How To Clean Solar Panels
In most circumstances, you won’t need to clean your solar panels frequently. Mostly because when dirt, dust or pollen accumulates on them, it will be washed off the next time it rains. Perhaps, there are times it will make sense to clean your solar panels If you’ve got plenty of bird droppings on your panels. When you decide your solar panels need to be cleaned, there are two ways of cleaning it: one is to hire a professional or you do it yourself. Many solar companies will offer this type of service to you, for a fee, but if you choose the latter, all you will need is a hose and soap.
There are methods to ascertain if your solar panels need cleaning to start with.
First is a physical inspection of the panels for dirt, debris and bird droppings, etc. The second method is the use of a monitoring system that informs you on how well your solar panels are functioning and performing.
For safety reasons, the first thing you need to do is to check with the manufacturer of your solar panel. They have specific recommendations for cleaning. You’ll also need to follow the steps in your manual for shutting down the system before you start cleaning.
If possible, it’s advisable to clean your panels from the ground. A squeegee, a good soft brush and a sponge covered with cloth joined with a long extension would make for the perfect tools to clean and allows you to stay on the ground. Use a hose with an appropriate nozzle to allow the flow of water to reach the panels.
If it is not possible to clean your panels from the ground, do not try to climb your rooftop unless you have the required safety equipment and training. If you do not have it; please hire a qualified professional instead.
Solar panels are always hot in the sunshine, ensure you clean your panels on a relatively cool day, either early in the morning or in the evening. If the sun is hitting on the panels, any water used will quickly evaporate and the dirt will become smeared.
Early morning is an advisable time for cleaning as the dew that has fallen on the panels overnight will likely have softened the dirt; which means you’ll need to use less water and energy to clean your panels.
Before washing the modules with water, If the panels are dry, brush off any loose materials, first – this will make cleaning the panel easier and faster.
Do not use any metal objects or abrasive item for removing caked on stuff – when you scratch the glass on a solar panel it affects the performance of the panel because scratches will form shadows. If possible, avoid using detergents as these may cause marked spots of different colors on the glass of the panel. Also, use of abrasive powders would cause scratching of the panels.
If your supplied water is hard i.e. mineral-rich and rainwater is available; use the rainwater as your final rinse; then dry with a squeegee. If hard water is all that is available, be sure to clean with a squeegee well as hard water can form deposits on the glass as it dries.
How to deal with oil stains
In some installation cases, you could have oil stains, such as if you stay close to an airport and you are under a flight path or if you live close to a major roadway traveled frequently by trucks. If oily stains start showing on your panels; Isopropyl alcohol should be used as a spot-cleaning substance.
Finally, in most residential installation setting, cleaning your solar panels isn’t worth the stress because of the dangers of climbing the top of your roof. Unless the dirt is so visible or performance is greatly affected; simply let the rain do the job for you.