Yes, solar panels need cleaning after all they are exposed to harsh weather climate conditions, dust, and other things. For some people, the mere thought of cleaning the panels seems like a huge task, and it is acceptable if you have a large rooftop solar panel system. Plus, cleaning solar panels is not the same as cleaning your glass window. Panels are the face and main element of your solar panel systems thus, need to be handled with care while cleaning. Come find out the various benefits of cleaning solar panels. Do solar panels have self cleaning? I think, so they do, why not take a look yourself? Let’s first start by answering is it good to clean solar panels.
Benefits of Cleaning Solar Panels
Solar panels have a lifespan of about 19 – 30 years depending on the type of solar panel. But do not expect your solar panels to last for that time period with the same productivity and efficiency levels if not maintained properly. Yes, it is good to clean solar panels to enjoy their benefits for long periods without any hindrances and the need of replacing them. Take a look at the following benefits of cleaning solar panels.
1. Aesthetic Appeal
A house with dirty, old-looking, and stained solar panels, imagine this scenario. Unappealing, right? Of course, it gives a ragged look to the house, and no one wants this. Regular and proper cleaning of solar panels keeps their surfaces clean and shiny, giving your house a more aesthetic appeal.
2. Improve Efficiency
An increase in efficiency of commercial arrays by up to 60% and in residential arrays by up to 21% with proper cleaning of solar panels, is noticed. Solar panel systems are susceptible to efficiency loss over time but with improper care and maintenance, your solar panels may degrade way sooner.
3. Improve ROI Time
Return of Investment or ROI time is the period guaranteed to you by the installer. Obviously, you invested a large sum of money in installing solar panels and want your return as soon as possible. But how does your utility bill go down if your panels are dirty and not generating enough power for your house? Therefore, cleaning your panels will improve their efficiency, and you will soon get your complete ROI.
4. Increase Durability
Yes, solar panels are durable, but their surface is sensitive to coarse things, and this can result in low efficiency. Panels need to be cleaned with a soft cloth or sponge to avoid scratches and increase longevity and better output of the panels. Panels PV cells are susceptible to wear and tear by continuous interaction with dust, debris, soft sand grains, and other particles. This is not a short-term defect, but it appears over time. This decreases the efficiency of panels and even reduces their lifespan.
5. Peace of Mind
After spending your money and time on installing solar panels, who would not want peace of mind? While cleaning the panels you get a chance to inspect them and their wiring as well. It is the perfect time to inspect and evaluate the physical condition of solar panels and take necessary actions if required. Another benefit of cleaning solar panels is that you will not be stressed about what is the matter behind such low efficiency of panels, why did I invest when there is no benefit, when did that panel broke, or many such issues.
6. Prevents Permanent Stains and Scratch
Cleaning solar panels help keep them stain and scratch-free, which is an essential determinant in maintaining their efficiency. Accumulated bird droppings, plant sap, rainwater, and other things on the surface of solar panels stain it. Without regular cleaning, these stains may become permanent stains that act like shades on the panels. And shaded panels do not work as efficiently as before. Also, rash cleaning to remove these stains may leave scratch marks on the PV surface, reducing its efficiency further.
7. Saves Money
Regular cleaning and proper maintenance of PV panels reduce the chances of degradation and replacement of panels. This surely saves you from any extra expenses. After all, solar panels come with a minimum warranty of 15 – 19 years and with proper cleaning their condition can be maintained. And you know what properly maintained PV panel and system lasts longer with adequate efficiency levels even after the end of warranty periods.
Did you read the contract carefully where cleaning is a warranty condition? Many solar panel installation companies and manufacturers specify this in the warranty section. If your panels show signs of irregular or no cleaning, they will not be covered by the warranty. Even if there is a malfunction not because of dirty panels (which is rare), the company will not take charge to fix it, and you will have to pay for the services and equipment to get it fixed. Thus, regularly cleaned and maintained solar panels enjoy at least 2 decades of power and product warranty. How can you neglect these benefits of cleaning solar panels and especially the warranty one? After this, let’s see should you get your solar panels cleaned.
Note: The time period of the product and power warranty depends on the place, manufacturers, company, and supplier.
Also See: How Solar Panels Work Step By Step
Should You Get Your Solar Panels Cleaned?
