Solar Panel Cleaning 101: Why, When, and How?

A vehicle that is regularly oiled and serviced will perform better and last longer. In the same way that we don’t want any muck on our wheels, we prefer that our windows be completely spotless. In our approach to solar panels, there should be no deviation at all. By ensuring that our solar panels are in good condition at all times, we can ensure that they will continue to operate without posing any risks to our health or safety and that they will be able to supply our home or place of business with energy for many years to come.

This article addresses the most important concerns regarding the care and maintenance of solar panels. We are going to talk about the most common places where dirt can be found, the appropriate ways to clean your solar panel, as well as the circumstances that call for professional maintenance.

What are the causes of dirty solar panels?

Maintenance on the panel is required because the performance of the panel is negatively impacted by the accumulation of dust. The frequency with which you should clean your solar panels is determined by a number of different factors.

Does dust affect solar panels? The simple answer is that it does!

The factors that contribute the most to the accumulation of dust in your system are your geographical location and the components of your environment that could potentially pollute it.

Even though heavy rain, as some more limited studies suggest, might help to clean and clear debris and pollutants from your panels, the majority of larger studies report that dust build-up can lower the efficiency of our system in just a minute – by approximately 5% or less. This can happen because dust attracts and traps airborne pollutants, which can then be absorbed by the panels.

According to the findings of one study, the efficiency of solar panels that have been properly maintained has increased by 3.5%. According to an analysis that was gathered by the United States National Renewable Energy Laboratory, panels lose approximately thirty percent of their potential output if they are not cleaned properly.

According to the findings of a recent study, the efficiency of solar modules and panels in terms of power can be reduced by as much as sixty percent if dust is allowed to accumulate on them. In addition to this, “The research inferred that the mean of the daily energy loss over a year caused by dust deposited on PV module surface is around 4.4%.” 

In addition to being a common pollutant, leaves have the ability to block sunlight and reduce the effectiveness of solar panels. According to Mountain View, a provider of solar energy, clean panels have the potential to double the amount of energy produced overnight, even after 15 months of operation.

Solar energy systems that are installed in areas that are prone to high levels of airborne dust, such as close to busy roads or agricultural lands, will require more frequent and comprehensive maintenance. The failure to clean dust off solar panels installed in such locations can have a negative impact on the amount of electricity generated by the panels. According to the findings of some studies, the “reduction in solar efficiency due to dust on PV panel is approximately 40%” in regions that are prone to high levels of dust.

Bird Droppings 

The performance of a panel may be adversely affected by bird droppings to a greater degree than by the accumulation of dust. If bird droppings cover part or all of just one solar panel, the typical string-inverter PV system could result in the production of very little or no energy at all. If you have a micro-inverter system, the affected panel or panels might produce no power at all or very little power. 

Trees that are in close proximity to your solar panels will not only shed their leaves and branches, but they will also attract birds. Over time, these cause bird droppings and debris, which not only creates a mess that needs to be cleaned up and cleared away, but also creates a safety hazard. As a result, it is possible that bird proofing and gutter cleaning on a monthly or annual basis will be required.

The angle should also be taken into account in order to maintain the optimal performance of your solar panels. Because water can collect in flat arrays and leave muddy residue when it evaporates, more maintenance will be required of those arrays. On the other hand, arrays that are positioned at the appropriate angle can benefit from rain without leaving behind muddy residue. This is due to the fact that rain can easily slide across them, helping to keep them free of dust and other pollutants for the most part.

Why Professional Solar Cleaning Is The Most Ideal Option?

Maintaining your panels is very important, but contrary to popular belief, you do not need to clean them as frequently as you might think. In order to maximize the amount of sunlight that your panels are exposed to, it is possible that you will need to remove the occasional buildup of debris, such as leaves, bird droppings, and other debris. If you want to get the most out of your solar panels, it’s best to let nature take its course and perform a deep cleaning once a year rather than doing it more frequently. The majority of the dirt can be removed by regular wind and rain.

When it comes to performing any type of thorough cleaning and maintenance, it is best to hire a professional who is equipped with the necessary knowledge and tools to complete the task in a secure manner and in accordance with all applicable regulations from the very beginning.

How to clean solar panels

The majority of do-it-yourself work with the supplies they already have at home. When applying soapy water, we recommend that you use clean water, detergent, and a soft brush of high quality. This is the case even if you prefer to do your own cleaning. If there are any areas of the panels that require additional cleaning, then you should only use a mild detergent. Use a gentle detergent and a sponge covered in cloth to thoroughly and carefully wipe down the dirty areas. This shields your panels from the damaging effects of strong chemicals.

How location affects solar panel cleaning?

The manner in which solar panels are cleaned and the frequency with which they have to be cleaned have both been shown to be affected by the physical location of the panels.

It is recommended that they be cleaned at least once or twice every year as a general rule. However, there are some areas where they could benefit from being cleaned more frequently.

Polluted regions. PV panels that have been installed in areas with high levels of pollution, particularly in close proximity to factories, highways, or airports, are more likely to accumulate high levels of atmospheric grime and oil over time.

Places covered in trees. Solar panel installations that are located in areas with a high density of nearby trees are more likely to be covered in fallen leaves, which prevents the panels from effectively absorbing sunlight. Additionally, trees attract birds, which can result in an accumulation of droppings that obscure the PV cells and damage the surface due to the acidity of droppings, resulting in a reduction in efficiency.

Deserts. Sand accumulates more heavily on photovoltaic panels in arid and dusty regions like the Middle East and the American Southwest. This reduces the amount of light that can pass through the panels and scratches their surfaces. Ash from wildfires can quickly accumulate on solar panels in large clumps in certain regions, such as California and Australia.