Best Way to Clean Solar Panels


Coming from the Jersey Shore there is a lot of problems with seagulls that find their way over my neighborhood relieving themselves over the Solar Panels that cover most of the roofs of our homes and RVs here in South Jersey. Two things that don’t mix well are the strong white poop and the nice black or bluish hue of the Solar panels that stand out on these single-level Ranger types houses or Solar equipped Campers and RVs. What is the best way to clean Solar Panels?

  • Clean Panels 2x per/year
  • Remove dust/pollen
  • Use a cleaning solution specifically made to clean Solar Panels
  • Avoid soapy H2O
  • Use a nanofiber cleaning brush
  • Remove remaining H2O with a quality squeegee
  • Use a lint-free cloth to dry the edges of the panel
  • Or use a Photovoltaic Solar Panel Cleaning Kit from the ground

 

How Often Should Solar Panels Be Cleaned

 

To get the most efficiency out of your solar panels and extend their life, it’s important to clean them regularly. Solar panel cleaning can be a huge job depending on where they working, but it’s well worth it if you want the benefits and efficiency of solar energy.

The more natural sunlight the panel is exposed to, the more energy it generates, which is why it’s important to point your panels in the best upward direction toward the sun and have clean solar panels, especially in off-grid cabins situations.

Solar panels in wooded but this means they will be exposed to critters, leaves, pollen, dirt, and dust and in Jersey and other coastal regions, it’s the dreaded Seagull and its poop that can peel the paint of a garbage truck.

Some manufacturers say at least 2 times a year. Once in the Spring after snow and ice in the Winter and once in the Fall after summer when Solar Panels are exposed to birds and other types of wildlife. During this time you should be checking for physical damage bad panels, cracks, or loose connections.

There are some solar power manufacturers that require ongoing cleaning in order to honor the warranty. Unless an owner can show proof of regular cleaning their warranty might be voided. Keeping solar panels clean can also improve their efficiency.

Manufacturers and solar panel users report a jump in efficiency of 30 percent or more after cleaning. It’s a good idea to keep track of your energy output before and after cleaning because that alone can be enough motivation to get your panels cleaned. The cleaner they are the more efficient and the more efficient the more money you save.

 

Solar Panel Cleaning Soap

 

It’s always a good idea to check with people who made the Solar Panels before using Windex or any household cleaner that contains harsh chemicals like ammonia or any solvents that may not be suited for cleaning Photovoltaic systems or Solar Panels regardless if you assume there safe. Check it out first.

A California-based solar installer and maintenance provider called The Bland Company never uses a cleaning agent on solar panels, instead of relying on deionized water and a rotating-brush system to wash solar panels.

“Soaps can leave a film or residue that not only shades panels like the dirt that was just washed off, but it can also encourage dirt to stick and build up faster,” said Daniel Green, Bland marketing director. “We use deionized water that is applied through our rotating-brush system. This is the best way to leave the solar panels with a spot-free shine that’s as beautiful as the first day they were installed.”

National residential and commercial O&M provider SunSystem Technology also stays away from soap and uses filtered water and a rotating brush to clean panels, but the director of marketing Jeff Strohm said the company uses a mixture of diluted vinegar and hydrogen peroxide to aid in scrubbing away dirt and grime. In other words, the Professionals stay away from soapy household water saying it causes a film over the cells that can hinder the sun’s light affecting the efficiency of the panel.

Each solar panel is different, so make sure to review the instructions from the solar manufacturer first before cleaning the panels; some panels are sensitive to certain chemicals, and others may have fragile components that you need to be aware of. Inspect the solar panels on a periodic basis.

Before washing, make sure that there aren’t any cracks and ensure all connections are tight. If there are damaged wires or cracks, it might be time to call an electrical technician.

Remove any debris on the solar panel. Trim back trees or plants that may be blocking the sun’s energy to the solar panels.

  • Fill a bucket or sprayer with warm water and with a cleaning solution specifically made to clean Solar Panels
  • Green cleaning supplies do a great job on solar panels (Winsol Solar Brite Solar Panel Cleaning Soap)
  • Here’s a simple non-toxic recipe for glass cleaner: 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon liquid non-abrasive soap or detergent, and 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. In drier areas when there is water rationing – the solar panels can be cleaned fairly well using an air hose.
  • Use a non-abrasive cleaning sponge or towel to wash the glass. Get the Panel as clean and clear as possible – don’t scratch it.
  • Remove remaining water with a high-quality squeegee to avoid hard water mineral build-up.
  • Use a lint-free cloth to dry the edges of the panel.

 

Emergency Solar Power Kits

Solar Panel Cleaning Equipment

 

There are a couple of ways to clean your Solar panels if the panel is on the roof of your home that maintenance might be part of the warranty and the installation price. You can hire a company to do it and they are readily available more than I thought once I started looking them up online.

Or you can do it yourself with the right equipment and cleaners. There are monitoring systems that alert you to how well your solar panels are functioning and performing. This can alert you to any maintenance needs for your system, whether that’s mechanical, electrical, or cleanliness of the panels in the system. You can tell a lot about the system by the loss of efficiency.

You can buy the equipment here through Amazon to do the maintenance yourself like this one HFJKD Window Clean, Cleaning Photovoltaic and Solar Panels, Cars, Caravan, Truck, Campers and Buses, Car Wash, Water Brush,12m  This system doesn’t need a ladder to clean the Panels and uses a special Select the special nanofiber cleaning brush with a diameter of 0.26 mm, which will not damage the photovoltaic panel and clean the dirt better.

This kit will be Suitable for high windows cleaning, solar photovoltaic panel cleaning, cleaning cars, trucks, vans, caravans, windows, greenhouses, boats, decks, etc. anywhere you have Solar Panel installed they can be reached.

A more inexpensive Kit is called Mr. LongArm 1009 Pro Curve Solar Panel Cleaning System Kit. The solution that is used with the Kits is called Winsol Solar Brite Solar Panel Cleaning Soap Gallon Specially formulated for cleaning all types of solar panels. SolarWorld, CanadianSolar, Noark, Sixvan, and, JA Solar approved Solar Panel wash. Found on Amazon.

Rinses clean, No hard water spotting & distilled water is NOT required Biodegradable, No VOCs, chlorine, and phosphate-free

 

Most manufacturers recommend cleaning at least twice a year. This tends to result in a 3 to 5% increase in efficiency.  Maintaining a clean surface on your solar panels is essential for optimum energy efficiency.

Also, they suggest cleaning them at the end of winter because of residues left over from the changing seasons of Autumn and ice and snow that can trap dirt and residue over the Winter that collects and loosens up in the Spring.

Clean your Panels at least twice a year and whether the Solar Panels are on your Camper or your Cabin you will notice a difference in the rate of production over the course of the year. If you have doubt there are Solar Cleaning companies or Solar Installers who will provide a maintenance plan but most owners agree it’s not worth paying someone else to do it unless there is some danger to it.

 

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JimGalloway Author/Editor

 

References:

 

Solar Power WorldPro tip: Never use soap to clean dirty solar panels

Cleaning solar panels is often not worth the cost

 

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