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Cleaning Your Solar Panels: Everything You Need to Know to Optimize Savings

cleaning your solar panels

If you have a residential solar system, cleaning your solar panels likely isn’t something you do often, if ever. And this makes sense. Solar panels do not have virtually any moving parts, which means the thought of performing maintenance usually slips through the cracks. That said, practically the only thing you should do as far as maintenance is concerned is cleaning your solar panels. While typically a very simple, easy thing to do, for whatever reason, too few homeowners actually clean their panels. 

Our team of solar experts broke down what you should know about cleaning your solar panels to optimize their performance and your savings! 

How Often Should You Be Cleaning Your Solar Panels?

Luckily, you really don’t need to clean your panels all that often. However, a few factors come into play when determining the frequency you specifically need to be cleaning your solar panels. If nothing else, we always recommend giving your panels a good rinse and light scrub once every 6 months. This helps knock off settled dirt and debri and increases your system’s efficiency. 

In fact, dirty solar panels can contribute to a loss in productivity and affect your overall energy savings. In most cases, the loss of power isn’t significant — maybe 1 to 4.7 percent. But one study found that long-term dirt buildup can reduce a solar panel’s electricity production by as much as 25 percent.

Reducing your solar array’s efficiency 25 percent can result in a massive loss in savings, making you responsible for higher electricity bills. Remember, you will only save as much money as power you produce with your panels. This is the same reason why your solar installer made sure to aim your panels south and installed them in an area with as much sunlight as possible. 

Remember, you want your panels to have the least amount of obstruction as possible. And, the dirt, dust and debris that accumulates on your panels acts as a type of blanket-like obstruction. 

Keep reading to learn how you can clean your solar panels; however, when in doubt, contact a team of professionals to come in and clean your panels.

Cleaning Your Solar Panels: How To

Cleaning your solar panels should be easy. Check out this easy-to-follow step-by-step guide on what you should do to ensure clean solar panels! 

  1. The first thing you want to do is to check with your solar panel manufacturer, as they may have specific recommendations for cleaning.
  2. Aim at cleaning your solar panels either in the morning/afternoon or on a cool day. The solar modules themselves can heat up to dangerous temperatures. 
  3. Try just using a hose first. Typically, we find that water alone can handle the job most of the time. However, if a lot of dust and dirt has accumulated, you might need to give them a more thorough clean.
  4. If the hose didn’t do the job, then fill a bucket or spray bottle with warm water and soap. There is no need to purchase any gimmicky chemicals or special detergents.
  5. Clean the surface of the solar panel with a soft cloth or sponge. Only and gently wipe down the surface of your panels. 
  6. Show extra caution if cleaning your solar panels requires you to climb up on the roof. Consider getting professional solar panel cleaners to do the job if you’re not sure you can perform the task safely. 

What Not To Do When Cleaning Your Solar Panels

While cleaning your solar panels should never pose much of a problem, there are a couple of key things you should avoid in order to ensure no damage is done to your array and or to yourself. 

  • As a general rule, stay on the ground. Nobody should get up on your roof without a secure ladder and proper fall protection equipment. We highly recommend hiring a professional if there’s a need to go on the roof for panel cleaning.
  • Avoid using hard or mineral-rich water. It may damage panels over time. If your area only has hard tap water, you can buy an inexpensive water-softening hose attachment to filter out minerals. Otherwise, you can use distilled or deionized water.
  • While not recommended, if using a high-pressure water nozzle, do not get close to the panels. While panels are extremely durable, you do not want to risk any potential damage.
  • Avoid the use of abrasive brushes, pads or powders. Instead, choose soft-bristle brushes, towels, and squeegees if necessary. Many customers have seen success in lightweight, inexpensive microfiber brushes and towels. 

Cleaning Your Solar Panels: Recap

If we had to summarize everything we just went over, we would say 2 things:

  1. You need to be cleaning your solar panels at least twice a year in order to optimize efficiency and, in turn, your savings. 
  2. If you don’t know how or feel comfortable cleaning your solar panels, contact solar experts like us to professionally clean your panels!

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