Do Solar Panels Need Cleaning? A Detailed Guide

Solar Installation

Nowadays, it seems like everyone is trying to reduce their environmental footprint. This generation is the first one to be able to understand what the effects of climate change are and how they can change the future for themselves and generations to come by using environmentally friendly practices. Solar panels have become popular as a way of reducing your carbon footprint since they provide clean energy without any emissions. However, solar panels do need cleaning if they are dirty and will affect their efficiency if not cleaned or left dirty for too long. Just like any other surface in your home, solar panels can collect dust and debris which should be removed periodically.

What is the best way to clean solar panels?

While there are a variety of ways and products you can use to clean your panels, one of the most effective is to use plain old water. Avoid using soap or chemicals since they can damage your panels. When cleaning with water, make sure to wet the surface completely. You need at least two gallons for each panel in order to saturate it. However, avoid pouring the water from a great height in order to prevent water droplets from being flung about and damaging your panels. After the panels are wet, you need to wipe them down with a clean cloth or use an old toothbrush. The panels should be completely dry before using them again otherwise they will short circuit or cause other problems. Use a fan if necessary to help speed up the drying process.

It is never recommended to start cleaning the panels when they are wet or even damp. If your panels get wet, you will have to wait until it is completely dry before trying to use them again. While you can safely clean your solar panels with a little bit of water, this does not mean that there aren’t any other hazards out there for you.

How often should I clean my solar panel?

While there is no set time frame in which you should clean your solar panels, it is best to test the efficiency of your solar panel and check for dirt on a regular basis. If your panels are dirty enough that they affect their performance, then it is time to clean them off. The average home will only require cleaning every 6-8 months. However, if you are living in a highly polluted area such as near industry or pollution from cars is particularly bad, then it is recommended that the panels be cleaned every 3-4 months. For those who live near saltwater or have to deal with high humidity, cleaning may be required more often than others since these elements will cause corrosion on your panels.

What are some of the benefits of cleaning my solar panels?

While there are some risks associated with cleaning, the benefits far outweigh them. Since you will be able to use your solar panels for a longer period of time with more efficiency, you can save money in the long run by preserving them. Also, if your panels have to be replaced because they cannot produce energy anymore or are no longer efficient enough to produce useable power, you can save money by keeping them functional longer. The actual cost of cleaning can vary greatly depending on the type of product used and how many panels you have. Some products are more expensive than others but maybe worth it for various reasons such as non-toxicity, biodegradability, or even effectiveness. There is no right or wrong thing to use when cleaning your panels. It is up to you to decide what will work best in your situation.

What cleaning products should I avoid using?

While there are many good and effective ways to clean your solar panels, you should never use certain cleaning products. Avoid using any type of acid or bleach since they will damage your panels. Another thing to avoid is abrasive materials such as steel wool, soft/hard brushes with scrubs, or wire wool. If you use a stiff brush with bristles to clean your panels, the bristles will scratch the surface which can potentially damage them. The only other thing you should avoid is using hoses or pressure washers since they spray water from a higher source and can cause damage as well. If you have any questions about your particular model, it is best to contact the manufacturer before cleaning them.

Solar panel cleaning methods

There are many different ways to clean your solar panels, but the method you choose will depend on what works best for your situation.

If you are looking for an incredibly cheap and easy way to clean your solar panels, then a simple garden hose with a spray nozzle or sprinkler may be able to do the job. While using water pressure can cause water to shoot off the surface of your panels, it is not the best method. However, if you want to simply flush them down with water and do not need to be incredibly thorough in your cleaning process then this may work for you. Apply enough pressure so that any dirt or debris can be flushed away from the surface and let it rain directly on the panels. If you have many panels to wash, this can help save some time and work.

If you are looking for a slightly more complex method that involves using soap or chemicals in your cleaning solution but does not want to spend a great deal of money on an expensive specialty product, then look into purchasing a car-wash shampoo with no phosphates. These types of shampoos tend to be very inexpensive and are specifically formulated for cars so they will work well on solar panels as well.  

If you want a thorough cleaning that takes up a lot of your time but is reasonably priced, then consider professional services. Typically you can find a local provider who will come out, assess your panels, and then determine how to clean them. Solar panel cleaning services may sound expensive at first, but it is worth it if you get more efficiency out of your panels by having a professional clean them for you.

Before paying for the service, make sure they are using an all-green or organic cleaning product that will not harm your solar panels.

If you want the best overall cleaning, then renting a pressure washer may be in your future. For professional solar panel cleaners, using this equipment is what gets the job done in the quickest amount of time while still preserving their functionality. Since there are so many different types, models, and sizes out there, it is worth looking into renting a pressure washer to get a better idea of how well it will work for you.

If you decide to use this method, then make sure the wand tip is producing a fine enough spray since using anything too wide or hard can cause damage to your panels. Also, be certain that water is not spraying directly at the panel surface but rather at a 10 to 20-degree angle.

Tips for keeping your solar panels clean and in good condition

If you want to make sure your solar panels are in the best condition possible for years to come, then using these tips will help you out.

Never leave any of your solar panels outside and exposed to rain or snow for days at a time. This causes water to be trapped and eventually leak inside them which can cause rust, corrosion, and other materials to erode away faster than they should. If you are going to be away from home for more than a week, make sure to bring them inside so they do not sit out in the elements.

If you are concerned about how dirty your panels may get, then it is best to either buy some type of specialty cleaner or to rent a pressure washer to clean them on an annual basis.

If you decide to use a pressure washer to wash your panels, then make sure the wand tip is producing a fine enough spray since using anything too wide or hard can cause damage to your panels. Also, be certain that water is not spraying directly at the panel surface but rather at a 10 to 20-degree angle.

If you want your solar panels to last as long as possible for the lowest cost, then using these tips will help prolong their lifespan.

Replace any protective paneling or coverings that may have been damaged by branches or other debris. This helps reduce the amount of potential damage that could be done to your solar panels in the future.

While it may be tempting to do otherwise, never use a product that is not intended for cleaning solar panels. This can cause serious damage that will need to be repaired by a professional which means spending more money than if you had just used an approved cleaner in the first place.

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