Solar panels are prone to dirt and dust buildup due to how they are installed. The more dust, dirt, and bird droppings accumulate, the more they cover the panels. This necessitates cleaning up because you want to ensure the panels receive as much sunlight as possible. Simple Solar takes you through the importance of regular solar panel cleaning and shares tips on how to clean them.
The main reason to clean your solar panels is to increase their efficiency. When you clean them, you eliminate dust, dirt, and other accumulated debris, such as bugs and leaves. This keeps the panels’ surface clean, increasing their efficiency over time.
Prevent Permanent Staining
Things like bird dropping can cause permanent staining when ignored. And if birds like pigeons have formed nests between the panels, there’s a high chance that your panels will have a lot of droppings. Cleaning regularly ensures the droppings don’t become permanent stains. It’s also a chance for you to get rid of those nests.
Makes Solar Panel Inspection Easier
Another reason to clean your panels is to spot damage. While these panels are strong, something can cause a crack. When you clean, you can check for any damage and call our professionals to repair or replace the panels.
Lastly, clean panels are aesthetically pleasing. Dirty panels look aged and unappealing. In the same way, if you like to keep your home clean, it’s just as important to clean the panels often. They will enhance curb appeal.
Should I Hire Experts to Clean My Panels?
As mentioned, cleaning solar panels helps increase their efficiency. A study by the University of Malaga found that if you allow dust or debris to build up, it can reduce daily solar output by about 20%, meaning solar panel cleaning is crucial.
However, other studies have come to a different conclusion, suggesting that while regular cleaning affects solar panel output production, it’s not that big. A University of California research paper concluded that solar panel performance was only reduced by 7.4% after not cleaning them for around 145 days.
Researchers also found that regular 5kW residential solar panel cleaning only saved homeowners about 20% off their electricity bill with the current energy utility rates. When you consider the costs of hiring professional solar panel cleaners, you’ll see that you’re losing instead of saving money.
From both arguments, it’s a fact that regular solar panel cleaning maximizes a panel’s power output, saves you on utility bills, and reduces your carbon footprint. However, to enjoy these benefits without going at a loss, it’s better to do the cleaning yourself. On the other hand, if you’re using solar panels in a commercial setting, where regular cleaning can result in significant savings, consider hiring people to do the job.
String Inverter PV Systems Require More Regular Cleaning Than Microinverters
Although regular cleaning is essential for all types of PV systems, it’s more important if you use string inverters. That’s because if the performance of one panel reduces, it affects the whole system. Microinverters work differently because even if the performance reduces on only one panel, the other panels will remain effective.
When Should You Clean Your Solar Panels?
If you notice your system’s performance has reduced, dirt and debris could be the cause. While it’s natural for the system’s performance to keep fluctuating, unexpected and prolonged output decreases, indicate that your panels need attention. If this is the cause, you can easily rectify it by cleaning them.
Besides that, the best time to clean the panels is at the end of autumn after leaves have stopped falling. You can also clean at the end of winter when the snow has stopped falling or in late spring when the pollen count has reduced.
Because our climate is arid in Arizona, clean the panels in the driest months because dust accumulates and can threaten the system’s performance. The mode of installation will also affect how regularly you clean the panels. Flatter panels will likely collect more dirt, requiring more cleaning than panels installed horizontally.
In addition, if you have many solar panels, you need to clean regularly because even if performance dips for one minute, it leads to significant losses when you multiply the many panels you have. In a residential setting, the cleaning schedule is more relaxed.
Avoid These Mistakes When Cleaning Solar Panels
When cleaning solar panels, here are the mistakes you’ll want to avoid.
Not Using the Right Equipment
Because solar panels are installed on rooftops, accessing them can be a challenge. When people call professional cleaners, they’ll come with the right equipment, like ladders, water tanks, harnesses, and specialized brushes for cleaning. They also have the right cleaning products to avoid damaging the panels.
In a residential setting, assessing these items can be a challenge. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. You’ll need to be more careful and avoid using anything abrasive or hard that can damage the panels. Use a soft rag and some water to eliminate the dirt.
Ignoring Personal Safety
Because you’ll be using a ladder, be careful. You can even invite a friend to help you with this task. Aside from the risk of injuries, mixing water with electricity is dangerous. Be careful how you wash the panels to avoid being electrocuted.
Cleaning on the Hottest Days
Lastly, avoid cleaning on hot days. When solar panels are exposed to direct sunlight, they become hot quickly. That means the surface will dry quite faster, leaving streaks. In addition, if the panels are too hot and you pour cold water on them, they might crack. Clean on cooler days or later when the temperatures aren’t that hot.
Related Guide: Things All Good Solar Energy Providers Have in Common
Enjoy Improved Solar Performance Through Regular Cleaning
As you can see, cleaning your solar panels is important as it increases their performance. However, you only have to involve an expert if in a commercial setting, where cleaning leads to increased savings.
For more tips on how to clean and maintain your solar panels and a quote on installation, contact our experts at Simple Solar today.