Solar Panel Cleaning: Why Maintenance Is Crucial
Solar panels can be a great investment, especially in Texas, where we get so much sunshine. Installing solar panels can give you renewable energy for many years to come, but how much maintenance do they need? Here’s why cleaning and maintaining your solar panels is essential to keep them working.
Do Solar Panels Require Maintenance?
Typically, solar panels don’t require too much maintenance in order to function correctly. The only thing you usually have to do is give them a light, periodic cleaning to make sure things like dirt, debris, and leaves aren’t blocking the sun’s rays from hitting your panels. The only time that your solar panels might require more extensive maintenance is during times of heavy snowfall or if you notice that their energy output starts to go down.
How Do You Maintain Your Solar Panels?
If you have titled, rather than flat, solar panels, then you’re in luck -- the rain will actually help clear away debris that accumulates on the panels. However, during periods without rain and dry seasons, it’s important to clean them manually. We recommend cleaning your solar panels anywhere between two and four times each year to keep them working properly. Luckily, cleaning your solar panels doesn’t take too much work.
If you have flat solar panels, you’ll probably end up cleaning them more often -- water can pool on them, and it has nowhere to go. Eventually, that water will evaporate and leave behind grime. Even worse, leaves and other debris can end up on your solar panels and just lay there, which seriously affects their performance. The grime can still let most of the light through, but leaves are a bigger problem; they are designed to capture light -- after all, leaves are basically a naturally occurring solar panel.
Because of these problems, when installing solar panels on a flat roof, it’s important to put them in frames that tilt the panels at least ten degrees. If they’re not tilted, you’ll have no choice but to regularly clean them to keep up their performance. Tilted panels can function well without normal cleanings, but flat ones require maintenance to keep their output high.
How to Clean Your Solar Panels
Cleaning your panels isn’t too costly, and it’s not a complicated process. If your panels aren’t too dirty and need more of a good dusting than cleaning, you can try hosing them off from the ground. It’s the easiest and safest solution to try first -- you lose nothing by trying this method out and seeing if it adequately cleans your solar panels. But, when hosing off your solar panels, make sure not to use a high-pressure nozzle (or pressure washer); this could scratch the panel’s surface, and those tiny scratches can permanently decrease your solar panel’s energy output.
If you have heavier buildup on your solar panels, you can use a soft brush, squeegee, hose, and a bucket of soapy water made with mild soap to clean them. If hosing off your solar panels wasn’t enough, here’s what to try next:
- Fill a bucket with clean, warm (not hot) water and mix in a small amount of mild soap.
- Rinse off your solar panels with a hose.
- Using a soft scrubber brush and your soapy water, gently wash your solar panel’s surface.
- Rinse them again with your hose.
- Use your squeegee to dry the solar panels.
- Repeat the process until all of your solar panels are clean.
When cleaning your solar panels, it’s important to remember that they can get hot in the middle of the day -- it’s best to try to clean them at dawn, dusk, or on days that are overcast. If you try to clean your solar panels will soapy water while they are hot, the water can evaporate and create a film that would require a lot of additional cleaning to remove.
Professional Solar Panel Cleaning
Sometimes it’s safer, easier, and even cheaper to let a professional take care of cleaning your solar panels. Maybe you don’t have the resources or time to tackle the job yourself, or maybe you’ve realized that:
- Your roof is too steep, high, or slippery to reach your solar panels easily.
- You don’t have the cleaning tools or gear to clean your solar panels, and you don’t want to purchase and store them just to clean your solar panels every once in a while.
- You don’t like the idea of climbing ladders or walking on rooftops.
- You don’t want to deal with the hassle of cleaning your solar panels.
For most people with solar panels, professional cleaning is the most worthwhile option.
Are you looking for a reliable solar panel cleaning service? See what sets Shine apart! We have solar panel cleaning experts in Dallas as well as gutter cleaners in Austin Texas.
Solar Panel Cleaning Tip
Here are a few tips to keep your solar panels performing correctly:
- Never use abrasive soap or sponges to clean your solar panels; this can scratch the glass. The best way to clean them is with soft rags or brushes and biodegradable soap.
- Don’t use any harsh materials when cleaning your solar panels; they can cause damage that requires you to repair or replace the panels.
- If you don’t have to get onto your roof, don’t. You can find long-handled brushes and squeegees to try and perform the whole cleaning from the ground.
- If you absolutely have to climb on the roof to clean your solar panels, take safety precautions by using things like a harness or safety ropes for support.
- Clean your solar panels early in the morning or evening when they are cool to avoid damaging them during the heat of the day.
- Solar panels are typically pretty durable, but be careful if you decide to use a high-pressure nozzle to spray them down -- you could cause damage.
How Do I Know If It’s Time to Clean My Solar Panels?
It’s a good idea to perform a visual inspection each month to check for any dirt or debris buildup on your solar panels. You should also watch your electric bill to look for any drops in efficiency. If you need to clean your solar panels but are worried about exposing yourself to risks or damaging your panels, you can always call the professionals.
You don’t have to tackle all of your cleaning projects by yourself. Get in touch with Shine of Austin or Shine of Dallas and see how we make your windows, patios, solar panels, home, and more shine!