Cleaning Solar Panels: The Why and How
How often do you clean your solar panels?
If you said, “What? You have to clean those things?” you’re not alone! We tend to install and forget, especially if we’re seeing a reduction on our utility bills! After all, rain can wash them, right?
Well… sure. Rain can remove light dust and pollen. But it is not the best cleaning agent to tackle dirt, grime, bird droppings, mold, and mildew. Mold and mildew are not the kind of “green” you wanted to achieve when you installed solar panels! It can be a particular problem here in humid North Carolina.
If your panels are not placed on a sufficient tilt (e.g. you have a flatter roof), this grit can build up. When this happens, it impacts the amount of sunlight that can get into the solar cells, as well as the panel’s ability to convert that light into energy. This reduces the overall efficiency of the panel - and lowers the savings you see each month.
Cleaning may also be a condition of your solar panel manufacturer; many companies and/or installers require the panels to be cleaned routinely as a term of your warranty. In other words, if you don’t have proof of professional cleaning, they may not cover you for replacement components or repairs. This can easily be far more costly than a simple cleaning.
That’s the “why.” Let’s move on to the “how.”
Pressure Washing to Maintain Your Solar Panel Performance
Pressure washing utilizes high-pressure water (from 750 to 30,000 psi) to power away grit, gime, droppings, muck, stains, and other nasty buildup. The key is knowing, and using, the right amount of pressure for solar panels. The last thing you want to do is damage these assets.
This is one reason that it is important to opt for a professional pressure washing service over DIY (again, your manufacturer may require it anyway). Trained, insured technicians use industry-leading pressure washing techniques, combined with appropriate cleaners and brushes to prevent scratches, etching, and deterioration of your panels. This produces the mean, green clean that you need.
DIY or Pro?
We’ve discussed a few reasons it is important to go with a professional solar panel cleaning service: it may be a condition of your warranty, and you don’t want to inadvertently cause damage to your solar panels. A few more words on this:
If you are a homeowner with a few panels, you could climb a ladder and go at it with a bucket of soapy water. But here, you must be careful not to use any type of high pressure attachments or equipment; the risk of damage is too great.
You may also scratch or etch your glass, eroding its ability to work optimally, by using the wrong cleaning chemicals and materials. If you want to try, use a simple dishwashing detergent and a sponge. And please be careful! Solar panels can be extremely hot. This puts you at risk for injury, as does climbing a ladder and moving around on your roof.
For commercial applications, the cost, man hours, and safety training involved in cleaning panels in-house are often much greater than simply hiring the job out. You can let the pros get to work - so your people can get back to work too.
Opting for a professional solar panel cleaning service eliminates all the worry and hassle. You can stay safely on the ground while your panels get the deep (safe!) clean they need to perform optimally.