How to Clean Solar Panels for Better Efficiency
Solar panels are exposed to the elements including the sun, wind and debris including bird droppings, dust, leaves and more. While solar panels are generally maintenance free, there may come a time when you will need to clean them. When debris are heavy enough to block natural sunlight, it is plausible that those obstructions can result in reduced power levels from the solar panels.
Before you try to climb up onto your roof to clean your solar panels, you need to look over the specifications from the manufacturer. If you live in an area where there is heavy dust or where there are heavy winds to blow leaves from trees near your home and other debris onto the roof, you may need to clean your solar panels more frequently than in areas where the wind is calm and there isn’t much dust to worry about.
If your panels are not on the ground, do not climb onto the roof unless you are fully trained and have the proper safety equipment to prevent falls and stay safe. If you have not been trained, you should call a licensed professional instead of doing it on your own.
Cleaning Your Solar Panels
Depending on your local climate, rain and snowfall can help wash away dirt, bird droppings and other debris that has landed on the solar panels. For those in dry, dusty areas, frequent cleaning may be necessary.
If you have solar panels that are mounted on the ground, you’re in luck because they are easy to access and clean regularly. For solar panels that are mounted on the roof, precautions need to be taken for safety reasons.
If you are planning to clean your solar panels on your own, you need to keep some important tips in mind to stay safe. Those include:
1. Keep Your Feet on The Ground
It’s best to use a high-pressure water hose to clean the solar panels and if possible, stay on the ground and avoid climbing onto the roof.
2. Use a Water Softener
If the water from your tap is hard, it’s a good idea to purchase a water softening hose that will help keep the harsh residue from landing on the panels as you clean them. Hard water has minerals that can damage solar panels over time as they will stick to them.
3. Use Proper Personal Protection
If you must climb a ladder and get on the roof, be sure to use the right equipment to do so. This includes a sturdy ladder as well as rugged gloves that will enhance your grip as you climb. A good pair of work gloves can help you hold onto the ladder and can also help keep your hands protected as you clean (see: BulkNitrileGloves.com). You should also wear slip-resistant shoes to prevent slipping form the ladder or the roof.
4. Shut It Down
Before you begin to clean solar panels, you need to shut down the system to keep it safe. If you don’t know how to shut your system off, you need to contact your installer or read your manual.
5. The Right Time
If you are going to try to clean your solar panels on your own, try to schedule a cleaning time either early in the morning or in the late evening when the sun is not blaring down on them. Not only will this help prevent you from burning yourself on hot panels, but it also prevents sudsy water from evaporating and leaving soapy dirt streaks all over the panels.
While you may worry about whether your panels need to be cleaned, chances are they will be fine without manually cleaning. In most cases, with enough rainfall or snow to flush away debris, nature alone will do the tough work and keep the panels clean all year long.
By Tom Masters