How should I clean my solar panels, should I use detergent water or just plain water and a sponge? In this article we will see how to clean solar panels without causing any damage to solar panels and yourself and also look at the best time to clean solar panels.
It is advisable to clean your solar panels with plain water and a soft cloth or sponge at least once a month. if all parts of solar panels are not accessible then you should use a soft brush to clean inaccessible areas.
To remove solid deposits like bird poop that are not getting cleaned by plain water you can use soap or shampoo.
Before we start with the solar panels cleaning procedure I feel you should know why solar panels cleaning and maintenance is important.
Why Should You Clean Your Solar Panels:
With time dust gets deposited on the solar panels which acts as a barrier for the light waves which fall on the solar cells, thus decreasing its power generation.
To give you a rough idea dust deposition and unclean solar panels can easily cause upto 30% loss in power production. If your solar is generating 100 units of electricity in a month then it might only generate 70 units due to dust, that’s a loss of 30 units or Rs 300 (assuming tariff Rs 10) every month, which adds upto 360 units or Rs 3,600 annually.
Now that you know why you should clean your solar panels, lets look at the best time to clean solar panels.
Best Time To Clean Solar Panels:
If you have ever gone on your roof in the afternoon and touched the solar panels you know it’s damn hot.
It is advisable to not clean the solar panels when the sun is shining at its peak because in afternoon solar panels are very hot and sudden change in temperature by splashing water can cause micro cracks over time, also pouring cold water on hot solar panels can result in quickly evaporating water and this will make the dirt stick even more.
I would suggest you to clean your solar panels early in the morning before 10:00 am or after 5:00 pm so that the solar panels are cool also it’s the best time for you as there is no sun and surrounding temperature is cool.
New to Solar start here - Solar 101 Guide For Beginners
What Should I Use To Clean Solar Panels:
If you clean your solar panels regularly then dust and dirt would be the major deposit on your solar panels. To clean dust and dirt plain water will be just fine there is no need for a cleaning liquid.
However if your solar panels have lots of bird dropping and other debris which can’t be cleaned with normal water then there is no harm in adding any cleaning liquid as long as it is mild and if possible bio-degradable.
If you can access each side of your solar panels by hand then clean your solar panels either using smooth cloth or sponge, no need to invest in a mop or brush.
However If you can’t access all sides of your solar panels then you should invest in a good quality soft brush with long handle, the length of the handle of the brush should be enough so that you can reach every side of the solar panel.
How To Clean Your Solar Panels:
Now that you know when to clean your solar panels and what should you use to clean it, lets see the best and safest way to clean your solar panels.
- If you are having a water hose then connect it and start spraying water on the solar panels, if you don’t have water hose then just use a mug and bucket full of water and start pouring water on top of solar panels.
- Clean the surface of solar panels with soft sponge wherever you can reach and if some regions are inaccessible then you the long handle brush.
- To clean bird poop or any other deposit that can’t be cleaned with regular water, opt for cleaning agent like mild soap, shampoo.
Now that you know how to clean solar panels, let me share with you how to not clean your solar panels. Make sure you avoid doing these mistakes.
How Not To Clean Your Solar Panels:
- Spray water on top and bottom of solar panel and make entire solar panel wet.
- Clean the surface of solar panel with hard brush to remove dust, dirt and debris.
- Climb on top of solar panels to clean it properly.
How Often Should You Clean Your PV Panels:
My suggestion is if you are getting expected power generation from solar panels then clean your solar panels once a month.
If there is sudden drop in power generation then chances are a layer of dust is accumulated on your solar panels which is not allowing sunlight to hit the solar cell. In that case you should clean your solar panels in 15 – 20 days.
The frequency of cleaning of solar panels totally depends on the deposition of dust on the solar panels.
If you need a number then my recommendation is to clean your solar panels once every month, if the generation is going down and you can see a visible layer of dust and bird poop then clean the solar panels once in a fortnight.
Best Practices For Cleaning Solar Panels:
These are the rules you should follow every time you clean your solar panels: These rules are for your safety and solar system safety.
- You should not spray water on the back side of your solar panels since it has the junction box, if you want to clean the back side the just use a dry or damp cloth and clean with it.
- You can clean the solar panels without turning of the inverter, it is fully safe.
- Avoid cleaning the solar panels when sun is shining.
- Avoid harsh chemicals to clean the solar panels.
- Always maintain proper safety to clean the solar panels, use harness if you are on a slant roof, remember even without much maintenance your solar panel will be fine for 25 years but a slip here and there will cost you big time.
- Do not stand on solar panels. Even though solar panels are 6 layer protected and has toughened glass covering you should not climb on it. The surface of solar panels will get very slippery the moment you pour water and with the inclination it will be more dangerous.
Solar Panels Cleaning Kits (Personal Suggestion):
1. Soft cleaning brush:
Amazon link: https://amzn.to/2Zdq3bq
You can try this if you have less than 10 solar panels and are looking for a budget option to clean your solar panels
2. Soft cleaning brush with water fed telescopic pole:
Amazon link: https://amzn.to/2ZbPg5J
If you are having more than 20 solar panels and want to clean them quickly then go with this.
3. BOSCH pressure water:
Amazon link: https://amzn.to/2SgtdcK
If you are having more than 30 solar panels and some are not accessible at all then opt for this BOSCH pressure pump it will clean the hell out of your panels.
I would say if you see a drop in your solar panels generation then it’s time to clean.
To clean the solar panels you should use regular water with a piece of soft cloth or sponge. If some areas are not accessible then use a soft brush to clean them.
Ideal time for cleaning is early in the morning when there is already dew on the panels or in the evening since panels are at normal temperature both this time.
Always keep safety as your first priority never climb on your solar panels while cleaning it can be dangerous.
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