If you have a solar energy system installed on your home’s roof, you know that solar panels are generally flat and somewhat tilted.
In most cases, you won’t need to clean your solar panels frequently, if at all. After all, if dirt accumulates on their surface, it will get washed off the next time it rains.
There are some instances when it might make sense to clean your solar panels, though. For one, if you’ve got bird droppings on your panels, these might not be removed by rain easily, so it’s a good idea to clean the solar panels manually. Also, if your home is in a state where it rarely rains, you might need to clean them now and then if the panels get dirty.
Do dirt and debris affect the effectiveness of solar panels? And if so, by how much? Well, there’s no straight answer. Yes, dirt and debris can get in the way of the sunlight that gets through to be converted to energy. But, the amount the efficiency is reduced is minute – maybe just about 5% or even less.
For example, with a typical 5kW solar system, this might amount to about $20 of loss in your electric bill. It’s not monthly – it’s overall. And in truth, even in areas with drought, eventually, when it does rain, even if it’s just once every few months, everything will still be washed away. Because that’s more than enough washing, it might not even be worth the trouble to do the cleaning.
If you do decide to do some solar cleaning, here’s how you should do it:
How to Clean Solar Panels
Get Some Safety Gear on
While cleaning the solar panels, you still want to protect your skin, eyes, and breathing. You might want to wear safety gear like a dust mask, rubber gloves, and safety goggles.
Look for Bad Stains
Don’t just run a brush over the surface of the panels. Instead, look for stains on the panels and determine if they’re dirt, dust, bird droppings, or if they’re something else altogether. If you’re not sure what’s on the panels, consult a solar professional before proceeding.
Clean on a Cloudy Day
When it’s a cloudy day, it’s generally a good idea to clean them.
Cloudy days are ideal because it will be less likely for the wind to blow the dust off the panels before it’s cleaned, plus the sun is not making the panels hot, so it will be easier to clean them without any risk of burning yourself.
Use Soft Brushes or Other Tools
If there are just dirt, dust, or dirt stains, or if it’s just bird droppings, then a soft brush or cloth will do. If you want to clean it more thoroughly, then use vinegar and warm water. Vinegar is acidic and will be able to cut through the dirt. For more prominent stains like bird droppings, you might want to use a stronger mix or even a mild detergent but stick to products safe for solar panels.
Clean the Panels with Warm Water
After you’re done cleaning the panels, the water can be collected and thrown away. Use warm water because it will make it easier to remove the dirt. The water temperature is not going to have much of an effect on the dirt removal process, but it will be better to use warm water to clean the panels since you’ll be able to rinse it off quicker.
Dry the Panels with Cloth or Towel
When you’re done cleaning them, the water can be collected and thrown away. Use a cloth or towel to dry the panels. Start from the top to the bottom. It’s a good idea to dry the panels once you’re done with the cleaning.
Solar cleaning might not be necessary, but if you feel like you want to do it, then go right ahead. Just be sure to clean them on cloudy days, do it carefully, and make sure the panels are dry before using the electricity it generates.
Ecopower Electrical contractors offer a plethora of commercial and residential electrical services in Brisbane and surrounding areas. We also have a team of expert solar power installers who can set up your solar energy panels. Contact us today to know more about our services!