Solar panels – do they have to be cleaned?

In the same way that we maintain the car to keep it working properly, so should we be looking after the solar panels to ensure that they are working efficiently. In the same way that we keep our windows clean, so should we be keeping the solar panels clean.

Common hindrances where solar panels are concerned, are dust, fallen leaves and grime carried by the wind, and bird droppings. A little dust is not a big problem, but it can reduce the efficiency of the solar system. Rain is likely to deal with a little dust reasonably well. But dirty panels will affect the power that your system generates, and this equates to monetary loss as your power bill will show.

Leaves and storm debris on the panels will block the sunlight. And worse than this, are bird droppings. So if you have trees nearby, you will get leaves, and you will get birds. Debris from both will build up over time, and it is important to check this out and get them cleaned on a regular basis.

Scientific tests have compared the yield from solar panels that are cleaned regularly, against those not cleaned. They state a 30% difference in yield.

If you live in an area of high pollution from factories or highways, or near the beach with salt and sand in the air, your panels may collect more build-up than the average house, and cleaning the panels becomes more and more important.

There are people whose job description includes cleaning solar panels. Obviously they have more knowledge about the processes than the average homeowner. But if you decide to clean the panels yourself, there are some tips to help you.

Firstly, keep safe. If it is possible to clean the panels from the ground, stay grounded. Don’t use anything that would scratch the panels, instead use a soft brush, a squeegee blade and sponge, with a long pole, and train your hose onto the panels. Start with just water and rub over with the sponge. If required, use a mild dishwashing detergent. Don’t use a high pressure washer, which may cause damage. And do it on a day which is not too hot, not too cold, not too sunny, and not raining. Too hot, and your hose water will evaporate on the panel quickly, perhaps leaving muddy residue. Too cold, and you won’t have any help from the weather to gradually dry out your panel. Too sunny, and you will be looking skywards and may be blinded by the sun. Obviously, if it’s raining, then the rain will do most of the work.

If you can’t reach the panels from the ground, please think safety first. If you have to go on the roof, it is recommended that you use a safety harness and hard hat. If this is not something you want to do, contact someone who has experience, like solar panel cleaning Canberra, to do the job for you. He will have the safety equipment necessary. You don’t want to injure yourself, or even lose your life, if you try to do it yourself without knowing exactly what you should do.

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