Efficiency Boost: How to Clean Solar Panels on the Roof

Cleaning dust on solar panels with an extensible window cleaner

Are you interested in learning how to clean the solar panels on your roof? This article includes all the information you need to get started. Safely.

The solar energy industry was valued at $52.5 billion in 2018, meaning that more and more people decided to invest in it. You’ve probably seen solar panels more often in the last decade, and they keep showing up on every roof. If you want solar panels on your house, it’s good to learn how to clean them unless you plan to hire someone else to do it.

Solar panel cleaning: Is it necessary?

Cleaning solar panels is necessary, especially if you live in a dry climate as it affects the solar energy system. Some people may think that rain solves all problems, but it’s not entirely true. While rain may do the trick at times, it’s best not to leave it in nature’s hands.

According to research, dust buildup can reduce the solar panels’ performance and energy output by 4.4%, and that’s after just one year of use. 4.4% may not seem like a lot, but the study was conducted where rain was present. In a dry climate, the performance can decrease by 20% due to soiling, and energy production can drop significantly.

Now, soiling doesn’t mean only dust. Bird droppings, pollutants, debris from nearby trees, and other things can build up on your solar panels. We all know that rain cannot remove bird droppings entirely, so a good scrub is necessary.

Bottom line? Learning how to clean the solar panels on your roof is a necessity for the system’s power output and maximum efficiency. Even if you live in an area with moderate rain, remember that dust is not the only thing that can build up on your solar panels. Think of it this way. Do you still wash your car after it rains?

Solar Panels: How to clean them

There is never just one way of doing something, but you’re here to read about the best way to clean the solar panels on your roof, aren’t you? In this section, you’ll read about safely achieving shiny panels for improved functionality.

There are two primary ways of cleaning your solar panels. Whichever you choose depends on the amount of buildup. If the buildup is minimal, you can clean the panels from the ground with a hose. If it’s significant, you’ll have to climb on the roof safely with a few supplies.

For now, let’s cover the first method, shall we?

How to Clean Solar Panels from the Ground

You can clean your solar panels from the ground if the dirt buildup is minimal. I’m referring to some dust and minor debris. You need to hose down the panels and let them dry in the sun. This method requires little effort and takes only a few minutes.

When hosing down the panels from the ground, don’t use a pressure washer or high-pressure jets. These can damage your solar panels. Scratches on the surface of a solar panel can lower performance. A simple garden hose is more than enough.

How to Clean Solar Panels on the Roof

When the amount of buildup on your solar panels is significant, a hose down is not enough, and you need to do some scrubbing. Things like bird droppings, sticky substances, and plant materials don’t disappear with water. You’ll need warm water, mild soap, a gentle scrubber, and a squeegee/brush. This last one is optional.

Here’s a quick guide on how to clean solar panels on the roof:

  1. In a bucket of warm water, add some mild soap. Don’t use soaps with many chemicals. They can damage your panels. It’s also known that hard soaps leave a film behind, lowering performance.
  2. Give your panels a rinse before you start scrubbing. Don’t use a high-pressure washer. A garden hose is sufficient.
  3. Use soapy water and a soft scrubber to clean the buildup. The gentle scrubber can be anything from a fine brush to a sponge. As long as it’s not capable of scratching your panels, you’re all set. 
  4. Use the hose to rinse the panels.
  5. Use the squeegee to remove any excess water. (optional)
  6. Let the panels dry out in the sun.

Cleaning solar panels on the roof is not a complicated process, but make sure to do this safely with proper safety equipment. First of all, keep in mind that solar panels can get extremely hot on sunny summer days. You want to avoid burns, so you should clean early in the morning or late evening.

Second, your roof is a few feet off the ground, so use a safety harness and a reliable ladder.

Solar panels are designed to withstand good rain or a hose down. However, when you clean your solar panels on the roof, avoid using a brush or sponge on the wiring.

To make things easier, you can use a window washing tool. Some options come with telescopic handles for better reach. Some manufacturers even provide washing mixes you can use without worrying about damage.

Leave It to the Professionals

Not everyone can clean solar panels, which is why some companies offer this service. A simple online search should help you out. Here are some reasons why people refer to a third party:

  • Your roof is too dangerous to climb on (steep, slippery)
  • You don’t have the necessary tools to get the job done, and you don’t want to buy them either
  • Your physical condition doesn’t allow you to manage jobs that require you to climb on the roof
  • You plain and simple don’t want to do it yourself

All the reasons above are valid for deciding on professional help. To make things even easier, you should call the company that installed your solar panels in the first place. They can give you a lot of information on the manufacturer’s cleaning indications. They can do the cleaning too if they offer this service.

The bottom line is that cleaning solar panels is not a complicated process. Sometimes you can do it from the ground. However, if there is a significant buildup, you’ll have to get up on the roof with the right supplies. And at times, people choose to seek professional help. Whatever the case, to improve solar energy performance is necessary to clean the dirty solar panels.

How to Clean Solar Panels on Garden Lights

Solar-powered garden lights are a fantastic way to get some night light outside your house without handling any wiring. Not to mention the impact on the environment. However, don’t forget that the panels on your garden lights need cleaning too.

In fact, garden lights solar panels get dirty faster than those on the roof. There are more debris and dust at ground level. Plus, if they’re close to a bed of flowers, they get extra dirty when it rains. 

The good news is that cleaning solar garden lights requires a simple damp cloth. Just give it a light scrub, and you’re done. You’ll have to do it more often, but it requires little effort.

Cleaning Solar Panels – Conclusion

Cleaning your solar panels is necessary to maintain their efficiency. The job itself is not complicated. You can do it yourself or leave it to the professionals. Either way, cleaning your solar panels extends their lifespan.

Solar Panels Cleaning FAQ

Q: Do solar panels need to be cleaned?
A: Solar panels need cleaning regularly. If you do not, the dust and debris on their surface can affect the panels’ efficiency.

Q: Can I clean the solar panels on the roof?
A: You can clean the solar panels yourself. However, make sure to use warm water, mild soap, and a fine brush or sponge. You don’t want to damage the panels. It would be best if you also were careful when you get on your roof.

Q: Are solar panels waterproof?
A: Yes, solar panels are waterproof. You don’t have to worry about water damage when you clean them. They are designed to withstand the elements. At the same time, do not use a pressure washer to clean the solar panels from the ground. Also, when cleaning them on the roof, don’t insist on the areas where the wires are.

Q: How to clean solar panels from the ground?
A: To clean your solar panels from the ground, you can use a garden hose. Just give them a good rinse. However, this method only works on minimal buildup. For significant buildup, the panels need a good scrub.

Q: How to clean solar panels on the roof?
A: To clean your solar panels on the roof, you need warm water, mild soap, and a soft brush or sponge. Give the panels a light scrub until the buildup is gone, rinse them with a hose, and then leave them to dry in the sun.

Q: When to wash solar panels?
A: If you use cold water to wash the solar panels, the best time to clean them is in the morning. In the afternoon, the panels may get hot, and the temperature difference may lead to the panel cracking.

Q: How often do you clean solar panels?
A: Solar panels usually do not require cleaning, but the performance of the solar panels can determine that. If the power output is lower for similar days, it may need cleaning and you should start doing solar panel maintenance and more frequent cleaning.

Q: Can you clean solar panels with tap water?
A: Tap water can be successfully used to clean the surface of solar panels as it is very smooth and can be easily washed with only water.

Q: Do I need to turn off solar panels to clean?
A: No, there is no need to turn the solar panels off as it’s completely safe to have them on.

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