How to clean solar panels: DIY step-by-step guide
- 24 Aug 2023
- 5 min
For your solar panels to run efficiently, you have to clean them every once in a while. But don’t get frustrated! It’s an easy job, especially with our guide on how to clean solar panels DIY.
Rain alone is not enough
To clean, or not to clean – that is the question solar panel owners often ask. While rainwater can provide a basic level of cleaning, rain alone can’t remove all dirt and dust, not to mention stubborn stains. In areas where rainwater has a high mineral content, rain leaves behind mineral deposits on the surface. All these can partially block sunlight and reduce panels’ energy generating capacity. So, how to clean solar panels yourself?
Dirty solar panels generate 25% less energy
Step 1: Check the weather
Don’t wash your solar panels on a hot sunny day. Solar panels heat up like a frying pan and can simply crack even from lukewarm water. Plan your cleaning on a cool cloudy day, in the early morning, or in the late afternoon, when the panels are not as hot. If rain is in the forecast – even better, let it do the hard work for you.
Step 2: Think about safety
Turn your solar panels off before cleaning to prevent electrical shock. If your solar panels are on the roof, the best and safest way to clean them is from the ground, using a long pole with a brush or cloth. If you prefer cleaning from a ladder or climbing on the roof, be especially careful, make sure your shoes are not slippery, and consider using a safety harness to prevent falls. Do not step on the panels to avoid any damage to them.
Step 3: Prepare the equipment
Your cleaning kit can include a garden hose, leaf blower, soft cloth, brush with gentle bristles, mild cleaning agents, and a squeegee. Never use a pressure hose, rough materials, or abrasive cleaners that can scratch or damage the panel’s surface. Do not use cold water on hot panels and the other way around because the temperature difference can cause the panels to crack.
Avoid using soap! It leaves film or residue that increases reflectivity of panels and makes it easier for dirt to stick.
Step 4: Proceed to cleaning
First, blow or carefully swipe loose debris like fallen twigs and leaves. Then hose the remaining dirt and dust down with water. If there are any stubborn stains or dirt left, remove them with a brush and cloth, using a cleaning agent if needed. After that, thoroughly rinse the panels with clean water. Ensure all cleaning agents are completely removed. Then you may dry the panels out with a squeegee or cloth.
Step 5: Wait for the panels to get completely dry
Give your solar panels about half an hour to get completely dry. Turn the system back on and that’s the end of your DIY solar panel cleaning
While on the roof, you can also inspect your panels. Since they are clean, it will be much easier to do.
Inspect your panels for defects such as cracks, chips, and discoloration. Check the electrical wiring and connections. Take a look at the system’s performance to assess the output and identify any significant deviations from the expected energy generation. This can help detect and prevent issues before they become more severe or costly. If you notice any problem, call in an expert.
Inspect your panels every 1–2 years
Clean solar panels every 6 to 12 months
In general, it’s recommended to clean solar panels every 6 to 12 months, even if they appear visually clean. In heavily polluted, dusty, or high bird activity areas, as well as during the dry seasons, more frequent cleaning may be required. Visible dirt accumulation and reduced energy generation are the clearest signs that your solar panels need a decent wash.
All this sounds like a big deal, but it’s not. In most cases, solar panels are not that dirty and do not need such thorough washing. Even occasional cleaning with a leaf blower or water hose while watering your garden may be enough to keep solar panels clean. For more information about cleaning, read our article on how to clean solar panels properly.
A few words about snow
As for the snow, the best way to get it off is to let the sun and gravity do their job. Once the sun comes out, panels start working and heat up. In an hour or two, the snow will slide down, providing a convenient and free cleaning service. If you can’t wait to remove snow from your panels, check out our guide on how to clean snow off solar panels yourself.
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