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Cleaning your Solar Panels

While in most instances solar panels are self cleaning, in some instances where the area is particularly dry, or where there is minimal tilt, the panels may be subject to dust, bird droppings etc which are not cleaned off by the rain. This can affect the amount of electricity that can be generated by the panel. Just a little bit of dust and droppings can affect the whole panel. And as a result, it will be necessary to clean the solar panels.

For safety’s sake, you should read the manufacturer’s manual for the instructions on closing down your solar system before you start the cleaning process.

Stay grounded

Stay on the ground to clean the panels. This is the safest way. You will need a good quality, soft brush on a long extension pole, and on another pole a squeegee which has a sponge on one side and a blade on the other side. Use a nozzle on your hose which can stream the water onto the panels.

If you can’t reach the panels from the ground this way, don’t use a ladder. This can be dangerous if you don’t have the training or safety equipment. Hire a qualified expert.

The best time to do it

We suggest that the best time is when it is cloudy. This will hinder the sun from heating up the panels causing the water to evaporate, which will probably leave a smeared result. Morning or evening is best. Very early morning could be a good time, as any grime might be softened by overnight dew. This will make it easier to get the panels clean.

How to do it

First brush away loose materials from dry panels, before you add the water. Don’t use abrasives or metal objects to remove material that is caked on. If the glass is scratched its performance is affected. Don’t use detergents; these may leave streaks on the glass. Don’t use abrasive powders.

Use your soft brush or the sponge-on-a-pole, together with clean water from your hose and a gentle scrubbing method, to remove most grime. If you have collected rainwater, use the soft rainwater as the final rinse, and use the squeegee blade to dry. If you only have hard water from the mains to rinse the panels, make sure you dry them well, as the minerals in the hard water can deposit on the glass panel as it is drying.

If you have oily stains

This might happen if your home is near the airport, or under the flight path, or may even result from trucks on a nearby major roadway. Use isopropyl alcohol to clean off oily spots.

However …

Under normal installation circumstances, it is not always necessary to specially clean your solar panels. The sun gives you power, the rain will wash them.  If you are noticing trouble with the performance of your solar panels, then the first step to solving the problem could be investigating the cleanliness of the panels. Beyond that, you may need to call in professional solar panel cleaners.