While solar panels are a relatively low-maintenance investment for your home, you do want to ensure you’re cleaning and maintaining them properly over the years. Here are our best practices on how to clean solar panels for your home in safe and sustainable ways.
Avoid using detergents, alcohol, abrasive powders, and rough, hard-bristled brushes on your home’s solar panels, as these can easily damage the glass and the solar components themselves.
High-quality solar panels are very durable and meant to withstand storms, falling branches, high winds, hail, and other hazards, but these panels are not indestructible! The wrong cleaning tools and improper cleaning methods can scratch these panels or make the glass cloudy and streaky. Improper cleaning methods can also damage their wiring and the connectors that hold the panels to the home’s roof or siding.
To better understand how to clean and maintain solar panels properly, first note some basic information about how these panels work, along with some tips for how to get the most use out of them and how to ensure they’re always in good repair.
In very simple terms, solar panels allow particles of light, called photons, to “knock” electrons free from atoms, which then creates electricity. Metal plates in the panels capture this electricity and allow it to run along wiring and then through an inverter. This inverter converts the electricity created by the panels into the type of electricity that is used by your home.
This basic explanation might explain why you need to ensure the glass of the solar panels is not cloudy, scratched, or obscured. The more light the panels can absorb, the more electricity they will produce, whereas any obstruction or cloudiness will keep the panels from absorbing sunlight and functioning properly.
First, note a few things to avoid so that you don’t damage solar panels during the cleaning process:
Now that you know what to avoid when cleaning solar panels, consider what you can do to keep those panels clean and streak-free.
A leaf blower can be sufficient for removing leaves, twigs, and other debris that may have settled onto the panels. This can also allow you to clear the panels while staying safe on the ground!
Household string mops and cloths used for buffing cars can be soft enough for cleaning solar panels, but for professional-quality cleaning, invest in a squeegee meant for solar panels in particular. These will have a soft, nonabrasive cloth on one side and a rubber lip or edge on the other.
Start the cleaning by using the rubber side of this brush to gently remove any debris missed with the leaf blower. Next, give the panels a rinse with your garden hose, using a soft spray to soak their surface. This will soften any caked-on dirt, mud, bird droppings, and the like.
Using the cloth side of the cleaning brush, gently wipe down the panel without applying too much pressure. You might need to repeat this process, getting the panel wet and then wiping it down again, to remove thicker dirt and grime.
If rinsing and wiping the panels with this soft cloth doesn’t remove all the dirt, add some biodegradable soap to the water. Be sure you rinse the panels thoroughly so that you remove all traces of this soap after cleaning.
Use the rubber side of the squeegee to remove all traces of water and soap from the panels after you’ve rinsed them off. Wipe the squeegee with a thick, absorbent cloth between each use so that you remove all water and debris from the rubber.
If you live near an airport, you might notice oily stains on the panels, as plane engines will often drip oil and other fluids. Use a bit of rubbing alcohol on these stains, and then wipe the area down with plenty of water so that the alcohol doesn’t dry on the panel’s surface.
While cleaning your home’s solar panels is typically a very quick and easy job, note a few simple tips that might make this job even easier and more economical!
A pressure washer can allow you to clean solar panels without having to climb onto the home’s roof to reach them. However, you want to use a pressure washer only for this added reach while keeping the spray of water gentle and without actual impact. Don’t use pressure to clean dirt and grime that has dried on the front of the panels, as too strong of a water spray might break or scratch the glass.
If you cannot remove caked-on dirt with a gentle spray of water, along with a squeegee or soft cloth and biodegradable soap, call a solar panel cleaning company to tackle this job for you. This will ensure the panels are cleaned properly and without damage.
While high-quality solar panels will typically collect and store all the power needed for your home, you might note some tips on how to get the most use out of those panels. This will ensure they last for years before they need repair and also ensure you use as little city-supplied power as possible.
When people ask if solar panels work at night, what they’re usually asking is if their home will have electricity at night if they have solar panels installed! As said, solar panels are connected to batteries, which store the power collected by those panels. These batteries are then connected to your home’s electrical systems.
The stored electricity in those batteries is what allows your home to be fully powered at night, on cloudy days, during wintertime when there is less sunlight, and so on. However, note that the batteries connected to solar panels only hold so much power, which is why many homes that use solar panels are still connected to their city-supplied power. If you use up the power in those batteries before the solar panels can capture sunlight and recharge them again, your home’s electrical systems will then switch over to that city-supplied power as needed.
One thing to consider about solar panels is that their installation is not typically a DIY job. The panels need to be positioned so that they get as much sunlight as possible, as said, and connected properly to the roof so that they withstand storms.
Solar panels also need to be properly wired to their converters and then to the batteries, which need to be connected to the home’s circuit box. Unless you have years of experience in working with electrical systems and wiring and know that you would be safe working on your home’s roof, it’s best to simply invest in the services of a professional installer for your solar panels.
In some cases, you might be able to lease solar panels versus buying them. How can you decide which is the better option?