Once you have installed solar panels on your home to provide power for some or all your home's electrical needs, you will want to keep them well-maintained and clean so they can continue to work as well as possible. Dirt, leaves, snowfall, and other build-up can accumulate on your panels, and an effective cleaning routine will keep them working their best to produce electricity for your home. Here are some tips to help you keep your solar panels clean all year.
Solar Panel Cleaning
Because your solar panels only work well if they can receive direct rays from the sun, it is important to keep them clean and free of debris and build-up. Materials, such as bird droppings, leaves, dirt, and snow in the winter can accumulate on the surface of your panels and negatively affect their power collection and production. There can be more air pollution leading to more accumulation on your panels during the winter, so you should consider cleaning them at least each spring.
You can clean your panels yourself, or hire a professional to clean them, especially if you don't have a way to safely access your roof. It has been found that by cleaning your panels professionally once or twice a year can increase their output of electricity by an average of 12 percent. Assuming that your solar panels will be cleaned from any rainfall is not a wise assumption, as rainfall is not sufficient to remove all the debris and you will lose out on solar power-produced energy.
If you choose to clean your panels yourself, there are some cleaning rules you should consider. First, the time of day you clean them is very important. As the panels will get quite hot under the sun's rays, early morning is the best time to clean them before they are hot from the sun. In the early morning hours, the residue on your panels will have become softened by any dew left on them, which can help make cleaning them easier.
Next, use clean water to rinse the panels to remove large debris, then wipe them using water and a coarse cloth, a soft brush, or a plastic scrubber on more difficult spots. Don't use any detergents or abrasive cleaners, as they clean leave streaks and cause scratches over the surface of your panels. If your home has hard water, be sure to use a squeegee to dry the panels when you are finished cleaning. Hard water left to dry on your solar panels will leave behind mineral deposits which can reduce your panels' efficiency.
If you live in a climate that has snowfall in the winter, you will need to have a plan to remove any snow accumulation over your solar panels. Many panels are installed on your home at an angle to allow the snow to naturally slide off your panels. Heavy snowfall and lower temperatures can cause snowfall to not melt immediately and fall from your panels, so you will need to manually clean the panels to restore your home's availability to solar power. If your panels are blocked by snowfall, they will not produce any solar power.
There are a few different options to try for cleaning your solar panels of snowfall. First, you can use a roof rake or similar long-handled push broom to reach your panels from the safety of the ground and push the snow from your panels. Be careful when using a roof rake that you don't scratch the panels or pull any wiring loose, which will cause them not to work. You can also consider hiring a professional to remove the snow from the roof panels, as they will have access to the appropriate safety equipment to not fall from your roof.
If you are normally able to clean your roof solar panels safely from the ground after each snow storm and are only able to remove snow from a few of your home's solar panels, there is a solution for this. Most solar panel systems will not produce any power if any of the panels are obstructed from receiving sunlight. So, for example if you have ten solar panels on your roof and you are only able to clean snow from five of them, your entire system will not produce electricity. Microinverters installed on your panels can be a solution to this, as they will allow each panel to work at its highest possible output regardless of what the other panels on the system are working at.
Use these tips to help you keep your solar panels cleaned and maintained to work as well as possible.