Solar panels can collect a lot of dirt, including pollen, bird droppings, leaves, soot, and lichen. This dirt shading decreases the energy production of a solar panel system.
A dirty solar panel can lose up to 5% of its electricity output. It’s important to clean the panels regularly with a garden hose and water sprayer that allows you to stand on the ground (or a ladder if necessary). can be done without using bleach or harsh chemicals that could damage the tempered glass.
In most places around Australia, solar panels are mostly cleaned for free by the sun, rain, and wind. Even if they are located under trees where bird droppings collect, the baking sun and washing rain will wash them off before they have much impact on energy production. However, regular cleaning may be beneficial if the panels are covered in pollen or smog or if there is caked-on dust.
If you choose to have your solar panels cleaned, it is advisable that you find an experienced and reliable service that understands the delicate nature of PV modules. These technicians will know how to properly rinse the modules without damaging them, using water systems that are not too harsh or pressurized. Using a pressure washer can crack the glass of the module and cause damage to the cells, reducing performance. It is also important that the solar panel cleaners you use are chemical-free. Some commercial cleaners use deionized water, which has had the minerals stripped out of it through reverse osmosis, leaving only pure H2O. This allows the water to better agitate the grime on the surface of your solar panels, resulting in an effective and streak-free cleaning.
You can also clean your solar panels yourself, but it is a good idea to check with the manufacturer first to ensure that you are not violating any warranties. It is also important to ensure that you have the proper safety equipment and know how to safely climb up on your roof and hose down the modules. You should also avoid using harsh chemical cleaners and abrasive scrubbers, as these could scratch the glass of your solar modules and reduce their performance over time.
A simple hose down with clean, fresh water from a bucket or a mixing sprayer is a cheap and effective way to clean your solar panels. You can buy specialist solar cleaning products that are designed to be used with PV modules, many of which are available in hardware stores and online. When using these chemicals, remember that they can only be applied when the modules are cool.
Many of us believe that cleaning solar panels is essential to maximize energy production. It is true that if your panels are covered in dust and bird droppings, they will not perform as well as they should. In some cases, a thick layer of grime can reduce a solar panel’s power output by up to 20%.
In most instances, however, regular rainfall is enough to wash away most dirt. Even in arid regions such as Adelaide, the occasional rainstorm will clean most of the dirt off of your solar panels without too much work on your part. Despite this, it is important to remember that solar panels are expensive pieces of equipment. Whether you’re a homeowner or a business, it makes more sense to spend the money on a slightly larger system that can absorb more sunlight and overcome the minor loss of performance caused by dirt than it does to constantly pay people to clean your solar panels.
One of the most common methods for washing solar panels is using a regular garden hose. However, before you do this, it is a good idea to check with the manufacturer of your solar panels and ask if they recommend any products specifically designed for cleaning solar panels. This is because some cleaning methods can damage the surface of your solar panels and void your warranty.
Other products, such as those that are formulated with non-soap-based solvents, are often recommended for use when washing solar panels. These types of products will change the surface tension of your water so that it can be more effective at dislodging dirt and debris from your solar panels.
If you live downwind from a highway or airport, or if your area has been subject to large amounts of industrial smog or wildfire smoke, you may need to wash your solar panels more frequently. It is also a good idea to wash your solar panels at dawn or dusk so that the sun does not dry out the cleaning water too quickly, as this can leave streaks on your solar panels.
A solar panel’s performance may suffer from a build-up of dirt, grime, and bird droppings. This can cause shading of the solar panel and reduce the efficiency of the system. This can lead to a decrease in energy production and a loss of financial return for the homeowner and investor. Regular cleaning can remove this build-up and keep the panels clean enough to perform at optimum levels.
However, there are situations where it is not possible to wash solar panels with a garden hose or a soft brush and soapy water. This includes areas where there is heavy air pollution, construction or landscaping work, or a lot of sandy soil. In these situations, it may be necessary to clean solar panels more frequently.
If you decide to wash your solar panels yourself, it is best to do so at dawn or dusk, on a cool day when the sun is not shining. This will prevent the sun from drying the panels too quickly and causing them to crack. It is also important not to use a pressure washer or any harsh chemical cleaners, as this can damage the panels and reduce their energy efficiency.
Scrubbing the solar panels with a non-abrasive soap mixture and a soft brush will also help to remove stubborn dirt and grime. A hose that is not pressurized should be used to rinse the solar panels, as a pressure washer can lead to fine cracks in the surface of the solar panel. After cleaning, it is recommended to monitor the output of the solar panels to ensure they are working at optimum performance.
Ultimately, it is up to the individual homeowner or investor to decide whether to invest time and money into washing their solar panels. For most people living in urban or suburban areas, it is unlikely that the need for regular cleaning will be great, as rain should be able to take care of most grime build-up. For those who live in more rural environments, it may be a good idea to consider the potential impact of dirty solar panels on their energy production and opt for cleaning more regularly.
The accumulation of dust on solar panels can reduce power output. Solar panel cleaners use a gentle wash with a non-soapy, non-abrasive solution or water to remove the build-up of dirt, pollen, and bird droppings. They can also use a high-pressure hose to remove moss or algae from the surface of your solar system. A thorough cleaning should take about a couple of hours, depending on the size of your solar system. It’s important to find someone familiar with your solar system’s specific cleaning needs so that you don’t damage your panels or risk voiding your warranty.
A professional will have the equipment and training to climb on the roof safely and thoroughly clean your solar panels. They will know how to avoid damage and make sure all of the dust and debris is removed without damaging your panels or causing them to lose efficiency. They will also be able to tell you when it’s necessary to clean your solar panels based on the weather and review the performance data from your meter.
Even if you have a professional come and clean your solar panels, you may not need to do this as often as most people think. A study conducted in Tucson, Arizona found that cleaning solar panels only increased their energy production by around 1%. However, this is only because the rain washed a lot of the dust off of them.
In most cases, the increase in energy production will not be enough to pay for the cost of cleaning your solar panels. If you’re thinking of hiring a professional to come and clean your solar panels, be sure to calculate the price of paying for their services versus the cost of installing an additional panel that will make up for the losses caused by not having your solar panels cleaned.
If you are concerned about your solar system’s performance, contact Green Convergence to discuss the possibility of installing a monitoring and maintenance package for your home or business. We can install sensors and trackers to monitor your solar system and alert you when it’s time for a cleaning or maintenance visit.