Last Updated: July 13th, 2021 at 10:10 am
Read Time: 4 Minutes
In general, solar panels are a low-maintenance investment, and that’s part of what makes them attractive. However, they can become covered with dust, dirt, pollen, bird droppings, and other debris, which can all reduce solar panel efficiency. If left uncleaned, you could see a decrease in your solar output and therefore an increase in electric bill costs. To keep your solar panels running at maximum efficiency, we recommend cleaning them at least once a year.
To help you do so safely and effectively, we created this all-in-one guide to solar panel maintenance and cleaning. Keep reading to learn why, when and how you should clean solar panels on your roof.
How to clean solar panels
The best way to clean solar panels is to use water and a sponge. No need to purchase a specific solar panel cleaning product. These at-home solutions will do the trick.
Understand that roof-mounted solar energy systems can be difficult to access and therefore can be dangerous for the average homeowner to clean themselves. That’s why we recommend hiring a professional to get the job done and save you the trouble.
You can contact your solar panel installer to see if they offer any cleaning services or if they can recommend someone. But, if you’re ready to take it on yourself, here’s a quick overview of what you’ll need to get your panels spick and span.
Solar Panel Cleaning Equipment
If your solar panels are installed on your roof, then you must have the proper equipment to not only access your roof safely but also clean your panels properly. Here’s a list of supplies you’ll need:
- Water (tap, hose or well water is fine)
- Soft cellulose cloth or sponge
- Soft brush or leaf blower (for seasonal debris)
- Snow roof rake (for winter weather)
- Rubbing alcohol or commercial glass cleaner (check your solar panel user/operation manual to see what is recommended for more stubborn dirt)
- Safety glasses
- Roof-access device (stool, ladder, etc.)
Solar panels are electrical devices that consist of wires and other components connected to your power meter. Conduit containing the wires connecting your panels together may be run across your roof line, so use extra caution when navigating these safety hazards. You should avoid using a pressure washer, as high-water pressure could damage the integrity of your solar panels. Also, do not use any harsh scrubbers, metal tools or acidic cleaning solutions, as these could damage the surface of your panels as well.
How often do I need to clean my solar panels?
On average, solar panels will need to be cleaned only once or twice per year. Rainfall likely will wash away most of the dirt and debris from your panels, but it likely can’t remove all that buildup. You might need to clean more often if you live in a dry climate or near a pollution source, or if your panels are mounted flat.
The good news is that manually washing your solar panels more frequently will not harm them if done properly, so clean away!
How do I clean my solar panels in different seasons?
Different seasons bring their own weather challenges for your solar energy system. Let’s discuss how to keep them clean in different weather conditions:
Spring can bring a lot of pollen, dust and bird droppings. This debris can often build up and stay on your solar panels even after it rains, requiring a little bit of extra cleaning to remove.
During the fall, you’ll often see leaves on your solar panels from any trees around your house. This could impact your solar system’s performance. We recommend cleaning your solar panels to remove any leaves. However, you should avoid rakes and other abrasive tools on the surface of your panels. Instead, opt for softer leaf-cleaning solutions, such as a brush or a leaf blower.
Snow and ice are the most common causes of why you could lose some solar panel production in the winter. Since the sun normally melts the snow, much of the work will be done for you. If you still notice snow on your solar panels after a few days, then feel free to use a broom or soft snow rake. Do not scrape frozen snow or ice off your panels, as that can scratch the glass surface of the panels. Let the sun do its job.
Is solar panel cleaning worth it?
With all things considered, yes it is. Cleaning can help return your solar panels to maximum efficiency when dirt and debris build up, but it’s likely only necessary once or twice per year.
In addition to cleaning your solar panels to maintain peak production levels, it also makes sense to similarly invest in maximizing the energy efficiency of your home when adding solar. At POWERHOME SOLAR, we offer blown insulation, LED light bulbs and more as part of a package that can potentially offset up to 25% of your home’s electrical costs. This allows you to maximize the energy produced by your solar energy system.
POWERHOME SOLAR’s premium solar panels
Cleaning your panel system doesn’t need to be a chore. At POWERHOME SOLAR, we offer premium, monocrystalline solar panels that can deliver maximum efficiency year-round, no matter the climate. Request a free quote to learn more about going solar in your area.