Solar modules have higher efficiency when exposed to proper sun intensity. After some time, the glass covering the panels is exposed to dirt, bird drops, and all kind of debris. Without significant rainfall or proper maintenance, panels might lower their efficiency from 15% up to 25% due to soiling losses.
Hiring professional cleaners in California can amount to $2,000 over the lifetime of a panel. Cleaning the solar panels regularly is an easy fix to ensure high performance and avoid hiring costs for professional maintenance.
How often should you clean your home solar panels
Solar modules should be cleaned regularly, varying recurrence from place to place. Panels with exposure to sea air need maintenance more often than modules in places with regular rainfalls. Locations like California with dry seasons, require modules maintenance at least every three months when they have lost at least 5% in output efficiency, ensuring high performance.
Cleaning the solar panels: Everything you need to know
Cleaning solar panels like a professional can be quite easy, you just need to put a proper effort and avoid rookie mistakes. Following the detailed instructions on what to do and what to avoid to maintain home solar panels will ensure high performance and avoiding soiling losses.
Best time of the day to clean your solar modules
Solar panels in California weather can easily reach up to 65ºC (149ºF) proving quite problematic to clean at those times. Cleaning experts recommend waiting for late afternoon hours (5:00 p.m. to 06:00 p.m.) to perform maintenance, letting solar panels cool off during the night and cleaning them early morning (06:00 a.m. – 07:00 a.m.) will provide an easier and safer task.
What items should you use when cleaning solar panels
To clean the panels you will need a mixture of soft soap and warm water over a bucket or spray bottle. Also, use a sponge or soft cloth to avoid panel scratches. Consider using a lint-free cloth to dry off the panels and ensure no mineral residues on the glass.
Type of water
Most professionals have strict rules regarding water type used to perform maintenance. The protocol calls for deionized or distilled water, avoiding mineral residue and smear films on top of your modules.
Using tap water is entirely okay as long as you follow time-of-day recommendations. Hosing the panels when they are still hot will cause mineral buildup as water evaporates, lowering the efficiency of the modules by up to 25%.
The cleaning process is quite simple.
- Safely position yourself alongside the panels
- Spray the water and soap solution while gently using the sponge to properly clean every surface on the panel.
- After finishing, pour some clean water over the modules to let the soap run loose.
- Dry the panels with the lint-free cloth to avoid mineral buildups.
Figure 2: Cleaning performance of solar modules – Source: Ecotality
What to avoid
Some people believe using pressurized water is the best way to go. This can prove counterproductive if your panels have any type of dirt or debris that might cause scratch damages on the surface. Using more chemically strong soaps than dishwasher soaps can cause damages when interacting with the panel, causing corrosion and eventually lowering the efficiency of the modules
Always follow proper recommendations to clean your panels. Remember to wait for the right time to do it and avoid using the wrong kind of products at the time of cleaning. If in need, considering hiring professionals from time to time and always check your warranty maintenance-related clauses for your panel before cleaning them.