Of course, it is good and in the same manner as it is to wash your vehicle. You sit inside the car not outside but still, you take you for a car wash once in a while. Why do you do so? To maintain its exterior and to prevent dust and debris from entering the machinery in the bonnet. The same is the case with solar panels, they may seem durable and can withstand harsh temperatures, storms, rain, hail, and other situations. But still over time rainwater, dust, animal droppings, and other pollutants seep, or find their way toward the back of the panels. This can clearly damage and reduce the output of the panels. Now that you have learned should you get your solar panels cleaned, let’s also see when should solar panels be cleaned?
When Should Solar Panels Be Cleaned?
Generally, every 6 months to 1-year solar panels should be cleaned. Over time, airborne dust particles, sticky plant & tree sap, animal droppings, soot, and lichen are all contributors to dirty solar panels. All this creates shading on solar panels, which results in less area for sunlight absorption. Further, your solar panels will have poor performance with low efficiency along with a loss of financial return for both owner and investor. Some situations indicating when should solar panels be cleaned are as follows:
- Low efficiency
- Reduction in overall system performance
- Staining on panels
The best time to clean your solar panels is early morning or late afternoon, or you can do this on overcast days. With the strong sun shining above your head, all the water and cleaning supplies will dry and evaporate quickly, resulting in more labor and less result. Personally speaking, early morning is a good time because morning dew softened the grime which will now be easily removed.
Based on local conditions, you can choose any of the following cleaning schedules to enjoy the benefits of cleaning solar panels.
- At the end of Fall (Autumn)
- In arid regions, people prefer cleaning the panels during the driest time of the year to clean dust buildups.
- In late spring when pollen counts drop.
- In northern climates, cleaning the panels after the snow season
Also Read: How to Choose Solar Panels for Food Truck
Do Solar Panels Have Self Cleaning?
After learning is it good to clean solar panels, let’s also learn do solar panels have self-cleaning. Yes, most places now have self-cleaning panels that protect the surface with a hydrophobic coating. This coating prevents water droplets from sticking to the surface of panels, reducing the gradual buildup of minerals on PV cell surfaces. Any dust particles on the surface slip down with the water droplets. But this is not essential enough for all locations, especially with increased pollution and dust.
Also See: Do Solar Lights Attract Bugs?
How to Clean Your Solar Panels
Before you start the cleaning process, take a look at the rules for cleaning solar panels. Shut down the system completely; both AC and DC isolators should be off.
Preferably clean the panels from the ground if in range. Otherwise, use tools with extensions to reach the surface. Make sure the tool has a soft brush with a squeegee for smooth cleaning. Apply soft washing chemicals to the panels to avoid scratching them. Good water pressure with a suitable nozzle to rinse off the soap. Water pressure should not be too strong to avoid damage to the seams.
If cleaning from the ground is not possible, use lengthy and suitable extensions. It is recommended to call local services for this job, like your local house cleaning companies. They are equipped with the required tools and ways to clean.
What Precautions Should You Take While Cleaning Solar Panels?
Now that you understand the benefits of cleaning solar panels, take a look at the precautions to be followed while cleaning solar panels.
1. Avoid Abrasive Materials
Such materials should be avoided as they are likely to scratch the surface of panels and damage them. A soft brush is recommended, combined with a Squeegee and a water-fed pole. Use a hose with a low-pressure setting for water, scrub off the dirt with a soft brush, and use a Squeegee to dry the surface.
2. Avoid Pressured Water and Hard Water
Washing off the dirt may be easy and quick with high-pressure water flow, but this may damage the silicone seams of the panels. After which water may seep into places where it may damage the entire system. Hard water here refers to mineral-rich water that can damage the panels. In such a case, use distilled water or a whole-house water softener to clean the panels.
3. Avoid Cleaning on Hot Days
Cleaning your solar panels on a hot day may not be a good idea because it will leave smudges all over the panel. This happens due to the speedy evaporation of water from the panels.
So, what are the benefits of cleaning solar panels? The answer to this is increased efficiency, no problems in warranty coverage, and better productivity, with improved durability. No permanent stains or scratches, and excess expenses can be avoided, in addition. Not just this, as you get timely ROI, increased aesthetic appeal of the house. And above all peace of mind that your solar panel system is working to the best possible efficiency. The panels will continue to work for more years to come. Now, if someone asks if you should get your solar panels cleaned, you know the answer as well as you can spread the word for the same.