How To Clean Residential Solar Panels

How to clean residential solar panels
Homeowners should perform frequent cleaning of their solar energy system to ensure optimal panel efficiency. You can clean your solar panels by yourself with simple cleaning products, or you can hire a solar panel cleaning service.

Why Do Solar Panels Need To Be Cleaned?

Homeowners should perform regular cleaning on their solar panels for several reasons. You have the option to clean your solar panels yourself using simple cleaning products or to hire a professional solar panel cleaning service.

Ensure Performance & Efficiency: Bird droppings, dust, pollution, leaves, and tree sap can all accumulate on solar panels and reduce their performance. This buildup obstructs sunlight from reaching the solar cells, leading to reduced power generation and potentially higher energy bills.

Protect The Solar Cells: Dust and airborne pollutants not only hinder energy generation but also damage the solar cells themselves. When a solar cell is covered in dirt, it acts as a resistance to the power generated by other cells, causing it to heat up and become damaged.

Extend The Lifespan Of Your System: Solar panel installation represents a significant financial investment. By maintaining your panels through regular cleaning and upkeep, you help protect your system's warranty and extend its lifespan.

How Often Should Solar Panels Be Cleaned?

In general, it's advisable to clean solar panels every six months to a year.

The exact frequency depends on your local environment and weather conditions. Areas with less rainfall may require more frequent cleaning, as rain alone is not sufficient to keep panels clean. While rain can wash away some debris, it often leaves behind dust particles, further obstructing sunlight.

Snow, on the other hand, can help clean panels when it melts, as it slides dirt off the surface.

In coastal towns and cities with high air pollution, dirty solar panels may require more frequent cleaning. In addition to visually inspecting your panels for soiling, you can monitor your solar panel system’s performance for an indication it’s time for a cleaning.

A dip in energy production or increase in your electric bill when there’s no change in the weather could indicate the panels are dirty and under-performing.

Can You Clean Your Solar Panels Yourself?

You have the choice to clean your solar panels yourself or hire professionals for the task.

Solar panel installers may also offer cleaning services for a fee. If you opt for DIY cleaning, remember to take safety precautions, as working on your roof can be risky. Using a safety harness and wearing a hard hat can help minimize the dangers.

The easiest, most cost-effective, and safest way to clean your panels yourself is to spray them from the ground with a garden hose. Avoid using a high pressure hose or a pressure washer, as this can cause scratches and permanent damage to the panels. Scratches on a solar panel cast shadows on the photovoltaic cells beneath the glass, reducing energy output.

For sticky buildup and grime, consider hiring a professional or investing in specific cleaning tools and supplies to avoid damage to the panel coatings.

How to clean residential solar panels
If you can safely access your solar panels, DIY cleaning is an option.

How To Clean Residential Solar Panels

To clean your panels yourself, you'll need a soft brush, squeegee, water hose, and a bucket filled with a soap and water solution (dish soap works well).

Here are the steps in the cleaning process:

  1. Turn off your solar panel system for safety.
  2. Rinse the panels from the ground using a hose.
  3. If you have a long squeegee, attempt to reach the panels from the ground; otherwise, use a ladder to access the roof.
  4. Use a soft cloth or brush and soapy water to gently wash the panels. You can also choose a cleaning product made for solar panels.
  5. Rinse the panels with clean water using the hose.
  6. Finally, squeegee the panels dry.
  7. Repeat these steps as needed for thorough cleaning.
How to clean residential solar panels
It's important to squeegee off the excess water to avoid a film on the panels.

Tips For Cleaning Solar Panels

  • Clean your solar panels in the early morning, early evening, or on overcast days to prevent rapid water evaporation, which can leave a film that requires additional cleaning.
  • Avoid using harsh soaps or strong detergents containing chemicals that can harm solar panel units.
  • Never stand on your solar modules, as the weight can cause damage.
  • Regular solar panel maintenance and inspection will help you determine when cleaning is necessary.
  • Consider using a specialized solar panel cleaning solution for best results.

When To Hire A Professional To Clean Your Solar Panels

Some homeowners may find it best to hire a professional for solar panel cleaning, particularly due to safety concerns. If you have a steep, slick, or tall roof or face physical limitations, hiring a company is a prudent choice. Additionally, if your solar panels have significant or stubborn buildup, professional cleaning may be more effective.

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