Why and How to Clean Your Solar Panels
More and more, people are becoming energy and cost of energy conscious…homeowners are having solar panels installed on their homes. Not only are solar panels become more affordable, but they will lower utility bills, having them installed often offers tax incentives and could help in conquering climate change.
If you have had them installed on your home…
Are your solar panels as efficient as they could be?
Clean or not clean, your solar panels will continue to produce energy, just as they were designed to do. But will they produce it as efficiently and at the maximum rate that the manufacturer said they would? If you’re trying to produce extra energy with your panels, this will be important to you.
Obviously, we’re all aware that solar panels work by allowing light from the sun into solar cells (a very simplistic description!). So, when dirt, debris, dust, pollen, bird droppings or pollution builds up, it blocks the sun’s rays and prevents them from reaching the solar cells…energy production goes down and lowered optimum performance decreases the return on your investment.
According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), at night your solar panels cool down, then in the morning they attract dew. If there is dust and dirt on your panels, together they create a process called cementation, which literally cements the dirt to your panels. It has been estimated that build-up on solar panels can cause energy loss of up to 25%. But on the flip side, if your solar panels are cleaned on a regular basis, your panels would be about 30% more efficient.
You can’t depend on the rain to clean them for you…
The nice thing is that cleaning your solar panels isn’t a high tech process. The real issue is, if you aren’t comfortable or aren’t able to be up on the roof, if that is where your panels are located. If that’s the case, you should hire a professional to do the job for you. But one way or another, those panels should be periodically cleaned.
There are many products on the market to help get your panels cleaned:
- Solar panel cleaning kits that include brushes, squeegees, long-arm handles for easier access – these kits range anywhere from $160 to $350.
- Solar Panel liquid cleaning solution
- There are also solar panel cleaning robots that will clean your panels daily.
One way you can tell if your panels need to be cleaned, without actually climbing up on the roof, is to keep a record of their power output, when it drops quite a bit, it’s time to get them cleaned again.
A couple of warnings…
- Don’t forget, these panels are not indestructible, avoid kneeling, leaning or walking on them. This may seem like common sense but many have done it and many have broken them.
- Along with safety for your solar panels, practice safety for you. If you’re going to get up on the roof to clean them, invest in a harness that you can attach solidly to your roof.
Solar panel manufacturer’s say:
- You should clean your solar panels about every 6 months
- They agree that dirty panels lower energy production
- Some manufacturer’s warranties are invalidated if the panels haven’t been cleaned and maintained
You invested in solar panels for your home for a reason, to produce your own energy, to save money, to be eco-friendly and possibly to earn money…don’t let a little dirt stop you from getting maximum results.
Not everyone likes cleaning their own windows, so don’t do it…
I have been cleaning windows in the Seattle area for nearly 30 years, and quite frankly, I enjoy it! I can also help you with your gutters and other outside tasks. I will be happy to answer all of your questions, and I know the mistakes to avoid. I clean private homes or apartment complexes.