Solar panels lose efficiency over a long time. It is therefore to clean your solar panels regularly to increase their efficiency. Keep reading this guide to learn how you can clean your solar panels.
Why is solar panel cleaning important?
Dust particles, raindrops, birds droppings and other form of dirt can reduce the efficiency of a solar panel. To prevent this from happening, it is recommended you clean your solar panel at least twice every year.
Cleaning a solar panel increases the life span of the solar panel and ensure maximum sunlight absorption. Therefore, if you come from dusty areas or places with a lot of trees, cleaning your solar panels is essential.
This guide will give you all the details on how you should clean your solar panels to prevent damages and increase efficiency. Don’t go anywhere.
Is solar panel cleaning necessary?
Solar panels are responsible for collecting sunlight energy from the sun. The efficiency of the solar panels reduce if it is covered by dust or leaves. So, it is advisable to clean your solar panels regularly.
A lot of people assume the existence of solar panels once they install them. This is dangerous because if your solar panel is covered with dust or leaves, it might not absorb any energy from the sun. As a result, your solar battery might be over drained and become defective.
How often should solar panel cleaning be done?
The number of times you clean your solar panels depends on where you live.
For example, if you come from areas with a lot of trees, the leaves might cover the solar panel blocking sunlight from reaching the panel. In that case, regularly check the solar panels for leaves. You check the solar panels after every one month and remove the leaves.
Solar panels also accumulate dust particles over time. You should therefore check your solar panels regularly and see if the dust is inhibiting the functioning of the solar panels. You can wipe your solar panels if it is covered by dust. However, a deep clean is recommended after every 6 months.
When should solar panel cleaning be done?
It is recommended you clean your solar panel in the evening or early in the morning before the sun is too hot. Preferably, during the cooler months. This prevents any further sun damage when cleaning. It also prevents the cleaning agents drying before cleaning is finished. The spots left when the cleaning agents dry faster will also create a barrier between the photovoltaic cells and the sun.
How do we clean solar panels?
How do we clean solar panels?
Before you think of cleaning your solar panels, remember not to use water and soap. This method might create some film even damaging your solar panel even further.
There are a few new methods that are efficient and available to most people.
Different companies are using robotic technology to create fully automated or semi-automated robots for cleaning solar panels. This panels are mostly used in large scale solar cleaning like that of commercial buildings.
The robots are installed on the solar panels to clean automatically. Use of robotics rely on airflow to clean solar panels since water and high pressure can damage the solar panels.
- Vibrating solar panels
Instead of washing solar panels, a new technology where the solar panels vibrate and get rid of all dust particles have been in place for a while. This new technology which was developed by Heriot- Watts university works by a motor being attached at the back of the solar panel. The motor can be turned on an off to induce a vibration.
- Nanoparticles coating
Nanoparticles coating is a new technology where the solar panels are coated with a dust repellent coating. This is usually ideal in areas with high temperatures and humidity. These two factors can affect the efficiency of the solar panels.
- Manual cleaning
If you have smaller solar panels, you do not have to use the above mentioned methods. They are expensive and ideal for commercial buildings with many solar panels.
You can therefore clean your solar panels using water, cleaning liquid and sponges or brushes.
When using this method do not;
- Use soap: Soap might create a film which might affect the efficiency of solar panels.
- Do not clean when the sun is hot: The sun will dry the cleaning detergents before you are done cleaning. This also creates a film that will create a barrier for sunlight absorption.
- High pressure water: Spraying water at high pressure will definitely cause damage to your solar panel. Water might sip in and damage internal parts of the solar panels.
- Do not use rough scrubbing material. Do not use rough materials and do not exact pressure. This might end up damaging the solar panels.
Instead what you should do is;
- Use an approved cleaning detergent.
- Use a soft microfiber cloth.
- Clean the solar panel In the evening or early in the morning.
If you find cleaning your solar panels is such a huge hustle, you can employ a solar maintenance company to do the job for you.
Should we hire someone for solar panel cleaning?
Solar panels are delicate devices that needs to be cleaned with a lot of care. The internal parts of the solar panels such as solar sensor might get damaged if the water sips in the solar panels. You might also scrub the solar panels with a lot of force which will end up damaging the solar panels even more.
It is important to hire a solar maintenance company to clean your solar panels. Although Hiring a cleaning company is the most effective way, there are some disadvantages and advantages of doing so. Some of this disadvantages and advantages are as discussed below.
- Solar maintenance company will use the right equipment to clean your solar panels.
