Ready to finally clean your solar panels? Perhaps your solar panels are looking a little dusty? Perhaps they have an absurd amount of bird droppings? Or maybe it is spring cleaning time! Here is what you should know when it is time to give your panels a little scrub.
How Do I Clean My Solar Panels?
Do you need to clean? Depends on what you own.
First off, solar panels are self-cleaning! Generally, the rain should be enough to clean off any dirt that has accumulated on any of your Photo Voltaic (PV) panels. In most cases, cleaning your panels is not worth the hassle and danger. Regardless, over time you may find that a buildup of dust and particulates may occur. Here are some general guidelines for cleaning depending on what system you own.
Flat PV Panels
Google performed a case study in Mountain View, California showing that cleaned flat panels could produce up to 36% more energy compared to those that have not been cleaned. In this case, if you live in an area with a lot of pollution and particulates, it is a good idea to clean your panels when they become noticeably dirty.
Tilted PV Panels
The same Google case study found that clean tilted panels did not produce a significant increase in the amount of energy created compared to those that had not been cleaned. The rain is sufficient cleaning for these types of panels. Thus, in the case that you live in a dry climate without much rain, you should consider cleaning.
Evacuated Tube Solar Collector
If you own this solar water heater, this system should be service cleaned. Do not attempt to clean it yourself! By attempting to clean this system yourself, you are tampering with pressure gauges and very hot water. It is best to leave this to trained professionals. If you have any questions regarding what type of panel you have, feel free to contact us, or a professional, before you start cleaning your solar panel.
It is important to keep safety a priority when cleaning. Please shut down your system before attempting to clean it. Clean in the morning or evening to avoid times when the solar panels can get very hot. Pick a day that is cooler in temperature, or overcast. If you feel uncomfortable climbing onto the roof, you may also seek professional cleaners.
When it snows, many people wonder if it is necessary to clean the snow off their photovoltaic panels. However, it is not necessary to be doing so. The glass panels are designed to be non-sticky, so most snow should slide off. Additionally, during heavy snowstorms, production will be low—it is part of the design of the solar panel system. So, there is no need to take any risks on a heavy snow day.
How to clean?
To avoid damaging the panel, do not use any types of soaps or cleaning fluids if possible. Soap can leave behind a residue and strong cleaning agents may cause damage to the glass. Use warm water and a non-abrasive cloth or sponge to tackle that dirty panel. Gently wipe down your panels. You may even spray with a hose on low pressure. If you find that there are stubborn stains or grimes that do not easily come off, then resort to a little dish soap or isopropyl alcohols. You may also look into purchasing rotary brushes that are specifically designed to clean solar panels and avoid scratching them. These are brushes and machines that professionals would use to clean your roof system.