If you have solar panels on your roof or on your RV, then you can’t help but notice that it is made from glass.
Over the course of time, the glass coating of your solar panel will become gummed up with dirt, which will eventually impede the function of your solar panel. So, what is the solution to this common problem?
What's In This Article
If you have the solar panel affixed to your roof, then you can be certain that it will accumulate grime and dirt over time, things like bird droppings and dust from the street traffic will make sure that the functional properties of your solar panel will be significantly decreased over time.
The dirt will prevent the light from reaching the energy cells, which will be a real problem if you want the maximum level of efficiency from your solar panels. If you are charging the battery in your RV, then this might make all the difference between it being at 80% charge and 100% charge.
You should always make sure to inspect the structural integrity of your solar panels too. If your panels are gummed up with dirt, then this might obscure cracks and fractures that might have appeared in your solar panel over time.
This will also really impede how well your solar panel is able to function.
So what is the best method of cleaning your solar panels? Why should you do it and how regularly should you do it? What are the best cleaning materials for your solar panels? How much effort should you put into cleaning your products? What other things will affect the efficiency of your solar panels?
Well, if you want the answers to these questions and a whole lot more, then we would suggest that you keep reading.
We have the top tips for cleaning your solar panel, why you should do it and how often. Once you have read this article, you’ll have everything that you need to keep your panels in absolutely perfect condition.
Why Should You Clean Your Solar Panels?
You should always try to physically inspect your solar panels, especially after they have been through heavy rain or a storm. This is because the wind and the rain will often damage the glass that the panels are made from. When cracks appear in the glass of your solar panels, then this is when energy is hampered.
You should also check the connections in your solar panel to make sure that nothing has come loose. These connections are crucial for making sure that the light from the sun is transferred to the energy that you get in the solar panel itself. We would recommend doing a thorough check of each cable.
You can also pay a monthly fee to get a monitoring service to do this for you.
This might be a little more expensive than you are willing to pay normally, but we would recommend that you get a professional check done at least every few months.
This will improve the overall quality of your solar panels and ensure that they last you for years to come.
If you are paying for a monitoring system, then you will get a professional and detailed analysis of how your solar panel is performing, whether there are any glitches in the system and how you can improve the output.
You can also check how much CO2 will be entering the atmosphere and how much money you are saving on your energy bills.
If you are going to pay for a professional monitoring service, then you will be able to head off a lot of problems before they develop into worse ones. This is very important if you want to preserve the lifespan of your solar panel in general.
There might be some companies that also offer a cleaning service for your solar panels, which will be great for giving your solar panel surface a thorough clean. If you want to leave not a spot of dirt on your solar panels, then we would suggest that you go for one of these cleaning services.
How To Make Sure Your Solar Panels Are Clean
Once you have discovered that the solar panels on your roof are dirty, then the next task will be cleaning them. But how do you clean them properly? You can clean them in numerous different ways, some of which we’ll outline here.
The first method is to clean the solar panels by yourself. Now, this can obviously be a very risky method, especially if they are housed high up on your roof. You should always make sure that you have another person with you to help out and monitor the situation. Holding the ladder will be very important to avoid anyone getting hurt.
The surface of the panel can be cleaned very simply using soap and warm water. All you need to do is apply the mixture with a sponge to the surface and you’ll be able to remove all the grime that builds up there.
If you cannot be sure that you can reach your solar panels with the utmost safety, then we would recommend using a different method.
You can use a professional service that will help you to clean your solar panels well. You’ll need to find a cleaner that has a great rating, with plenty of user testimonies that are positive, with at least 4 or 5 stars. They can give you a quote on how much the job will cost and what exactly they’ll do with your solar panels.
You’ll need to make sure your solar panel cleaning company is insured against accidents. We would recommend using one of these companies for safety and using the exact products that you need for solar panel glass. If you are using a cleaning company, then they can give you advice on how best to clean your solar panels.
Best Methods Of Cleaning Solar Panels
If you are wondering about cleaning solar panels and how much effort it might be worth, then we would consider it, as it will decrease the overall efficiency of your solar panels over time. You could see the energy consumption of your solar panel decrease by over 20% if you do not regularly maintain your panel.
Solar panels are usually built with a protective layer over the top that will make them naturally more weather resistant. Over the course of a few years, if you let dust and dirt accumulate, then you can be sure that you’ll have a reduced functioning solar panel.
By cleaning your solar panels every 6 months, you can guarantee a few extra dollars off your energy bill.
However, there might not be enough dirt that has accumulated on your solar panel to really warrant any cleaning. If you only notice a negligible decrease in energy, then it might not be worth the extra expenditure. If your house is still totally powered by solar panels, then a clean might not be worth it.
If you have a larger solar panel on your roof, then you might suffer more losses in terms of your energy saving. You’ll have to weigh up the cost of washing your solar panels effectively with the amount of money that you’ll be saving yourself in energy.
If you are saving yourself more energy in the long run, then we would recommend cleaning them.
