clean solar panels

Do You Need to Clean Your Solar Panels?

You made an investment into something that promises to give you significant savings over the next few years. This investment has taken time, but now that it’s up there, you want to maximize how much of it you get. A solar panel is something that every person should have on their roof, not just something to study and fantasize about.

However, it’s not just as easy as getting professionals to install them at your house and you forget about them. While they are up there, they are in the face of everything that the wind can carry. Whether it is layers of dust, pollen, leaves, carelessly disposed plastics, or even paper, the wind is notorious for carrying stuff to your roof.

All this stuff may end up coating your solar panels. Since the panels rely on the energy of the sun to produce power, having something blocking this access could mean that the panels are not as effective as they can be.

Keeping your solar panels clean means that you get the best out of them. This was best illustrated by Google. They conducted an experiment on their solar firm in California and the conclusion was astounding. For panels that had been in operation for more than a year, keeping them clean had seen them double their electricity output.

If you were to do the same, imagine how much savings you would be making every year.

For you who haven’t done it before, there are a lot of questions swirling around your head at the moment. Here are a few answers to what you may be thinking about.


What is the best way to clean solar panels?

The positioning of your panels is greatly influenced by the kind of home, or structure that they are producing power for. For many homes, their placement on the roof can be a bit daunting for the average homeowner. Getting up on the roof to clean can mean having to call in a professional to handle it.

If you, however, know how to get yourself up there, you will only need a couple of tools to get this done. You will simply need a hose and a bucket or a spray bottle with warm soapy water in it.

You can look at the grime that has collected on the panels and decide for yourself what kind of effort needs to be put in. Some panels may have just accumulated a thin film of dust. In this case, simply hosing down the panels is a quick and easy way to get them clean. If you have access to them, you can give them a pat dry just to keep them looking spick and span.

If, however, there are some bits of tough grime, you will need to break out the warm soapy water and a soft cloth. Bird droppings are notorious for drying on the panels and leaving stains behind. If you are beneath an air corridor, oil from passing aircraft could make it onto your panels.

A good wipe down with the warm soapy water is all you will need to handle the toughest of grime on your panels.  


Does cleaning solar panels make a difference?

Solar panels are designed to be very efficient. Whenever grime begins to accumulate on the panel, this would hardly cause any differences in the amount of light that the panel will receive. It will still continue working optimally. A study conducted by the University of San Diego came to the conclusion that a dust film will cause less than 0.05 percent loss in power production.

The difference comes when you neglect cleaning your panels, and then something more opaque falls and accumulates on them. These include things like paper, plastics, leaves, and other stuff. Whenever these accumulate on your panel, yes, they can affect how much power they put out.

Cleaning your panels at this point is just a matter of keeping things clean and tidy around your space. This also goes for larger systems that produce more power. The cost of the amount of power you will be losing may not be worth having to hire a professional to get the cleaning done.


Can you use a pressure washer to clean solar panels?

Pressure washers are awesome. They are great at blasting grime off the side of your home and your car. They are great at getting water to the far off reaches of places that you probably wouldn’t reach. So, they would make great sense to use them to clean your solar panels, right?

Don’t you dare.

While it may work great at blasting off the grime from the panels, the force of the pressure wash may force themselves underneath the seals of the aluminum and the glass. This in turn will end up weakening the seals even further, allowing for debris and rainwater to get away into the solar panels.

You can just imagine the things that can go wrong from this point.


Can you clean solar panels with Windex?

Windex has been a household name for many years when it comes to getting your windows and other surfaces sparkling clean. It only figures that you would attempt to use it on your solar panels to get them looking all sparkly. Although that sounds good on paper, it really shouldn’t be something that you do.

Solar panels are constructed with anti-reflective coating on their surfaces. This helps keep the panels from dazzling anything around them and your neighbors from filing complaints. Windex, on the other hand, is a product made with the express purpose of making your surfaces dazzle.

It will destroy this coating in the long run, which will end up affecting the efficiency of the panel. This also could end up voiding your warranty as many manufacturers advise against using Windex.

Can you use vinegar to clean solar panels?

Cleaning around the house has always utilized a number of solutions to help get rid of dirt and grime. While Windex is great around the home, it’s not so great on your solar panels. As an intuitive cleaner, you want to try the next best thing; vinegar.

Vinegar is a great cleaning agent and perhaps the best news for you, you can use it to clean your solar panels. The only catch is that you have to use small quantities of it. If you are going to use a spray bottle, you could mix two cups of water, half a cup of vinegar, and a teaspoon of soap. It would be best if you stay away from detergents as these can leave streaks all across your panels when they dry up.

Vinegar does not have any negative effects on the glass or the coating of the solar panel. This is generally because the concentrations of domestic vinegar are quite low, which takes away most of the risks of using acids.


How often should you wash your solar panels?

Leaving a lot of dirt and grime caking up on your panels could end up affecting the efficiency over a period of time. Even then, it doesn’t mean that you should be up on your ladder every weekend to blast dirt off your panels. How often you should wash them is highly dependent on the weather in your area.

If you live in an area that experiences rainfall on the regular, you may not ever have to go up the roof to clean. This is because sufficient rain is enough to clean the dirt and grime off your panels. The bird droppings that will remain behind will not affect efficiency.

If, however, you do live in a dusty and dry environment, how often you clean will be determined by how much savings you want to make. The typical panel owner will have their panels cleaned twice a year; as both the seasons of summer winter are coming to an end.


Will dirty solar panels work?

Solar panels are built with efficiency in mind. In this way, any amount of sunlight that lands on the panels will be converted to electricity. However, as the glass on the panels keeps getting occluded by dirt, the efficiency of the conversion keeps getting reduced. While this is a gradual process it can affect output if really neglected.

If you were to leave your panels for two good years without cleaning, you will have to contend with a 35 percent energy loss. This could mean significant costs for you in attempting to bridge the power loss.

So, can a dirty solar panel work, absolutely. However, how well it will work is what is constantly in flux depending on how clean they are. The efficiency that your solar panels will give you will determine how much savings you make from the electricity you generate.

This is the major reason why as a solar panel owner, you have to keep them in good condition, including cleaning them periodically. You put them up there to help you save on energy costs. You also have to maintain them.