Tips for Cleaning Dirty Solar Panels

Solar panels are very effective, and help us save power and energy costs. You can run several devices through solar energy, like lights, fans, chargers, fountains, and much more. But, solar panels are outdoor units, so they get dust, leaves, birds’ stuff, or debris, etc.

Before we discuss the cleaning tips, we have to see how solar panels get dirty, and why we should clean them. Generally, you install a solar system on the roof or some flat surface. People focus on cleaning their homes from the inside, giving less attention to the roofs.

Though solar panels are often waterproof or dustproof, and if you don’t clean them for long, dust will accumulate on their surface. Sometimes pollen or some other particles also fall on a panel during a storm.

Bird droppings also stick to the panels, and even the rain can’t clean them. The solar panels need regular cleaning if you live in an area where droughts and storms are common.

A surface with dust can’t fully absorb the sunlight, or it reflects more light than absorbing it. Though it reduces the panel’s efficiency by up to 5%, you have to maintain it.

How to Clean Solar Panels

You can choose professional cleaners or can clean by yourself. So, let’s see how to clean dirty solar panels.

Professional Cleaning

Professional cleaning of the solar panels involves expert cleaners and special cleaning equipment. Many solar companies offer free cleaning with their products, so you can also avail of this opportunity.

Whereas if it’s not free, you have to pay a huge amount for professional services, and the low electricity bills won’t be so useful in the long run.

DIY Cleaning

If you can’t afford professional cleaning, you can do it yourself by adopting certain methods. All you need is water and soap like you can use a water hose to wash away the dirt.  But, first of all, you have to find if the panels need cleaning or not. You can do it through a visual inspection, or the panel’s performance can also alert you in this case. You should also see if the panel needs maintenance due to some mechanical or electrical issues.

Different materials are available to clean solar panels, and sometimes the sellers can also guide you in this regard. You have to follow certain dos and don’ts, such as

  • First, get a hose and a bucket, and fill it with water and some liquid soap. Make sure not to overload it with soap. The process is just like washing your vehicle like a car.
  • To avoid scratches, use a soft sponge and water because scratches make solar panels weak, leading to early damage.
  • Likewise, don’t throw water with high pressure as what you get from certain sprayers. Also, don’t fully open the tap to avoid high pressure, because speedy water can destroy the solar panel.
  • Sometimes birds’ droppings are hard to remove with water. But, don’t use a hard brush or abrasive sponge to remove it. Instead, be soft with the panels.
  • After removing the hard debris with a soft sponge, wash the panel with water at low pressure as discussed above.
  • In the case of soapy water, avoid using laundry soap with chemicals because it can affect the panel. You can use mild dishwashing soap; however, the plain water is 99% right for this purpose.
  • As you know that solar panels store the sunlight that’s why we keep them on the roof or where there is the intense sun. So, they are hot, and washing them can burn your hands. Even washing with soap can cause some reactions to the panels.
  • Don’t try to dry off a solar panel with a cloth after cleaning it. Let it air-dry because hand drying can cause scratches or tear it off if it has rust.
  • To avoid any damage, better clean on a cloudy day or when the sun is weak.
  • If the panel is on the rooftop or shade, use a ladder carefully.
  • Don’t wash the panels with formal clothes. Wear a raincoat so the water splashes can’t destroy your clothes or wear rough clothes. Like a loose t-shirt and a trouser would be comfortable.
  • Lastly, if it’s a small solar panel, you can take it to the service center for cleaning, especially if the service is free or cheap.

Is Cleaning A Solar Panel Useful?

Some experts say that cleaning is not that useful, especially if it’s through a company or professional cleaner. According to them, the return on investment lacks in this case to justify the issue. However, some other experts say that solar panels on a flat roof need cleaning because the debris may not wash away with rain.

A panel with a high-degree tilt may not need cleaning because whatever falls on it will not stick on its surface. Instead, the dirt will move down due to an inclined panel.

Sometimes in tilted panels, the lower panel may trap some dust, but that does not much affect its absorption level.

Only the poor panels get damaged due to external factors and need your attention. Try to use high-quality solar panels, and many companies are selling them. Panels should be rustproof, or they will destroy faster, especially, in a rainy season.

Also, make sure the panel is shockproof; especially, if the earthquakes or hurricanes are frequent in your area.

Some Warm Tips

You should allow the rain to remove solar panels ‘dirt. Watch your electricity bills to detect the quality of your solar panel. If there is an increase in the bill, you may not be getting enough sunlight to charge your devices. If the panel’s efficiency is low due to dirt, better clean it.

Sometimes panel’s own conversion rate is not high that’s why it does not give good results. Always use a panel with a high conversion rate of up to 20%. Set the panel angle according to the sun as it will increase its working time through the maximum absorption of solar power.

However, if the panel is still working poor, you should replace it with a new product.

Related: 11 Best Portable Solar Panels Reviews in 2020

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