Investing in a cleaning company to wash the panels might be pretty costly, but you might think that it’s worth it if you are going to be saving lots of money. You might often find yourself paying a lot of money for a cleaning job that is not that in-depth and not reflected in the final quality of the solar panel glass.
What Else Will Affect The Efficiency Of Your Solar Panel?
The angle of the solar panel will also affect how efficient it is. If you have it mounted at a low angle, then you will suffer from a decrease in energy absorption. You’ll need to make sure that the solar panel is directly facing the sun, as this will increase the surface area that the light can reach.
However, one of the plus points of having your solar panel mounted at a more oblique angle is that the dirt and other solid matter that can accumulate on the surface of your solar panel will naturally slide off.
You’ll have to make sure that you mount the solar panel on the right side of your house, where the light hits it at an angle.
If you have noticed that your solar panel is accumulating dirt on just one side, then you might want to reposition the whole thing so that the matter is decreased.
We would always recommend that you keep the flat surface of your solar panel slanted so that the dirt and other deposits will slide onto the floor.
One of the most common causes of your solar panel losing energy absorption is bird droppings. Being so high up and without any obstacles, your solar panels become a prime target for bird matter. These bird droppings are also very thick and will block any light from reaching the circuitry inside.
Bird matter is also thick enough that it might not be naturally removed by rain water. Over the course of a few months, your bird matter might become literally fused to the glass of your solar panel itself.
This is why you should invest in a cleaning service that you can be sure will remove all of this matter to a professional standard.
If you have your solar panels mounted near a motorway, then you’ll see a sharp uptick of dirt and grime that will adhere to its surface. This might generate enough dirt to warrant a thorough clean, which might make you reach into your pocket to shell out a few dollars for a regular clean.
The Worst Enemies Of Your Solar Panel
Leaves and Gunk
Leaves are another common issue for your solar panels, especially if they are installed underneath a tree. If you get enough leaves to obscure your solar panel, then you might as well nullify all the absorptive energy effects.
With a standard 5kW solar panel, the amount of dirt, leaves and gunk that can affect your solar panel is generally quite negligible, with only around 5% of your energy being lost at the end of every month. This will mean that maybe you’re paying only an additional $20 on top of your energy bill.
This is another big issue for solar panels. Studies have shown that bird droppings are more detrimental than a film of dust and can reduce the function of the inverter on your solar panel, causing it to lose efficiency.
This is why so many people tend to pay big cleaning companies to get rid of the gunk on their solar panels.
The angle of your solar panel will also have a massive effect on how much dirt and water will collect on the surface. If your solar panel is completely flat, then you can expect the water to start pooling, which could damage the current that goes through your solar panel.
How To Clean Your Solar Panels Yourself?
If you are going with the DIY route of cleaning solar panels and have completely checked out the safety of the situation, then we would suggest that you get some completely non-chemical cleaner and a soft sponge that will not scratch the surface of your panel.
If you inflict scratches on your panel, then you will notice a sharp drop in functionality.
Get a detergent that you know does not contain any corrosive elements, as this might eat into the glass, staining the surface and blocking out a significant level of light coming through your solar panel.
What Safety Measures To Use When Cleaning Your Panel
You must make sure that you have at least a safety harness and a hard hat that will provide you with protection around the head. Remember that working from such a height can be fatal, so you’ll want to be sure that you have the correct safety equipment.
If you get a safety harness made from proper supportive rope, then this will also prevent you from falling. The professionals use these when they are cleaning their solar panels, so you should try and adopt the same techniques.
Make sure that when you are traveling up your roof to clean your solar panels yourself that you are choosing to do so on a clear and sunny day.
Make sure that there is not much wind, because the higher that you get up the roof, the higher the wind speeds will be, so make sure you are taking that into consideration.
If you want a decent method of checking the cleanliness of your solar panels, then we would recommend getting some CCTV cameras that are pointed at the panels themselves.
This way, you can check the state of your solar panels and evaluate more accurately when they need cleaning.
However, if you cannot afford this method of close-up monitoring, then we would suggest that you wait at least 6 months before going up on your roof to check the condition of your solar panel.
You might find that the grime has not sufficiently built up enough to warrant paying for a thorough cleaning service.
Other Methods Of Solar Panel Protection
There have been amazing new innovations in solar panel technology that you can be sure will keep your panels protected in the long term. These include protective films that you can be sure will prevent any scratches or dings from occurring in the construction of your solar panels.
You can also get small motorized cleaners – basically robots – that will use soft brushes and water to get rid of all the grime and dirt from the surface of your solar panel.
These can be installed and left overnight, which will improve the overall lifespan of your solar panel and will also reduce the amount of risk you’ll be putting yourself under.
Our Final Say
We hope that our in-depth look at solar panel cleaning has helped you to understand the best methods of cleaning your solar panels and how to do it properly.
There are plenty of options available to you, although you might want to hold off on a thorough cleaning by professionals, as this might cost you more money than it’s worth.
You should be able to accurately judge how dirty your solar panels will get based on the surrounding environment.
If you have trees in the area, then these will shed during the Autumn and winter months, resulting in a lot of coverage over your solar panels, which will reduce their efficiency.