Solar

How To Clean Solar Panels; Is It Worth It?

You should learn how to clean solar panels. And you should also know when and if it’s even worth your time to clean them.

Between bird droppings, dust, dirt, and debris, your panels’ efficiency can be reduced. But in reality, depending on where you live, your solar power system will keep running just fine with little interference from nature.

Generally speaking, most likely your solar panels don’t need to be cleaned often. And most of the time natural rain water will do all the cleaning necessary.

In fact, one study found rooftop solar panels that were untouched for 145 days only lost about 7.4% energy production efficiency, which isn’t a huge reduction considering the no-maintenance status.

Solar panels are made with the elements in mind. So they stay very efficient through the curve balls mother nature throws at them. 

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Learn How To Clean Solar Panels

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Even though you may not need to clean your solar panels often, you should still know how and when to clean them.

Here are some important things you should know about cleaning solar panels.

  • First you want to check out your solar panel manufacturer and your warranty. They may have regulations and recommendations you can follow in cleaning their solar panels.
  • Choose a cooler time of day (or a cooler day in general) to wash your panels since solar panels get super hot in the sunshine.
    This can prevent you from getting burned, but it’s also possible sudden cold water could crack extremely hot panels. Cold water on panels can even reduce their efficiency; and you may not notice it right away either as the damage accumulates over time.
  • Spraying down your panels with your garden hose will offer the clean you are looking for most of the time.
    A higher pressure nozzle can help you direct the spray and an extended squeegee can help you dry them quickly.
  • Simple rainwater can be enough to clean your panels a lot of the time.
  • If you need more than a simple spray down, use warm water, dish soap, and a soft brush/cloth to clean them. You may wish to squeegee dirty water off to keep the panels streak free.
  • NEVER use anything grating or harsh, as scratching/damaging your panels will reduce their efficiency.
  • NEVER pressure wash your solar panels.
  • Avoid strong cleaning chemicals, as they can streak and damage the panel’s glass.
  • If you live near an airport or truck route, your panels may get oily streaks which can be removed with isopropyl alcohol and a rag.

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Cleaning Solar Panels Safely

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Always be careful about getting up on your roof. Take note of weather conditions, ice build up, and proper equipment and safety.

We always recommend homeowners who do not have proper safety equipment or expertise to hire rooftop help.

We’ve seen high and steep rooftops. We’ve heard about nasty accidents. We do not want that journey for you.

A professional can safely clean your panels with proper equipment and insurance for cleaning rooftop units.

In fact, many solar companies, such as Vivint, will have you take pictures of the part of the system you’re concerned that weather, snowfall, ash, etc is reducing your solar production. They’ll ask you to email those pictures to a specific customer help email. From there your pictures will be looked at by a system specialist to determine your needs. Sometimes the energy reduction is so negligible its worth it to wait for things to clear up naturally. Other times they’ll dispatch someone on the solar team to safely clear your panels.

That’s how concerned solar companies are about keeping you safe.

Remember you can almost always wait for nature to do the cleaning for you.

How Often Should Solar Panels Be Cleaned?

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Unless you live in an area with a high amount of smog/particulate matter, or a place where dirt/sand are frequently blown around,  you don’t need to clean your solar panels often. 

Cleaning can be important every now and then, but unnecessary cleaning is a waste of time, and homeowner’s don’t have that time to waste.

So our “unscientific answer” to this is simple: You only need to clean once in a while, every now and then, and not often.

You’ll probably only need solar panels cleaned once or twice a year.

If you notice they’re looking bad with no rain in the forecast, follow the simple cleaning procedures we mentioned. And for the love of safety please have a pro come out to clean really dirty rooftop panels.

If you’re hiring a pro to clean your solar panels, these services can cost you between $100-$600 depending on your home size and the amount of solar panels. It’s up to you to decide if it’s worth it, obviously. But we strongly recommend the safest way for you to handle it.

Note: Be wary of solar cleaning business that market their services to you at a monthly rate. It’s a rare place that needs monthly cleanings (extremely rare, maybe non-existent).

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Should I Remove Snow From Solar Panels?

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Thanks to the pitch of solar panels, and the way they heat up under the sun, most of the time snow will just melt and slide right off

If you find snow stubbornly clinging to your panels and interfering with their efficiency, then you may want to invest in a snow rake made specifically for solar panels.

Never use any typical rake, broom, or shovel to clean snow off solar panels, as they will scratch them up and lower your energy production.

To Clean Or Not To Clean Solar Panels

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Basically, solar panels were created with all the storms, dirt, and grime in mind. And they do a good job of being efficient through it all.

We suggest monitoring your solar energy efficiency when you don’t clean, when you clean, and in between cleanings (keep seasons and weather in mind of course). Evaluate how much cleaning is actually saving you and change how much you clean based on that evidence.

We think you’ll find that a simple clean once or twice a year is more than enough.

Have any questions? Need to know more or get connected to solar panel cleaning help? Use our free pro-and-quote finder below to get connected to the best local solar pros and deals in your area.

Get Your Free Quote Now: 877-858-2195

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Frequently Asked Questions about Solar:

Q: What is the ITC?

A: The Federal Government in the year 2019 will pay for 30% of your solar cost. That's like the Federal Government paying 30% of your electric bill for the next 30 years.

Q: Is there a solar program that is 100% free?

A: No. There are programs without any enrollment, install, or maintenance costs. However, you still have to pay the lower power bill that comes accompanied with your electricity use.

Q: What energy efficient program offers the most savings?

A: Solar offers massive savings to the homeowner. Especially as electric rates tend to rise year after year, and homeowners are using more power as they are adding in home automation, tvs, speakers, etc.

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