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Solar Panel Cleaning: Why, How, and How Often?

Solar Panel Cleaning Why, How, and How Often

Installing solar panels helps you take advantage of the sun’s energy and make the most of the clean energy options. The panels work by collecting the rays of the sun and converting them into energy. The more light the panel is exposed to, the more energy it generates, which is why it’s important to point your panels upward toward the sun and have clean solar panels—but this means they are exposed to bird droppings, rain, dust, and debris.

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’s well worth it if you want the benefits of solar energy.

Why Do You Need to Clean Your Solar Panels?

There are several reasons you’ll want clean solar panels.

For starters, cleaning your panels and ensuring they are kept in good working condition protects your warranty. There are some solar power manufacturers that require ongoing cleaning in order to honor the warranty. Unless a homeowner can show proof of regular cleaning their warranty might be voided.

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 a cleaning. It’s a good idea to keep track of your energy output before and after a cleaning because that alone can be enough motivation to get your panels cleaned.

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, 20 to 25 years.

Won’t My Panels Be Cleaned by the Rain?

Many people assume their solar cells will be cleaned naturally when it rains. Unfortunately, much like your vehicle or house windows, this is not the case. Have you ever noticed your vehicle in the days after a rainstorm?  It might seem a little cleaner at first, but then it’s likely to have a film on it. This is especially true for the windshield. Rainwater is not clean water and the dirt it leaves behind needs to be washed off of your solar panels.

How Do I Clean My Solar Panels?

There are services 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 whatever money you invest into cleaning is made back by the energy efficiency boost you get with clean panels.

If you choose to clean them on your own, this is what you need to do:

  • Check the manufacturer’s directions for cleaning. If there were no instructions provided when you purchased your panels, check online or contact the manufacturer directly. It’s important to make sure there are no special instructions or warnings for cleaning.
  • 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.
  • Use your garden hose to spray down the panels. In some cases, this will be enough to get them clean, but sometimes you’ll need to do a more thorough cleaning.
  • Fill a bucket with warm, soapy water or cleaning solution designed for solar panels. Use a soft cloth or sponge and wipe them down with the soap solution and then rinse them with the hose.

The actual cleaning process for solar panels for easy and 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 extension rods available for cleaning if you’re concerned about climbing too high on your roof.

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 awhile since you’ve cleaned them.

At the very least you should do an annual cleaning of your panels. You can include a solar panel cleaning as part of your spring cleaning routine.

Most manufacturers recommend cleaning at least twice a year. This tends to result in a 3 to 5% increase in efficiency.

If you live in the southwestern United States, you’ll want to clean your panels more frequently. It tends to rain less here, so you won’t even get that moderate rinse of your panels every few days or weeks. It’s also a good idea to clean your panels more often if you live near a freeway, airport, or factory because your panels will be exposed to more pollution.

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. When it comes to cleaning solar panels it’s better to err on the side of safety and efficiency.

Some of our favorite solar panel cleaning supplies include:

Mr. Long Arm 1005 Window/Solar Panel Cleaning Kit

Mr. Long Arm 1005 WindowSolar Panel Cleaning Kit

One Shot 1S-SPCHEC Solar Panel Cleaner Concentrate with Hose-End Mixing Spray

One Shot 1S-SPCHEC Solar Panel Cleaner Concentrate with Hose-End Mixing Spray

Madison Electric Products SPW-640 Polywater Solar Panel Wash

Madison Electric Products SPW-640 Polywater Solar Panel Wash