Is it necessary to clean solar panels? If yes, when and how you should do it?
Once you’ve installed a solar panel, it doesn’t mean that your task is finished. When you own a car, you take it for servicing and maintenance. As all of you know a well-oiled and serviced car runs better, similarly when you provide the same level of attention to your solar panels their efficiency increases.
When we can keep our car windows free of grime and clear, why not keep our solar panels crystal clean? You might wonder how often one should clean solar panels? Solar panel maintenance at home- is it doable?
In this blog post, we’re going to answer all of your questions related to how to follow an effective routine of solar panel maintenance. We’ll also cover all the requirements needed to clean solar panels and how to clean them. At the same time, we’ll cover various sources of dirt and when you’ll need professionals for cleaning them.
The dust leaves and water are the frequent solar blockers:
Dust is responsible for regular problems longer than the accumulation of dirt for years. Having said that, one important factor that determines how much this can impact your solar power system is – Your Location.
Another point to be considered is that a bit of dust may not cause a big impact on solar energy because light can still pass through it. Also, the rain will clear most of the solar panel dirt. A study done by a company found that when solar panels are cleaned thoroughly solar panels become around 3.5 % more productive.
CleanTechnica has reported an analysis by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) which revealed that if solar panels are not cleaned once a month, you’ll face a possible 30% energy yield loss.
Solar panels located in dustier areas need special attention. Like solar arrays situated near farmland or near a highway are dustier and these solar arrays require more regular cleaning. Leaves also block the sunlight.
A layer of dust is not much detrimental to your solar panel than a bird dropping. Also if you’ve installed a microinverter or a string inverter along with your solar power system, then it can show where the part of solar is covered with bird droppings. Amidst these instances, the inverter won’t be able to show the current flow.
So if your solar panels are surrounded by trees, then these trees will not only shed leaves on your rooftop solar panels but also attract birds. Over the period of time, both of these will cause debris and build up, making it necessary for you to regularly clean your solar panels.
When cleaning your solar panels, it’s important to consider the angle of your solar array. A solar panel installed on a flat root needs more up keeping since when water evaporates it leaves a muddy residue behind and when solar panels are installed on an angular roof, you can take advantage of the rain which helps in cleaning them.
Several homeowners choose to clean their solar panels on their own but another best way to clean solar array is by taking the help of professional solar maintainers.
When you choose to clean your solar panels on your own, consider your safety.
Dirt is also the worst enemy of solar panels. In areas where the air is dry and dusty, in the desert, solar arrays that are installed on the flat roof also catch more dust.
Air pollution also affects solar energy production. Solar arrays near factories or local fertilizing services face build-ups.
So when is it worth contacting a professional to sort out these challenges?
When a bit of dust gets build up over a period of time, it’s not worth it to hire a professional, having said that, it’s worth it to hire a professional cleaner when solar panel cleaning becomes a hard task to do for you. So we at Vista Electrical Controls recommend you when going gets tough and when a risk is involved, seek the help of experts. They’ll make sure that your solar system is cleaned to the best possible standards.
Cleaning rooftop solar panels:
How to clean rooftop solar panels for DIY-minded homeowners? They should get material that doesn’t scratch the solar system in any way. For applying soapy water just use water and a soft sponge with mild detergent if you feel like you need it.
For pressure, cleaning use a normal hose because if the high-pressure washer is used, it can damage your solar panels. For cleaning bird droppings use a soft sponge nothing stronger than a detergent which you use for dishwashing. Don’t use strong chemicals.
For DIY cleaning of solar power system “safety” is first.
The easy way to get the job done is on the ground using a long-handled implement. But if it’s not possible then go on the roof but take precautions. Attach a rope to a safety harness so as to prevent falling to the ground. This method is mostly used by professionals.
Also wear a hard hat; it’s important otherwise it’s a fatal environment. Always keep in mind; solar panel cleaning is not worth your life!
New researches are making provision for easier upkeep of your solar panels.
- To resist soiling and dust, special coatings for glass are given.
- Robotic cleaners– remove dirt using soft brushes and air blowers and without using water at night. Uses LED and photodiode for monitoring the amount of dirt build-up on the solar array. Later on, you can decide when to clean the dirt to maximize the performance of your solar panel.
It’s recommended that you should clean your solar system twice a year. That’ll help to keep your investment in good shape and ensure that the efficiency of your solar panel increases and you can also save cost for future needs.
Safety tips for DIY cleaning:
- As mentioned earlier, the rain will clean away the dust so it won’t be worth hiring professional cleaners.
- If you’re located in a heavily polluted area or if some objects are blocking the solar panels then use a garden hose and clean the panels by keeping your feet on the ground.
- If it’s not possible to clean the panels from the ground, go up on the roof on a cool day or in the morning or at night when solar panels are not hot, wear a hard hat and safety harness and clean the complete grime and bird droppings off the solar array.
- For gently cleaning the solar panels use a soft sponge with washing up liquid. Another way is to hire professionals for cleaning the solar panels.
- Another solution to prevent you from climbing up on a ladder to inspect the solar system is to install a CCTV camera pointed towards solar panels and thus you can check for yourself when they need cleaning.