How Can I Clean My Solar Panels?

How to clean solar panels

The United States has, by far, the highest installed solar capacity in the North American continent. Pew Research Center says solar adoption rates among residences have increased by 34% from 2020 to 2021, which can partly be attributed to the provision of a 30% solar tax credit. Meanwhile, Germany leads Europe when it comes to residential solar adoption rates, with an adoption rate of around 11%. This is thanks to government incentives for solar deployment and the high penetration of solar panel companies.

Solar panels may be durable, but like any other technology, they require regular maintenance in order to function properly for a long time. This article will thus discuss the importance of cleaning solar panels, while also providing a guide to safe and proper cleaning.

Importance of cleaning solar panels

When dust, dirt, and other particles from pollution accumulate on the glass surface of solar panels, this can obscure light and thus limit the performance of photovoltaic systems.

This phenomenon is called ‘soiling.’ A previous article on ‘Dust as an Environmental Hazard’ for solar energy states that soiling negatively affects energy production. When solar panels are not cleaned regularly, moderate soiling can result in a 30% energy yield loss per year.

The longer you leave your solar panels soiled, the higher it drives up the cost of energy production and maintenance. In addition, organic materials such as bird droppings and dried leaves can cause surface damage and shorten the lifespan of your panels. Repairs can be costly, so it’s important to regularly clean and maintain your systems to save costs in the long run.

A guide to safe solar panel cleaning

Do dirty solar panels generate electricity?

Although dirty solar panels can still generate electricity, there is a significant reduction in the efficiency of photovoltaic (PV) panels, as mentioned above. This translates into a decline in the amount of power produced, thereby defeating the purpose of harnessing solar power for higher energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness. While the amount of soiling in a specific location cannot be predicted, it’s generally best to clean the solar panels regularly to minimize reduced efficiency, performance, and reliability over time.

What is the best thing to clean solar panels with?

In any case, non-abrasive cleaning instruments like brushes, sponges, and microfiber cloth can be used in order to avoid scratching the panels’ surface. However, manual cleaning of solar panels can also get tedious and hazardous, especially when the panels are tilted and placed on hard-to-access areas like rooftops. Instead of risking their safety and efficiency, homeowners can speed up the cleaning and maintenance process by investing in service robots dedicated to solar panels.

Robot Pet Friends states that service robots, which assist with a wide range of tasks, including cleaning, have been rising in demand. The industry reported a market value of $36.2 billion in 2021, as homes and businesses are realizing that robots drive high returns in productivity and efficiency.

Modern robot cleaners are lightweight and easy to use, and they can do the job on their own with minimal effort from the owner’s end. Interesting Engineering highlights a robot cleaner that even comes with automated solutions and artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Its AI-powered tool can gather surveillance data while cleaning, providing users with the information needed for optimal and preventive maintenance.

What water is used to clean solar panels?

Rather than using rainwater or tap water which can still soil solar panels, use potable water to clean the panels correctly and effectively. Make sure that the water’s temperature does not greatly differ from that of the panels since a high-temperature difference can make it more likely for the glass to crack suddenly. If you’re using a water hose, remember to use normal pressure, as high-pressure cleaning can also create fine cracks in the surface and eventually cause energy efficiency problems.

Can you use chemicals to clean solar panels?

Most people use soaps and detergents when cleaning all kinds of surfaces and areas, but this shouldn’t apply to solar panels. The harsh chemicals from these products do not only damage the sensitive material panels. They can also leave a layer of film or residue on the surface, encouraging dirt and grime to build up faster.

You can instead opt for clean water and a biodegradable cleaning solution to ensure you keep the solar panels intact. While there are solutions specially designed for solar panels available on the market, you can also make a safe and sustainable formulation on your own. Solar panel experts recommend using vinegar diluted with water and any non-abrasive soap. This also applies to owners who use cleaning robots, as there are models with a built-in water tank and sprayer to which you can add the cleaning solution.

How often should you clean solar panels?

Even before you notice a decline in your solar panels’ energy efficiency, try to schedule a proper cleaning session every six months. It’s advisable to do it during the spring season, in order to avoid extreme heat from the summer months and harsh snow from winter. The end of autumn is then optimal for cleaning away dirt, pollen, bird droppings, and other residues that have accumulated over the months.

Meanwhile, the best time of the day to clean the solar panels is in the morning or early evening when the weather gets cooler. Avoid doing it in the afternoon as you can get burned by the peak of the sun; the cleaning solution might evaporate faster than you can wipe the panels, too.

In summary, cleaning is an important aspect of maintaining solar panels and ensuring efficient energy production. It is important for owners to follow safe and proper cleaning methods in order to avoid injuries and damage to the solar panel itself.

Written by Ally Margery Coles
Exclusive for

Did you know?

Solar Edition publishes the top 10 best solar panels monthly since 2019. In addition to this, we also publish a top 10 72 cells solar panels for industrial scale every quarterly (Q1,2,3,4).

We also publish a list of top 10 wind turbine generators on our second website windedition, dedicated to Wind energy topic.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.