels clean isn’t just about aesthetics; it’s about efficiency.

When and Why to Clean Solar Panels

Cleaning your solar panels is critical to ensuring they continue to work at optimal efficiency. A common misconception is that rainfall is sufficient for keeping the panels clean. While it helps, it isn’t the solution for all types of buildups. For example, stubborn residues like bird droppings or tree sap often require a more hands-on approach.

Therefore, maintaining the maximum efficiency and power output of your solar panel system involves regular cleaning. This means you should take up the task regardless of your area’s rainfall frequency. After all, you wouldn’t rely solely on rain to wash your car, would you?

How to clean solar panels on roofs

Safety is paramount when it comes to cleaning your solar panels, especially as the task involves heights. Always ensure you have the necessary safety equipment, such as a reliable ladder and safety harness. Also, bear in mind that solar panels can get extremely hot during sunny days, so it’s advisable to clean them early in the morning or late in the evening when temperatures are cooler.

Materials Needed for Cleaning Solar Panels

For a simple and effective cleaning process, you’ll need some warm water, mild soap (preferably one free of harsh chemicals), a gentle scrubber or a soft brush, and a squeegee or brush for optional use.

Step-by-step Guide to Cleaning Solar Panels

  1. Fill a bucket with warm water and add some mild soap. Avoid soaps laden with chemicals as they can damage your panels and leave a film behind that lowers performance.
  2. Rinse your panels with a garden hose. Avoid using high-pressure washers as they can cause scratches that might impede your panels’ performance.
  3. Apply the soapy water to your panels using a soft scrubber or brush. This tool should be gentle enough not to scratch your panels.
  4. Rinse the panels thoroughly with the hose to remove soapy water.
  5. Optionally, you can use a squeegee to remove any excess water.
  6. Allow the panels to dry naturally in the sun.

What to Avoid When Cleaning Solar Panels

While cleaning your solar panels, it’s crucial to avoid anything that might damage them. Stay clear of high-pressure washers and harsh soaps. Also, avoid scrubbing the wiring of the solar panels and never stand or put weight on the panels as it could lead to cracking.

Measuring the Effectiveness of Cleaning

Following the cleaning, you should notice a boost in energy production. You can measure this improvement by comparing the energy output before and after the cleaning process. Also, with clean solar panels, you can expect a reduction in your energy bills over time.

When to Hire Professionals

While cleaning solar panels can be a DIY task, there are situations where hiring professionals becomes the preferred option. Here are some common reasons why people refer to a third party for solar panel cleaning:

Safety Concerns

If your roof is too dangerous to climb on due to its steepness or slipperiness, it’s best to leave the cleaning to professionals who have the necessary expertise and safety equipment. They are trained to handle challenging roof conditions and ensure the job is done safely.

Lack of Proper Tools

Cleaning solar panels effectively requires the right tools and equipment. If you don’t have access to or don’t want to invest in the necessary cleaning supplies, hiring professionals who already possess the required tools is a practical solution. They come equipped with specialized cleaning equipment designed specifically for solar panels.

Physical Limitations

Some individuals may have physical conditions or limitations that prevent them from safely climbing onto the roof or performing manual labor. In such cases, it’s wise to seek professional assistance. They have the experience and physical ability to handle the task efficiently.

Personal Preference

Cleaning solar panels can be time-consuming and physically demanding, and not everyone enjoys or has the desire to do it themselves. If you prefer to avoid the hassle and would rather focus on other aspects of maintaining your solar energy system, hiring professionals is a convenient option.

Remember, all the reasons mentioned above are valid for deciding to seek professional help. If any of these situations resonate with you, it’s best to contact a reputable solar panel cleaning company. An online search can help you find local service providers in your area.

Additionally, consider reaching out to the company that installed your solar panels initially. They can provide valuable information on the manufacturer’s cleaning guidelines and may even offer cleaning services themselves. Since they are familiar with your specific solar panel system, they can ensure that the cleaning process aligns with the manufacturer’s recommendations, maximizing the system’s performance and longevity.

Final thoughts

maintaining clean solar panels is vital for maximizing their energy output. The cleaning process can be simple and safe, provided you follow the right steps and precautions. While you can do it yourself, professional services are also available to ensure your panels remain efficient and extend their lifespan.

Remember, solar energy is an investment, and like any investment, it requires proper maintenance for optimal returns. Whether you’re doing it yourself or hiring a professional, regular cleaning will ensure that your solar panels continue to provide efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly energy for your home.

Solar Panels Cleaning FAQ

Q: Do solar panels need to be cleaned?

A: Yes, solar panels require regular cleaning to maintain their efficiency. Dust, dirt, bird droppings, and other debris can accumulate on the surface of solar panels, blocking sunlight and reducing their energy output. Regular cleaning helps ensure maximum energy production.

Q: Can I clean the solar panels on the roof?

A: Yes, it is possible to clean solar panels on the roof. However, it is essential to prioritize safety when accessing the roof. Use proper safety equipment, such as a harness and reliable ladder, and take precautions to avoid damage to the panels or yourself during the cleaning process.

Q: Are solar panels waterproof?

A: Solar panels are designed to be weather-resistant and withstand various outdoor conditions, including rain and snow. They have protective coatings and seals to make them waterproof and prevent water damage. However, it is essential to avoid using high-pressure water or excessive force during cleaning to ensure the longevity of the panels.

Q: How to clean solar panels on the roof?

A: To clean solar panels on the roof, start by rinsing them with a garden hose to remove loose debris. Use a mixture of mild soap and warm water to scrub away stubborn dirt or bird droppings using a soft brush or sponge. Rinse the panels again with the hose and use a squeegee or soft cloth to remove excess water. Let the panels dry naturally.

Q: When to wash solar panels?

A: It is recommended to clean solar panels when they show signs of dirt buildup or reduced performance. Factors such as local weather conditions, nearby trees, and air pollution levels can affect how often you need to clean the panels. Additionally, if you live in an area with prolonged dry spells or heavy pollution, more frequent cleaning may be necessary.

Q: How often do you clean solar panels?

A: As a general guideline, cleaning solar panels every six months is recommended. However, the frequency may vary depending on the local climate, surrounding environment, and specific conditions. For example, areas with heavy dust, bird activity, or industrial pollution may require more frequent cleaning.

Q: Can you clean solar panels with tap water?

A: Yes, you can clean solar panels with tap water. However, using deionized or distilled water is preferable as it reduces the chances of leaving mineral deposits or residue on the panels’ surface. If tap water is used, ensure that it is not hard water, as it may leave mineral deposits behind.

Q: Do I need to turn off solar panels to clean?

A: Yes, it is crucial to turn off solar panels before cleaning them. Solar panels generate electricity and pose a potential electrical hazard when active. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to safely turn off the electrical currents produced by the panels and ensure your safety during the cleaning process.

Last Updated on May 23, 2023

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