A vehicle that is well taken care of will last longer and perform better. Solar panels are like vehicles in that way – they simply function better when they are clean, and they have a longer lifespan as well. By making sure your solar panels stay clean, it will keep them eco-friendly, and you will squeeze better performance out of them. Regular cleaning will help you get the most out of your solar panels and ensure they last for a long time.
In this article, we will be looking at what causes solar panels to get dirty, how you should clean them, and when you might need professionals to do the cleaning for you.
What Blocks Your Solar Panels?
Dust will build up on solar panels over time, and they need to be cleared off or that dust will negatively affect the panels’ performance. The best way to clean the panels will be decided by a variety of factors.
Dust will have an effect on the panels, so make sure you clean it off regularly. Studies show that dust building up on your panels for just a minute can reduce efficiency by as much as 5%. If your panels are cleaned regularly, you can enjoy around 3.5% efficiency improvement. An analysis by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory demonstrated up to 30% energy loss when panels are constantly left uncleaned.
What causes dust to build up on the panels, though? Where you live is the biggest factor by far. If there is heavy, frequent rainfall in your area, then that will help clean up some of the dust accumulation and necessitate less cleaning from you.
How much power are you losing when you don’t clean your solar panels? Dust accumulation can cause a serious loss of power- around 60%. Daily energy loss caused by dust accumulation is about 4.4%. This is no minor problem.
Dust will prevent sunlight from getting out the panels, and this pollutant can limit the panel’s ability to produce energy efficiently. Cleaning up the panels is so important that doing so can double your energy production by the next day. Cleaning vastly improves the performance of your panels, which is why you need to make it a priority.
If your panels are set up in an area where there is a lot of dust in the environment due to passing vehicles or a lack of grass, then you will need to clean and maintain the panels more frequently. If you don’t keep them clean, then you will see your energy production plummet, with about a 40% energy efficiency loss in dust prone environments.
Bird Droppings Are Energy Killers
What affects the energy production of the solar panels even more than dust? It’s bird droppings, which are so bad for your panels that they can completely sap their energy and cause almost no sunlight to be converted into usable energy (source). If you have a micro-inverter system, then your energy production can be affected even more severely.
Be aware of trees located close to the panels, as they drop debris onto the panels and also make a nice resting place for birds to hang out and land droppings on the panels. For people who have trees near the panels, a regular, monthly cleaning is a good idea. Bird proofing may also be necessary to help keep the panels clean.
The angle of the panels is important as well. If you have a flat array, then you may need to service the panels more often. Water can pool on them and then leave behind a muddy deposit when it dries. If your panels are angled properly, though, then they can benefit from the cleansing power of the rain and not have so much muddy residue for you to worry about.
Should You Have Your Solar Panels Professionally Cleaned?
For most solar panel system owners, the preferred method of upkeep is for them to do it themselves. If you want to keep your system clean and working efficiently, and you want to be safe, then make sure you follow the recommended safety guidelines and use a professional cleaning service.
While DIY cleaning can be affordable, it isn’t always the best option. You may not be able to clean the panels properly and safely on your own, and it may not be as simple of a task as you think. The safest way is to have the experienced cleaners at GB Cleaning Services help with cleaning.
When Should You Get Help from Solar Cleaning Professionals?
You might be able to do the majority of your cleaning with a garden hose, spraying from a safe distance and getting most of the dirt and debris off of the panels. To make things much safer, though, we recommend hiring professionals to clean the panels for you. They can do the job well without any risk to you, and you will get a better overall clean and better panel performance.
How to Keep Panels Clean for Yourself?
If you decide to do the cleaning on your own, you can use some very simple tools for the job. All you need is a mild detergent, clean water, and a high quality soft brush. For most of the cleaning, you should use simply water and a brush. Use a mild detergent on the parts that need additional cleaning. You can use a cloth covered sponge in conjunction with the brush for a more thorough cleaning. By using mild detergents and soft cleaning tools, you will keep your panels from being marked and scratched.
Using the Right Tools
There are some great solar panel cleaning tools you can use to make the job a bit easier on yourself. Rotary solar brushes do an excellent job of cleaning the panel safely. An Extentool and a hose work great together in clearing off dust and debris from a safe distance on the ground. For the cleaning agent, we recommend using a solar panel cleaning solution so that you’re sure not to damage your panels.
When trying to clean the panels yourself, take every necessary precaution. Use a harness to keep yourself from falling off the roof and wear protective gear like a hard hat to minimize the hazards of this work. While you may be able to do the cleaning yourself, you should definitely consider hiring professionals for it.
How to Keep Your Solar Panels Running Efficiently
Cleaning the panels on your own and having professional cleaning services maintain them will help your panels operate efficiently. However, there are some additional steps you can take to reduce maintenance costs and improve efficiency. These include:
- protective coating to keep dust and soil away
- automated cleaning systems that use air blowers and soft brushes to remove dirt
- commercial dirt measurement tools
- a dust monitoring system to detect dirt build up and determine the best time to clean the solar power array
How often should you be cleaning your solar panels? A thorough and intensive cleaning should be done at least two times a year to protect your investment.
If you don’t take good care of your solar panel array, you will pay more for maintenance costs and may need to replace some of the panels prematurely. You will also lose out on energy your panels could be collecting and converting for you, and that means lost money
Cleaning solar panels is so important, and you can expect a gradual increase of energy efficiency if you are not cleaning them frequently and properly. Here is how that may break down:
- First quarter- 5% loss of energy
- Second quarter- 10% loss
- Third quarter- 15% loss
- Fourth quarter- 20% loss
- Second year, first quarter- 25% loss
- Second year, second quarter- 30% loss
- Second year, third quarter- 35% loss
How to Stay Safe when Cleaning Solar Panels Yourself
If you live in an area with plenty of rainfall, you might not need to call in professional cleaners very often. If you live in an area with a lot of dust or other pollutants, however, then it’s a good idea to work with a garden hose to clean the panels off every few days and then have professional cleaners do a more intensive cleaning a few times a year.
In some cases, the grime stuck to your solar panels will be so tough that you need to get on to the roof to clean it off. Be sure to use proper safety equipment and safety precautions when doing this kind of work. Consider hiring expert cleaners for your solar panels to eliminate any risk for you.