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Ultimate Guide on How to Clean Solar Panels

Solar energy has numerous benefits, although the initial investment can be daunting to most people. However, investing in your own solar panels will reduce energy costs, increase your property or home value, and ultimately help our planet. Solar energy can be directly captured and used without any mining or transportation needs making it the cleanest, greenest, and most affordable form of renewable power. It can be utilized everywhere on land, islands, mountains, or even out at sea. 

Solar panels operate by converting sunlight into electricity - the power output generated from the solar panels highly depends on the sun's intensity reaching the solar cells. Reduce the amount of light absorbed on the surface, Over time, solar panels can become dirty due to pollution and dust exposure, reducing the amount of light absorbed on the surface, and lose efficiency. Learning how to clean solar panels is critical for efficient solar generation and to ensure long-term benefits. 

The following guide will cover everything you need to know about how to clean solar panels, whether they’re on your house, your RV, your boat or a portable solar unit you travel around with.

How to Clean Solar Panels: Materials 

Solar panel cleaning entails washing the panels like windows, which can be combined with preventative maintenance. Solar maintenance is the technical maintenance done by a professional, usually once every year.

So, when should you clean your solar panels? This depends on the particular system you own, your location, the weather and environmental conditions, and the time of the year. Averagely, solar panel owners should clean their solar panels at least once or twice every year. Below are the materials you need to clean your solar panels if going the DIY way. 

Water and a Soft Cloth

Solar panel cleaning kits come with the materials required, and you'll only need clean plain water from your home. All you have to do is mix the water and mild soap in a bucket and use a soft cloth or brush to gently wipe the solar panels to remove any accumulated dirt or grime on the panels. Avoid using very cold water on your warm solar panels, as this can result in thermal shock, which can permanently damage the panels. Also, very high-pressure water can damage the joints in the panels' frames. 

A soft cloth helps avoid making any scratches on the glass panels, which could cause expensive damage.

Mild Soap and a Soft Brush

Mild soap or common household glass cleaners should be used as strong cleaning products may leave streaks on the panels. Besides, abrasive soap may scratch the glass panels and cause damage that is costly to repair.

You should use soft-bristled solar panel cleaning brushes to ensure you do not scratch the solar panels during cleaning. 


How to Clean Solar Panels: Step-by-Step Instructions

Let's look at the step-by-step directions for how to clean solar panels from beginning to end.

PREPARATION

  • Shut off electricity 
  • It's crucial to always shut off electricity beforehand to eliminate any risk of you being electrocuted. Besides, it's not enough to simply shut off the inverter. This is because photovoltaic cells use visible light to convert the photons into currents that can shock you. Completely shut down your DC systems and shut down the AC systems via the Solar Supply Main Switch. 


  • Wear protective gear 
  • Cleaning solar panels means climbing to your roof to get the work done. As such, you must always use safety equipment such as a ladder and a safety harness to prevent serious falls. This is a precaution used by professional cleaning experts. Also, remember to use a hard hat, gloves, and a dust mask when cleaning your solar panels.

    You should clean your panels from the ground if you don't have these. Simply use a hose with a suitable nozzle to direct water onto the solar panels. 


  • Inspect solar panels 
  • Once you've found a safe and secure position, inspect your solar panels by looking for any dust, bird droppings, dirt, or other debris on the surface of the solar panels. If any, you should clean it to ensure your solar panels work optimally. Inspecting the panels regularly helps you keep them clean and avoid any long-term damage. 

    When inspecting your solar panels, ensure that you look for any damage or cracks which should be repaired immediately. Otherwise, the damage could lead to major problems later, proving costly to repair. Other general inspection protocols include the following:

    • Ensure the panels aren't tilted too much, as this can lead to shading and inefficiency. 
    • Check for any physical damage at the base of the panel
    • Ensure there is no debris blocking the solar panel
    • Ensure all electrical connections are secure

    CLEANING

    Once you've inspected your panels and determined they need cleaning, it's time to gather your supplies. You'll need a bucket of warm water, a sponge or soft cloth, and mild soap. It's important to avoid harsh cleaners or chemicals that could damage your panels. If you've found a lot of debris and dirt accumulation, you may need a soft-bristled brush to remove it. A soft-bristled brush is used to avoid scratching the surface of the panels. Once you've gathered all your supplies, it's time to start cleaning the solar panels by following the procedure below:

    1. Rinse solar panels with water 
    2. Apply mild soap and rub gently with a soft cloth 
    3. Rinse off the soap and scrub away dirt with a soft brush 
    4. Dry solar panels with a soft cloth 

    After rinsing the soap off the solar panels, you should dry them using a clean, soft cloth to wipe down the panels' surface. Ensure you dry all the sides of the solar panel, including the edges, front, and back. You can also allow the panels to air dry, which could take some time. 

    Final Steps 

    Once you've cleaned your panels, it's important to inspect them and ensure they're clean. Once they're clean, you can turn on the electricity and continue enjoying your solar power and benefits. You can rest assured that you'll have uninterrupted and efficient solar power, and your equipment will last many years. 

    How to Clean Solar Panels: Tips & Tricks

    Use a Garden Hose To Rinse

    You can use a garden hose to rinse the solar power. However, ensure that the water pressure shouldn't exceed 35 bar or 500 psi at the nozzle. The high pressure could exert excess pressure that could damage your modules.

    Use a Squeegee to Dry

    Finishing up the cleaning process with a squeegee is important to prevent water streaks or residue from shading your solar panels. A squeegee is especially imperative for hard water, preventing mineral buildup. You can use a squeegee with an extension handle to remove the water from the hard-to-reach sections, whether the panels are mounted on the ground, wall, or roof. 

    Use White Vinegar for Stubborn Dirt 

    Vinegar is a perfect solution for cleaning solar panels. This is because it contains acetic acid strong enough to eliminate persistent dirt and debris without harming the solar panels. 


    What to Avoid When Cleaning Solar Panels

    Certain products can damage your solar panels and should therefore be avoided:

    • Abrasive sponges
    • Hard water
    • Very cold water
    • Solvents and detergents
    • Very high-pressure water

    How Much Does it Cost to Clean Solar Panels?

    The cost of having a professional solar panel expert clean your panels depends on the specific system. Some solar providers give a flat rate, but most charge per panel.

    The final cost depends on several factors, including:

    • The number of solar panels to be cleaned
    • The size of the panels (Residential or commercial panels)
    • The amount of debris and dirt debris
    • The slant and type of your roof
    • The type of surface the panels are installed on (roof, wall, or ground)

    Summary 

    Cleaning solar panels reduces debris, dust, dirt, and other contaminants such as bugs, bird droppings, and leaves which can reduce their efficiency.  By cleaning your solar panels regularly, you will maximize your investment. 

    As detailed above the process is simple and inexpensive. You only need clean water, mild soap, a soft cloth, and a soft brush, and a

    If you want your own solar panel system to enjoy the numerous benefits such as reduced energy costs and increasing your property value, please browse Solar Paradise's complete collection of Solar Panels to find the one that suits your needs. If you have any questions, you can contact our Paradise Customer Support team - we are always ready and happy to help. 

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