After solar panel installation in your home, you are left wondering how to make the most out of your investment. The ideal way is to make sure that your solar panels have supportive conditions for generating electricity. This can be done by making sure your solar panels are clean. Clean panels increase the efficiency of the system and also the system’s lifespan.
Is Cleaning Solar Panels Necessary?
Most solar panels are self-cleaning as rain cleans a big part of the obstructing dirt or pollen. However, there are a few cases that may make solar panel cleaning worthwhile. One such instance is when the solar panels are installed at a shallow angle. This positioning does not allow all accumulated dirt to be washed away making it necessary to regularly clean your solar panels.
Another case that warrants regular cleaning of solar panels is a specific, localized circumstance. A good example is when you live next to an agricultural field, airport runaway, factory or next to a highway. These places generate more dirt that my regular cleaning. In addition, bird droppings can obstruct sunlight, therefore, affecting the performance of the solar panel systems.
How to Clean Solar Panels
Solar panel cleaning activity depends on the type of dirt that is present on the modules. The best time to wash your solar panels is when they are not hot. Also, the preferred time is early in the morning or in the evening. Cleaning them mid-day may break the glass, or if it does not break, you can damage the glass/metal seal because of the high temperatures.
Dirt should never be scrubbed from the solar panels. Scrubbing can remove the non-reflective coatings that may be on the panels or permanently destroy the glass on the glass of the pane. Loose dirt can be removed by sweeping, this method avoids water waste and is simple; you only need a good broom to perform the task. You can also rely on the rain of you have a good amount of rainfall in your area. Also, maintenance is the key to maximizing the benefits you get from your solar panel systems
Some basic things to keep in mind when cleaning your solar panel system are:
1. Use a soft sponge and biodegradable soap to get rid of dirt and muddy build-up on your panels
2. Avoid using water on the panels when they are hot for example during midday. The best time to wash the panels is in the morning or evening.
3. Do not use sharp metal objects to remove materials such as bird droppings.
The Cleaning Process
• Spray all panels with water to remove any debris or gunk off.
• Mix the cleaning solution with water in the buckets.
• Use a soft bristle brush, dip it in the bucket and scrub the solar panels.
• Continue with this process until you effectively remove all the gunk off the panel (this may take some time because bird droppings and sap are not easy to clean.
• Start to squeegee the panels until there is no water left on them
• Put everything away and repeat the process every six months. By doing this your solar panels will remain clean while producing much energy as possible.
Why Cleaning Solar Panels is Important
It is very important to clean your solar panels. Dirt on the solar panels prevents the entry of light. Moreover, solar panels are made to work by allowing light enters the solar cells. Bird poop, dust or pollen prevent the light from reaching the solar cells which eventually leads to less energy production.
Many people clean them on their own, however, you can hire a professional cleaning company that is experienced in this job, so maybe it’s a better solution to let them do it for you. The functionality of solar panels may be affected when they are dirty. Dirty panels tend to produce less energy than the clean ones under the same circumstances. Furthermore, a clean solar power means more efficiency while a dirty one may not be as efficient as needed. This is because dirt prevents light from impact in the on the cells.
Prevention of Dirt and Dust Build
Accumulated dust and dust cloud on solar panels decrease their performance capacity. If you leave your solar panels dirty, then, they will not perform to the optimum.
Get Rid of Bird Poop
Most solar panels are positioned that they can easily get bird droppings. Bird droppings are not washed away by rain and need manual cleaning. Again, they prevent the amount of light the solar cells get, therefore decreasing power generated.
Most solar manufacturers include solar cleaning as a condition in their warranty. If your solar panel gets damaged and is unable to perform, the panel may not be covered by the warranty. This applies to a scenario where you cannot prove to the manufactures that you had been maintaining them will.
Improve Overall Performance
Research indicates that cleaned solar panels have the capacity of more than 10 % better functionality than the ones that are not regularly cleaned. Therefore, regularly clean the solar panels to maintain their efficiency.
Rain Won’t Do the Job
We all assume that rain washes all the dirt from our solar panels, this is not the case. Since bird droppings or soot from nearby factories stick to the panels and rainwater can’t take wash away. To make sure that you take good care of your solar panels, wash them regularly. Washing is the better option of removing such dirt from your panels.
How frequent you clean your solar panels is determined by where you live. If your house is located where there are no farming activities or manufacturing plants, then wash your solar panels ones every two years. However, if you live in a busy area then it’s better if you wash your solar panel twice per year.
For Further Reading:
Resources into the ideas presented by this article include:
• Article, Energy Informative.org: https://energyinformative.org/solar-panel-cleaning/
• Article at Vivint Solar: https://www.vivintsolar.com/learning-center/solar-panel-cleaning
• Article, “Making Your House Greener”, New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/12/realestate/making-your-house-greener.html