Solar Panel Cleaning: Does it make sense?

Cleaning solar panels is essential for improving their efficiency. Solar panels transform sunlight into electricity, using photovoltaic (PV) cells arranged in a grid pattern on the panel surface. These panels are typically made from crystalline silicon.

Solar energy is renewable and free. It is used for a variety of purposes in homes and buildings, including lighting, heating, cooking, washing, and running multiple electrical appliances. Solar energy also helps reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, making it environmentally friendly.

Solar panels are low-maintenance, and most of the time, cleaning them with water is sufficient. However, solar panels are less efficient when covered in dust or dirt. Cleaning involves removing dirt to allow the panels to absorb sunlight. Other particles, such as bird droppings and leaves, can also block the panels from being exposed to direct sunlight.

Solar panels should be cleaned with water and a soft sponge. Some suggest using soapy water, but it can leave residues that encourage dirt to adhere to the surface. Rain often removes dust and dirt, but bird droppings or residues may remain. Using soft sponges and water helps avoid scratching the panels.

This article will teach you how to clean solar panels and the benefits they provide.

When Should You Clean Solar Panels?

Solar panels are usually installed outdoors and can become dirty depending on the environment and time. Cleaning depends on many factors, including your location, weather conditions, and exposure time. During the spring and summer, you may not need to clean your solar panels at all, while in winter, when sunlight is scarcer, you may need to clean them more often. It is reasonable to clean your panels once a month in winter because it rains less.

Check the solar panels periodically. If there is excessive dust, it is time to clean them. The best time to clean is early in the morning or late afternoon, or on a cloudy day. Midday cleaning can be problematic as the sun is directly on the panels, causing water to evaporate quickly and leaving dirt behind.

Starting early in the morning is ideal as overnight dew forms on the surface, reducing the amount of water needed for cleaning. In the afternoon, panels are more efficient, so avoid disturbing them during their most productive period. In hot weather, cleaning when the sun is directly overhead can be unpleasant.

How to Clean Your Solar Panels

As mentioned, the best way to clean solar panels is with water and a soft sponge. Some suggest adding mild soap, but do not apply water pressure to the panels as this can damage their surface. Use a sponge to remove any dirt, such as bird droppings, and then wash it with water and detergent.

Use mild detergents and avoid harsh chemicals to prevent damage. Safety is paramount; use a tool with a long handle to reach the panels from the ground.

A simple garden hose at low pressure is often all that’s needed to clean the panels, mimicking the effect of rain. If the panels are not reachable from the ground, use a ladder, and if necessary, ropes or harnesses, always considering safety measures.

Hiring a cleaning service is another option. Many companies offer this service for an agreed fee, either annually or per cleaning. Before hiring professional cleaning services, consider the return on your investment. It might not be worth spending hundreds of pounds on panels that only provide 5-10% efficiency improvement.

How Often Should You Clean Your Solar Panels?

Solar panels are low maintenance and do not need to be cleaned as frequently as you may think. Particles such as bird droppings or leaves can block the panels from receiving light, so clean them as soon as possible in such cases.

Solar panels can often clean themselves with rain. The University of California San Diego conducted a study showing that solar panels left uncleaned for 145 days lost 7.4 percent of their efficiency. Therefore, frequent cleaning is not necessary.

Generally, the panels every spring, summer, and autumn. During winter, clean them every month due to reduced sunlight.

If you notice unusual blockages due to snow, leaves, or bird droppings, clean your solar panels immediately. Various factors, such as weather, location, and pollution, can affect how often you need to clean your solar panels.

Some experts suggest cleaning the panels once or twice a year. Note the changes in energy efficiency before and after cleaning and pay attention to how the intervals between cleanings affect the output.

This post was written by a professional at EHS. Efficient Home Services of St. Petersburg FL is a solar energy company offering a variety of services. At Efficient Home Services of Florida, our mission is to save you money on your solar panel cleaning Florida. No other home energy company serving Florida offers the range of cost-saving solutions that we do. Whereas other businesses might focus on one component of a home’s energy use, such as solar panel installation or HVAC unit installation, EHS provides services across the spectrum to address every aspect of your home’s energy inefficiencies. We are a team of knowledgeable professionals who banded together to give homeowners what other companies promised but could not deliver – real relief from high electric bills.