Solar Panel Cleaning

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How to clean solar panels

When, how and why do you need to clean your solar panels?

Many things in our everyday lives require regular cleaning and care. Understandably, a solar system is no different. Like a car requires a service every 100,000 or so kilometres a solar system requires a clean and service every 6-12 months. Above all, regular solar panel cleaning is vital to the productivity and longevity of every solar system.

As Aussies, we’re no stranger to the Australian climate. So why pretend our solar panels are? Solar panels are left on rooves across Australia to gather dust, collect leaves and animal dropping and brave weather events of all kinds. In other words, your solar panels are likely suffering if you’re trusting the rain to keep them clean.

Does Rain Clean Solar Panels?

Take your car for instance, the rain doesn’t always clear animal droppings or rid the leaves under your bonnet. It’s the same case for your solar panels. However, it’s important to note if someone has told you rain cleans solar panels they are not entirely incorrect.

Most PV solar systems are installed on an incline. This assists in naturally cleaning the panels. When it rains water running down the surface of the panels clear dust. However, this is not always effective in clearing tougher build-up.  

What Causes Panel Build-Up?

Animal-droppings and dried leaves are among the worst culprits of solar panel build-up. They rarely budge with rain. Such build-up, when left untreated can significantly impact solar panel performance.  As a solar user, it’s important to regularly clean and maintain your solar panels. This will prevent the build-up of dirt and grime. This is the easiest and quickest way to increase panel efficiency.

Why Clean Solar Panels?

Dirt and build-up on the face of a solar panel block the photovoltaic cells from sunlight. Thereby stopping them from producing energy for your home. A small amount of dirt or animal droppings on one panel can affect the whole string of solar panels by blocking the current. This can result in a decrease in the whole system’s performance. In this respect, the impact of a tiny piece of dirt cannot be understated.

How to Clean Solar Panels

It’s recommended that you hire a professional to complete the solar panel cleaning. This is because there are many dangers involved with being on top of your roof. You may risk serious injury or damage the panels in the process. It’s best to leave it up to a professional solar panel cleaner that will do a thorough job. Learn more about our maintenance and servicing packages here…

However, if you’d prefer to clean the panels without the help of a professional consider the following steps:

  1. Read the manual: Firstly, review the manufacturers cleaning recommendations. These are easily accessible online or provided in the product manual. This will ensure you don’t void any warranties by conducting solar panel cleaning.
  2. Clean the panels early in the early morning: Solar panels heat up all day in the sun. Consider cleaning them early in the morning when they are cool to the touch. This will prevent burning yourself on the hot surface or damaging the panels. 
  3. Wear a harness: Do not go up on your roof without a harness on. Particularly when soap and water are involved.  
  4. Keep it simple: You can use a bucket, warm water, soft cloth and cleaning solution. Use these tools to lightly wipe the surface of the panels. Doing this should remove built-up dirt and grime.
  5. Use the right products: If you want to use soap or chemicals ensure they are suitable for solar cleaning solar panels. 

Alternatives and preventions to solar panel cleaning

If you’re a busy person or a procrastinator by nature you may rarely get around to solar panel cleaning. However, all is not lost as there are some options to help decrease the build-up of dirt.

  1. Trim Trees: It may be worth trimming any trees or vegetation that overhang the solar system. As this will help prevent the collection of leaves on and under the panels. Additionally, trees that hang over the solar panels are home to pesky birds and possums that leave droppings. Trimming trees will also reduce shading around the panels. Certainly, trimming trees will likely improve the production of the system and reduce the need for regular cleaning.

  • Pest Control: Avoid feeding any wild animals or leaving food outside. This is likely increasing the number of possums and birds near your home. In other words, feeding these animals is an open invitation for them to wreak havoc on your solar panels.

Conclusion

Undoubtedly solar panel cleaning is vital to the performance of your solar system. Opting for solar panel cleaning at least once a year helps keep the solar going and the bills low. It may sound like a nasty chore but next time you take your car to the car wash or for a service consider whether you are showing the same care and general upkeep to your solar panels.

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