How to Clean Solar Panels

ResidentialCalendarOctober 30, 2018

Solar panels are outside in the wind and sun all day. They see dust, bird droppings, leaves and who knows what else. Obviously, you may have to clean them sometimes like you do your car or your siding.

In this article, we’ll try and help you understand how to clean your solar panels.

Solar Panel Cleaning

If you want to learn how to clean your solar panels we’re sorry to say that there is no one way.

There are many different types of solar panels and each of them works a little bit differently. In addition, different solar panels from different solar providers will have to be treated and cared for according to their respective providers. If you want specific instructions for cleaning your solar panels you’ll have to speak with a solar representative to get their recommendations.

That being said, There are still some general guidelines that work across all solar panel systems. These aren’t so much specific cleaning instructions as much as they are considerations you should take into account as you care for your solar panels.

Below we have four things to consider when you think it’s about time to clean your solar panels. We’ll go into each of them in more detail in a minute, but the four basic considerations deal with time, frequency, cost, and attitude.

Let’s now look at each of these four considerations a bit more in-depth.

Consider when you clean your solar panels

Most solar panel providers will recommend that you clean your solar panels with soap, water, and a sponge. Usually, it’s really that simple. You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to clean silicon panels.

That doesn’t mean that solar panel cleaning can be done without any forethought, however.

Think of this. Your solar panels are made of silicon and glass. They’re specifically designed to either absorb heat and turn that into energy or directly convert sunlight into energy. There are no moving parts so they just sit in the exact same position all day underneath the heat of the sun.

What does this mean?

It means your solar panels get hot.

So hot in fact, that it’s possible a sudden splash of cold water without so much as a gust of wind could damage your solar panels. It’s possible that you will not see this damage the first time you wash your solar panels, but you might notice it the fifth, sixth, or tenth time. Even if you don’t notice any visual damage for a long time, you’ll probably notice that your panels are no longer as effective as they once were. This could all be due to you throwing cold water on a hot solar panel.

Be cognizant of the fact that solar panels get hot. Don’t clean them in the afternoon. Either clean them early in the morning before the sun heats them up or in the evening after they’ve had a chance to cool down. Doing this will help reduce the risk that you’ll accidentally damage one or more of the solar cells on your solar energy system.

Consider how often you clean your solar panels

Over the years, many studies have been published which show that you probably don’t have to clean your solar panels very often. Sure there’s the occasional bird droppings or collection of wind-swept leaves that need to be cleared from your panels so they can absorb sunlight, but generally speaking, panels stay clean enough on their own.

Your solar panels will naturally collect a little bit of dust throughout the day but that’s not enough to stop them from absorbing sunlight and converting it into energy. In fact, one study from the University of California San Diego said that solar panels that hadn’t been cleaned for 145 days during a drought in California only lost about 7.4 percent of their efficiency.

When you think of the all the heat, dust, and other stuff the panels have to deal with, it’s sort of surprising that they were still so efficient.

So yes, you do have to clean your panels every once in a while, but you don’t have to do it nearly as often as most people think. A solar representative is better-able to give you suggestions or guidelines on how often you should clean your solar panels based on where you live.

Consider the cost to clean your solar panels

There are a lot of cleaning companies that are popping up selling solar panel cleaning as a service. They sign customers up for monthly cleanings and come out in big vans filled with buckets, proprietary soaps, and fancy cleaning tools.

We’ve already explained how most panels can be simply cleaned using regular soap and water. We’ve also mentioned how you rarely have to wash panels. Now that you know these two things, it’s pretty obvious that you don’t need to pay a company to come out and clean your panels regularly. At the point, you’re almost throwing your money away.

If you have a large home and some of your panels are hard to get to, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t hire some professionals to climb up onto your roof. But don’t let them trick you into thinking that they need to be on your roof every month. If they came out once or twice a year that would probably be enough.

If you can reasonably access your own solar panels without running the risk of fall off of your roof, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t just clean the panels off yourself. If you do it yourself you can get some sun, some fresh air and a little exercise.

You can also save a lot of money. 

Consider maintenance over cleanliness

Instead of worrying about whether or not your panels are clean, shift your focus to maintenance. Although solar panels can last for a long time, they do not last forever. Regular maintenance will help improve the longevity of your panels much more than frequent cleaning will.

When you’re conducting regular maintenance routines on your solar panel system make sure to get your panels checked by the service provider and look out for any physical damage. Also, if anything could possibly damage your solar panels in the future (like a nearby tree branch) anticipate that threat and fix it before the damage is already done.

Vivint Solar Provides You With Clean, Sustainable Energy

At Vivint Solar, we’re proud of our product and services. We’re proud of the fact that we’re helping people across the country find energy independence. We’ve been installing solar energy systems since 2011 and it only looks like things are going to get better.

If you want to save money on your next electricity bill or if you want to enjoy the benefits of green energy, get a quote and get your home some clean, renewable energy today.

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