So, you want to know about solar panel cleaning. You could be thinking about a bunch of things like why you need to do it, when you should do it and how it should be done. The first thing you’ll need to do is justify cleaning your solar panels… and you’ll do this by knowing why you need to do it! Depending on where you live, the ways your panels get dirty may differ, but we’ll help you with some general information about cleaning them.
Why should I clean my solar panels?
Let’s start by saying this; solar panels are generally self-cleaning. Rain will take care of most of the basic cleaning, but now and then your panels might need a decent, proper wash. Solar panels can collect dust, leaves and even bird droppings. Yes, bird droppings. When things like this collect on your panels, it can affect the amount of sunlight being absorbed, which then affects the amount of power your system generates. A little bit of dust shouldn’t be too bad, but obviously the more that it builds up over time (without rain in your area) could lead to output problems. However, leaves and bird droppings are more likely to affect your output in comparison to dust.
Now, for leaves and bird droppings. Let’s say you live in a house that has a lot of big trees around it; you’re probably going to have a lot of leaves falling or blowing on to your panels. Also, with trees comes birds. Living around trees is a double-edged sword when it comes to cleaning your solar panels; there’s no way around it. They’re one of nature’s many gifts though, so it just means you’ll need to clean your panels more regularly instead of being mad at the trees.
If this wasn’t enough to convince you, think of a solar system just like you would any other electrical appliance; it needs to be maintained so that you can make the most of it for as long as possible.
When should I clean my solar panels?
Hopefully we’ve agreed on the fact that solar panels will need to be cleaned from time to time, so we’ll now look at the best time to clean them. As we said above, rain will usually take care of most of the basic cleaning when it comes to your solar panels. So, you can avoid cleaning them in winter, for obvious reasons. It’s best to clean solar panels in the cooler months though; so anytime in Spring (September to November) or Autumn (March to May) is usually fine. This is because it’ll take longer for any cleaning products you use to dry in cooler weather, so you’ll be less likely to get additional and unnecessary residue on your panels.
You’ll only have to clean your solar panels about twice a year if you live in suburbia, providing you don’t frequently get large amounts of leaves and bird droppings on your panels. There are exceptions to this; if you’re in an area with some construction happening, you’ll likely need to clean your panels more often than this. The same goes for anyone in regional or farming areas, as you’re more likely to live around things that could dirty the panels.
How should solar panels be cleaned?
First off, you can clean your own solar panels; but unless you are experienced in safely working on rooftops, it’s in your best interests to clean them from the ground with a soft brush and squeegee long enough to reach. If neither of these options suit your circumstances, you can hire an accredited technician from the Clean Energy Council to do it for you. It helps to have an accredited technician to look over it all before you clean any panels, so it might just be easier to get it all done in one go.
If you’ve decided, ‘nope, I’m cleaning my own panels myself!’, then there are a couple of things you’ll need to do. Firstly, remember to stay on the ground unless you are a rooftop safety extraordinaire. Once a technician has looked over everything and given you the all-clear to clean, make sure your solar system is fully shut down and brush off any dust and other loose bits. Then, you can go over your panels with cool, clean water and your handy brush/squeegee multi-tool before rinsing your panels off with some more water and dry them with your squeegee.
Let’s get cleaning!
Dirty solar panels are just one thing that could be lowering the output of your system. You can check out some others here. Hopefully you’re more prepared for the whole solar panel cleaning process than you were before now! If you’ve got any questions about anything you’ve read, get in touch on social media! We’re always happy to help and have a chat to you about your solar system.