Solar panels are great! They take advantage of the sun to create free energy, and you can use them to lower your energy savings. But even though they produce clean energy, it can take a lot of effort to make them stay tidy.
So, why should you keep your solar panels clean? Dust and debris can lower the efficiency of your solar panels. But it can be challenging to clean it by yourself, so you should consider hiring professionals. Still, some people doubt the benefit of cleaning them.
Do solar panels need regular cleaning? Will I damage it by cleaning it by myself? Read more to find out!
Why Should You Clean Your Solar Panels?
Leaves, bird poop and particles that are floating in the air (usually dust and pollen) all stain your solar panel investment. Stained panels affect power production — grime and debris reduce the ability of the solar array to work at full potential. Also, a solar array is composed of a lot of solar modules joined together by wires, and each solar module is also comprised of solar cells mounted in a single frame. Solar cells, in turn, are mainly made of semiconductor materials like silicon. One side of a solar cell is negative while the other positive. When the photons from sunlight hit a solar cell, it excites the electrons in the material, and this energy is the one that creates electricity. If the cells aren’t clear enough because of dirt, then less sunlight can be absorbed, and less power is generated.
The potential energy loss is based on the amount of dirt your solar panels have accumulated. Energy loss could reach 25 per cent, but some reports bring the number as high as 30 per cent for consumers who never clean their system
What Are Some Common Causes of Dirty Solar Panels?
It all depends on where your house is located for a start and what is causing it.
A bit of dust might not affect, according to tests performed by Ontario Solar Installers, as light can still pass through. They suggest that you let nature do its thing and the rain will finish most of the task of cleaning the solar panels
In another test, they found that the reduction in efficiency is minuscule – about 5 per cent or lower. Also, with a typical 5 kW system, this might be equivalent to about $20 of reduction in your energy bill.
Still, if this isn’t enough to convince you, a popular renewable energy website – CleanTechnica – reported a study done by the US NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory). It showed about 30 per cent energy yield reduction annually if panels are not
washed every month.
Leaves can also block sunlight. In an experiment carried out by Mountain View, cleaning flat solar panels “increased their energy overnight by two times” after 15 months of continuously operating. But the tests reaffirmed that rain on rooftop panels also tends to do the job.
Special attention also needs to be accorded to photovoltaic arrays situated in dustier areas if they are near farmland or next to the main roadway. These panels also accumulate far more dust and dirt to contend with and will require a more frequent clean.
Bird droppings on your panels are more damaging than a thin layer of dust. Do your solar panels come with micro-inverters or string inverter? It is an essential question as systems with micro-inverters, with an inverter attached to each panel, can show which one has been stained with droppings. It is due to the inverter halting the flow of the current.
If you have a lot of trees near your house, particularly deciduous ones, they will likely drop a lot of leaves on your panels. Aside from that, they will also attract many birds.
Another thing to consider is your solar panels’ angle. For one, flat panels will require more maintenance as water can gather and leave a filthy residue after it evaporates. On the other hand, angled panels take advantage of rain running across them to keep them clean.
Should I Get A Professional to Clean My Solar Panels?
Homeowners with smaller solar energy systems can opt to use their elbow grease as their primary cleaning method. Solar panels, much like windows, can be tidied up by using warm water and dishwashing liquid soap to remove almost all dirt or residue. When you wash each panel, you’re washing both the frame and the glass surface of the panel.
However, sweat equity has its downsides, though, as cleaning solar panels by yourself can have some risks. First, you (or the person who does the cleaning) are at risk of being injured. If you’re not comfortable walking on your roof, consider your safety before climbing up a ladder. Also, while water and soap won’t hurt your solar panels, you can still potentially damage them (this is still an electrical system, so it should come as no shock) or even your roof if you’re clueless. Some things are best left for real professionals to handle.
How Do I Maintain My Solar Panels?
Solar panels usually need little to no maintenance. They are very long-lasting and should last between 25-30 years without maintenance. Also, the only maintenance you’ll need to perform is to rinse them of dust and debris two to four times a year.
Even with this guarantee, a lot of homeowners are concerned about weather conditions causing damage to their panels or roof. Whether you live somewhere that experiences harsh winters, coastal weather systems, a heavy rain season, or heat waves – your solar panels can and can handle them all.
Keeping your panels from accumulating dust, debris, or snow is vital to ensure your panels are performing at their best. Also, there are some ways to ensure your panels are producing the maximum energy
that it was designed.
To remove dust, debris, etc., you can use
- Leaf blower
- A quick rinse with a hose
- Light rain as it can wash away panel build-up (but it doesn’t work as effectively on flat panels)
For removing a dense layer of snow, you can:
- Throw a soft football to loosen the snow (but this could result in a lost football)
- Use a l
- ong pole with a squeegee on one end
- Use a leaf blower
- Spray your solar panels with water
- If it only has a light layer of snow, it will probably slide off, cleaning it in the process (again, this doesn’t work for flat panels)
When cleaning your panels NEVER:
- Spray hot water on solar panels during a cold day
- Use rain repellant products
- Use car wax
- Rock salt
All of these can seriously damage your solar panels, roof, and electrical elements, causing more harm than good.
How Much Does It Cost to Clean Solar Panels?
Homeowners spend usually spend $150 to have their solar panel systems cleaned. But it depends on factors such as the height of your home, roof slant, and system size, and companies charge around $3 and $10 for every panel. Still, some charge a flat rate that ranges from $150-$350 excluding cleaning your whole roof. Annual inspections are typical $150 before the cost of cleaning.
Can You Use A Pressure Washer To Clean Solar Panels?
If you want to clean your solar panels yourself, you should use water, a gentle soap like a dishwashing liquid, and a soft-bristled brush to get the build-up out of the corners. Avoid harsh chemicals, abrasive scrubbers and pressure washers, which could damage your solar panels.
Can You Clean Solar Panels With Windex?
Yes, but not a lot of Windex; for safety and environmental reasons, panels are usually cleaned with deionized water. If you can work comfortably on a ladder and your roof, you can clean the panels by yourself by using a gentle soap solution.
Can Solar Panels Electrocute You?
Solar panels are sources of DC electricity generation. As such, their terminal outputs have voltage and current. Solar panels are designed to be safe and to be touched, as long as you touch the glass or the aluminium frame.
What Happens If A Solar Panel Breaks?
When the glass of a solar panel is damaged, it shatters into several small pieces, but since the tempered glass has glue on the interior, the little pieces stay in the same place. However, even though the solar cells behind are not damaged, not nearly as much light can get to them due to the distorted glass.
Do Solar Panels Work at Night?
Solar panels require sunlight to generate electricity for your home, so they do not work in darkness. Net metering and solar-plus-storage technology allow your solar panel system to access electricity overnight when solar panel production is dormant, either through connection to the electric grid or a battery.
Do Solar Panels Work When It’s Raining?
Solar panels operate more efficiently in broad daylight, but they don’t stop producing power when it is cloudy or raining. The fact is, visible light still permeates through rain and clouds. Also, sunburns can be more severe on cloudy days. It provides more evidence that solar panels work even when it’s cloudy.