Keeping solar panels clean is important and simple to do. The U.S. Department of Energy advises that cleaning solar panels can significantly increase the amount of the sun’s energy they can collect. The good news is that you don’t need a solar panel maintenance checklist. There are only a few essentials you need to know about how to clean and maintain solar panels. The great news is that you can probably easily take care of these on your own without any outside help.
Click to jump to section:
How Often Should I Clean My Solar Panels?
Having an official solar panel maintenance schedule is not necessary because there’s nothing you’ll need to maintain other than an occasional light cleaning. The most efficient plan is simply to clean the panels as needed. How often you will need to clean your solar panels depends on your climate region and the specific area you live in. But, generally, late spring or during the summer is recommended after pollen has settled.
Additionally, check your solar power monitoring system routinely. It will indicate when your panels are underperforming. When that occurs, the first thing to check is the cleanliness of the panel surfaces to see if they need cleaning in order to receive enough sunlight to produce at your normal rates.
What You Need for Cleaning Solar Panels
You may already have all the items you need to do a good job cleaning your solar panels. Or, you can buy a solar panel cleaning kit that includes everything you’ll need:
- Container filled with soapy water
- Water hose with a spray nozzle
- Small soft cleaning brush
- Small soft cleaning brush with a long handle
- Squeegee or a window cleaning cloth on a handle
What you’ll find in stores in the general cleaning products aisle is just as good as what you can expect to buy in a solar panel cleaning kit.
Before Cleaning Solar Panels
Here are a few things you need to do before you begin cleaning your solar panels:
- Follow Manufacturer’s Instructions: Check with your manufacturer to see if there are any specific instructions required for cleaning or maintaining your particular solar panels.
- Clean Cool Panel Surfaces: Choose a day with cool temperatures or early morning hours for cleaning solar panels because they can heat fast in direct sunlight.
- Do Not Step on Solar Panels: Stepping or standing on solar panels can cause tiny cracks in the panels. For panels that are too hard to reach, you may need a professional to do the cleaning.
- Make Safety Your Top Priority: Use a cleaning tool with a long handle instead of climbing to reach higher spots on the solar panels. If your roof is steeply pitched or is higher than one story, or has fragile wood shakes or tiles, consider hiring a professional to clean your solar panels.
How to Clean Solar Panels
Solar panels are made of highly durable tempered glass, and they don’t have any moving parts. So, they don’t require much maintenance, except occasional cleaning. Dirty solar panels are much less productive in collecting energy from the sun. Some research indicates that clean solar panels are up to 25 percent more effective than dirty ones.
Determine whether your solar panels need to be cleaned.
If the solar panels look very dirty or your solar output monitoring system indicates they are under-producing even though it’s sunny outside, it’s probably time to clean the panels.
Choose the right solar panel cleaning tools and supplies.
Use a soap that does not leave a residue. Standard liquid detergents work as well as expensive solar panel cleaning products. Choose castile soap or other environmentally-friendly products.
Remove loose dirt and debris from solar panels first.
First, use a soft, dry cleaning brush to remove leaves, twigs, pollen, dirt, and other loose material from the panels. Brush gently to avoid scratching the panels.
Wash the solar panels with a gentle soap solution.
Use a soft scrub brush and soapy water to clean the solar panels gently. Use your handheld brush for areas you can easily reach and the long-handle brush for high areas.
Spray rinse your solar panels.
Spray the solar panels with the water hose spray nozzle to rinse away soap and dirt. Do not pressure wash solar panels because the force can potentially damage the panels.
Dry the solar panels.
After washing and rinsing the solar panels, use a micro-fiber window cleaning cloth or squeegee to dry the panels.
Check your solar panel energy output after cleaning.
After you clean your solar panels, look for an increase in the amount of energy your panels are producing. If there is no increase, ensure that there is no soap or dirt residue on the panels.
Solar Panel Maintenance
To get the most from your residential solar energy system, just plan to keep the panels clean and monitor the output. Other than occasional cleaning, modern PV equipment is virtually maintenance-free throughout the life of the system. That means the solar panel maintenance cost is negligible, just for a few basic cleaning supplies. If you do find a need for attention to the equipment, contact your manufacturer for professional servicing.
Complete Solar Panel Service From Solarise Solar
Solarise has helped many thousands of Colorado homeowners and businesses get the best value in solar panel systems and installation. We customize your solar energy system for your specific needs, home, and budget.