A Quick Guide to Cleaning Solar Panels
If you purchase your electricity from a conventional supplier, then any maintenance that is needed is done by the electricity company.
However, when it comes to solar panels it’s not as simple. The solar panel system is purchased by the homeowner, and although there is a warranty on parts, the responsibility of maintenance falls to the homeowner.
Regular solar system maintenance can ensure a better energy efficiency for the panels, and a greater amount of electricity being generated for net metering and home use.
Helping your solar panels to remain efficient
Most solar panels installed today will have a lifespan of approximately 25-30 years. They typically come with 20-year manufacturers warranties stating they’ll produce at least 80% of the rated power after two decades of usage.
On top of this, some solar panel providers offer comprehensive maintenance packages for the life of their products to ensure they efficiently continue generating clean, affordable, and reliable energy for years to come.
Cleaning Your Solar Panels
So you’ve decided you want to clean your solar panels yourself. The good news is that in most cities, rain will take care of keeping your panels clean.
Solar panels that are installed at steeper tilt won’t tend to get covered in dust and pollen, and it will typically be washed off with every rainfall. If they are flatter, the dust may not wash off as easily.
In cities such as San Diego and most of Southern California, rain is not as common. (Remember that old Albert Hammond song?)
If your solar panels start to accumulate dust or pollen, you can easily clean them with plain water. A simple hosing of the rooftop every 3-6 months is typically all that is needed.
Cleaning with Soapy Water
If you are willing to climb onto the roof, the most effective way to clean your solar panels is with a hose and a bucket of soapy water.
When washing by hand, there can be a danger of scratching the glass, which will reduce the light that gets to the solar cells. For this reason, when you choose solar panel cleaning products, it’s important to avoid any type of abrasive cleanser. As a rule, if you wouldn’t use it on your car, then don’t use it on solar panels.
Detergent cleaners can cause problems if they leave streaks and smudges that may be hard for you to see. These can also decrease the light that passes through.
Rubbing alcohol dissolved in water can take care of any oily residue or other dirt that may have found its way onto the glass.
When wiping down your panels, you can use a soft cloth or squeegee. As solar panels are made of glass, you don’t really need to shop for specialized solar panel cleaning tools. It’s basically the same products that you would use to wash your car.
Sun and Shade Monitoring
When they are first installed, solar panels are placed in a location that allows maximum sun exposure. Over time, trees can grow taller, and cause the patterns of sun and shade can change. Also, new construction on adjacent properties may have an effect on how much sun your installation gets.
Because of this, during the lifetime of your panels, it’s important to make sure that they are still located with the optimum sunlight orientation.
Overall, solar panels don’t require a lot of maintenance as there are no moving parts.
Always remember to be safety conscious when inspecting your panels and if your panels are too high up on the roof, consider hiring a professional cleaner.