It seems obvious: solar panels need sunlight to produce energy, so dirty solar panels must have a drastically reduced rate of production, right? According to a study by the University of San Diego, the answer is “not really”. For the most part, regular dirt and dust on your solar modules hardly affect their functionality. If so, the disadvantages of trying to clean them yourself or paying for a professional far outweigh the advantages. There are a few exceptions, so read on to learn when it might be necessary to clean your solar panels.
Risks When Cleaning Your Solar Panel
The biggest risk in cleaning your solar panels is damaging them. Scratching or damaging the glass in any way reduces energy production more than dust and dirt. Solar panels also have a coating that is easily damaged by corrosive chemicals. Even gentle soaps can leave a film or residue that blocks sunlight and encourages dirt build-up. Not to mention, the panes are often very hot, and pouring cold water on hot glass can stress the glass and cause cracks.
Any damage you cause to your solar panels by cleaning them is most likely not covered by your warranty and could void the warranty entirely. Not to mention that most solar panels are on roofs and you could be injured if you fall.
Why you probably don't need to clean your solar panels
For the most part, solar collectors are low-maintenance systems. Most of the panels are sloped, which means they are slightly sloped. This makes them easy to clean when it rains – the rain hits the panels, loosens dust and dirt and carries it with you through the slope. If your panels are even sloped 5 degrees, the rain should clean them well enough that you don't have to take any further action. A study at the University of San Diego found that less than 0.05% of solar panel production was lost to standard dirt and dust. By cleaning a standard home's solar panels, you would most likely generate less than $ 8 in energy per month. That doesn't really make up for the cost of hiring a professional cleaning service!
The above information applies to standard scenarios. However, there are a few exceptions that may require cleaning your solar panels:
- place: If you live in a large city with high levels of pollution, near a factory or airport, near a farm, or any other location with significantly increased pollutant emissions, your solar panels may collect more light-blocking particles than in other locations.
- substance: Ordinary dirt and dust may not have a major impact, but certain materials do. Oil from airports and truck routes, bird droppings, sticky pollen, and snow can have a significant impact on energy production. Most of the time, snow will slide off your solar panels when it starts to melt, but if your solar panels are flat or it is extremely cold you might have a problem.
How to clean your solar modules
If you notice a drastic difference in energy production and your solar panels are dirty, you can try cleaning them. We recommend calling a professional, but if you're a hardwired home improvement, here's how: Wait for the panels to cool (best time is right at or before sunrise). Then use a hose to gently spray them with water. Do not use soap, chemicals, brushes, sponges, towels, or other abrasives.
When to call a professional for cleaning solar panels
If you try the above method and you don't see a difference in energy production, contact a professional. Their reduced energy production is in all probability not due to dirty panels. Call Solar Liberty for solar energy diagnostics and repairs in New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Vermont. We can determine if there is a repair problem or if your records need a professional cleaning. If so, our trained technicians use deionized water and special brushes designed for the job. Calling a professional will help rule out any technical issues and make sure your solar panels stay happy, healthy and under warranty!
Rely on Solar Liberty to service and repair solar panels in New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Vermont. Contact us Find out today how we can increase your energy production and save you money!