A solar panel system is a significant investment, so you will want to make sure that it lasts you a long time by caring for it - this may include having to give your panels a bit of a clean every once in awhile.
Do solar panels actually need to be cleaned?
As solar panels are tilted, most dirt will fall off or be washed away as soon as it rains. However, if you live in a dry area or there is a lot of ambient dust or sand, particles can accumulate in quantities sufficient to cause a serious decline in output of more than 20 percent. Bird droppings will do that too!
So if you notice a difference in production, cleaning your panels may be needed.
General rules to clean your panels
First things first, you should shut down the system. Be sure to switch off both AC and DC isolators, as liquid and electricity are not friends.
If possible, it is preferable to clean your panels from the ground, although it can be tricky to find cleaning tools long enough to reach your installation. You will need a seriously long extension on which you can mount a soft brush with a squeegee equipped with a plastic blade on one side, and a cloth-covered sponge on the other side. Likewise, you will need good water pressure and a suitable nozzle to be able to rinse the panels.
If it can’t be done from the ground, remember then that cleaning your solar panels means that you will be as high as your roof, so do not even contemplate the idea of climbing up your ladder with a heavy bucket balanced in one hand. You must imperatively use the right equipment and hire if necessary. Your local house and roof cleaning companies may be better equipped to do this job.
The best time to clean your installation is early morning, late afternoon or on overcast days. If the sun is shining with all its might, the water and cleaning products you use will evaporate quickly, leaving residues which will reduce your panels’ efficiency as much as dirt does.
Early morning is a particularly good time as dew will have been on the panels for a few hours and will have already softened the grime - meaning it will be easier to remove.
Be aware the panels on systems other than the Harrisons Solaredge brand, which has Safe DC™ as a safety feature, will still have high voltages even when the switch is off. Extra care must be taken when working with panels whilst they are in the sun.
If your panels are dry, start off by removing any loose material. Solar panels have a glass-like surface, so it is important to handle them gently. Harsh, abrasive scrubbing equipment is likely to make scratches which will cast shadows on the solar cells and reduce their energy production with no other solution than having to change the whole panel.
The only cleaning equipment good-quality solar panels really need to be cleaned is clean water, a soft broom and lastly some elbow grease. Be sure to hose the panels off well when finished. If necessary, a very mild detergent may be added to the water.
Don't forget to switch your system back on as well!
If you are interested in having solar panels installed and need friendly and knowledgeable advice, contact Harrisons Solar on 0800 00 33 54 or through our contact form.