- They have the expertise to clean solar panels therefore, there is low risk or damages.
- The cleaning company can tell you if your solar panel need to be replaced.
- It saves you the energy of having to clean the solar panels by yourself.
- Hiring a cleaning company is expensive.
How much does it cost for solar panel cleaning?
Generally, it costs about $10-$30 dollars to hire a company to clean your solar panels. This however depends on the size of your solar panels. If your solar panels have covered a large surface area, be assured to pay more.
Solar panel cleaning equipment
What are the essential equipment for solar panel cleaning?
Solar panel cleaning is an easy process. However, not all equipment can be used to clean solar panels. I will therefore give you a list of equipment you should use when cleaning solar panels.
- A ladder
- A specific solar cleaning brush
- A handheld wiper or a microfiber cloth
- Mild soap or cleaning agent.
You can clean your solar panels to perfection with the equipment mentioned above.
DIY solar panel cleaning kit
Whether you are cleaning your solar panels by yourself or hiring a solar maintenance company, there are some equipment that you cannot skip. If you decide to clean the solar panels by yourself and you do not have any equipment, you can find some of your home stuff and use to clean your solar panels.
Some of this home equipment include;
- Safety gear: You might be forced to climb up to clean your solar panels. For this matter, you need to be well geared. A ladder and a harness are some of the equipment you need if you are climbing up to clean your solar panels.
- Mild soap: Soap can damage your solar panels. So, if you can’t find a specific solar cleaning agent, use only water and a cloth.
- Microfiber cloth: Scratched solar panels have reduced efficiency. You should therefore use a soft microfiber cloth to clean the dust of solar panels.
- Garden hose: You will definitely need water to clean your panels. A garden hose can be an effective way of pumping water from the tap to where the solar panels are located.
After gathering all the equipment, you can use this guide to clean your solar panels.
Can I use dish wash for solar panel cleaning?
It is not advisable to use any form of soap to clean solar panels. Most dish wash are strong since they deal with greased utensils.
You might end up damaging your solar panels when you clean them using a dish wash. Use water only if you can’t find the right type of cleaning detergent for your solar panels.
What kind of a brush can I use for solar panel cleaning?
When shopping for a brush to clean your solar panels, ensure they have some soft bristles. Hard bristled brush will scratch your solar panels making them loose their efficiency.
Buy a brush with a pole of you have many solar panels. It is against all the rules to step on solar panels when cleaning.
Solar panel cleaning brush and pole
Solar panel cleaning brush and pole is a specific type of brush that is designed to clean solar panels. It is mostly used where a large surface of your roof is occupied by solar panels. You cannot step on the solar panels when cleaning them since they are very delicate and prone to crack.
The pole is adjustable therefore you can extend it to a few more meters to reach all corners of the solar panels.
Solar panel cleaning rotating brush.
Solar panel cleaning rotating brush is soft bristled brush that can be attached to a pole. The rotating brush moves in circular to get rid of all debris and dust on the solar panels.
Where to buy solar panel cleaning equipment?
You can get solar panel cleaning equipment in a hardware store near you. Alternatively, you can buy from different companies that manufacture solar panels.
The equipment can also be bought in most online retail stores like Amazon and Alibaba.
Solar panels lose their efficiency after a while. It is advisable to always clean your solar panels to help maintain the efficiency of solar panels.
Solar panels are delicate and they should be handled with care. To prevent damaging your solar panels when cleaning, use specific equipment made for solar panels only. You can use a soft microfiber cloth and a solar panel cleaning liquid to clean your solar panels. This can be used manually and in case of small solar panels.
If you have a large commercial building that uses a lot of solar panels, you can take advantage of the latest solar panel technology such as use of Robotics, nanoparticles and vibrating solar panels technology. These methods are automated therefore, you don’t need to worry about dirty solar panels.
In cases where this technology is not applicable and you are not in a position to clean your solar panels by your own, hire a well known solar panel cleaning company. They will assess your solar panels and clean your solar panels to perfection. They will also advise you based on several factors when you should clean your solar panels next.
Eng. Matthew Joseph Nandirio is the Founder of walkingsolar.
After graduating from the University of Houston in 2002, matt started working as a Solar Electrical Engineer for several multi-national solar energy companies.
He has a wide range of experiences including solar system requirement analysis, planning, maintaining, debugging and even solar device development through research.
He now shares his 20 years of expertise through his articles on the walkingsolar website.
Further, he is also the author of two books on Solar Technology, “Solar Power for Villages” and “DIY Solar System for Dummies”.