Ever thought about how your calculator works without having to ever change the batteries? Chances are it’s powered by the sun using tiny solar cells. As long as there’s sufficient light, your calculator should keep going and going.
Solar panels for your home work in just the same way except on a much larger scale. They are in effect giant semi-conductors. Their job is to cleverly absorb the light’s energy and extract the electrons. These electrons are controlled by magnetic fields and if the metal is placed either above or below the solar panels then energy can be withdrawn from the electrons and be used to power a whole number of devices, gadgets, and machinery.
Do you need to clean solar panels? Yes! When you invest your hard-earned cash into solar panels it’s understandable that you would want them to be running at optimum capability so that you can start to recoup your money. Just like when your pocket calculator doesn’t work so well because it’s dusty or dirty, the same can be said for solar panelling placed on your house. The key to maintaining a good source of electricity is sufficient sun (although they will work on cloudy days too) and well maintained (that means clean) panelling.
The more dirt, the more inefficient your solar panels will become, but just how inefficient? Experts suggest that a loss of solar energy due to lack of solar panel cleaning can decrease efficiency by around 33%, and more for those people who have never cleaned their panels. If your panels are dirty, now is a good time to put that right.
With this in mind, what’s the best way to clean solar panels?
How to clean your solar panels
When it comes to solar panel cleaning it isn’t as difficult as you might think, as long as you can access them. The thing to remember is that any build-up of dust, dirt, bird droppings, debris, and grease will affect the panels’ ability to absorb the sun’s rays so the dustier your area, the more frequently you’ll need to have them cleaned. To do this is a fairly simple process. Firstly if your panelling appears to be simply dusty then a good swish with a garden hose should do the trick. Obviously, the rain will do the same job and although we don’t like rainy days, when it does, at least it’s cleaning your solar panels.
Since your solar panels are designed to live in the elements, you don’t need to turn off solar panels to clean them. However, stick to a normal garden hose, using a pressure washer to clean your solar panels could potentially cause damage due to the much higher water pressure.
If on the other hand, your panelling requires a little more cleaning due to a build-up of dirt, grease, and/or bird droppings, then a bucket of warm water and a squeegee or sponge on the end of a large pole will do the trick. Do not use hard bristled brushes or you risk scratching the surface of the panels and causing serious damage. Avoid using soap or detergents, they’ll leave streaks and marks, much like they would if used for cleaning windows. For really stubborn marks from bird poo or grease, try spot cleaning with some isopropyl alcohol. Once you’ve carefully given them a good scrub, then remove any remaining particles with a hose.
In addition, if you have any nearby foliage such as trees or hedges then you might also want to make sure that they are trimmed back. Firstly, if allowed to grow they could well impinge on the natural sunlight your panels get, and secondly, if the tree is deciduous, a tree that’s been cut back is less likely to shed as many leaves during the winter months and therefore by a law of averages, they’re also less likely to end up dropping directly onto your panelling.
So how often should solar panel cleaning be done?
The short answer is that there is no defined time scale (say every month or every 3 months). Instead, it really does depend upon five main elements and these are:
- Your location – Do you live in an arid or dry area, or do you get plenty of rain to wash any debris away
- The angle of tilt – Panels that are tilted tend to accumulate less debris that those which aren’t
- The amount of wind – Wind places and distributes dust and debris far and wide
- Your electricity rate – If the cost of your electric rate is on the high side then it’s more advantageous to clean your panels more often than when costs are lower.
- Ease of access – If your solar panels aren’t easy to access or you aren’t particularly mobile then you mightn’t want them cleaned as regularly, particularly if hiring a pro is expensive in your area.
In the main, it is worth checking on a monthly basis while also monitoring your electrical production.
Ensure Your Safety!
Most solar panels are easily reached with a ladder, but if yours are exceptionally high or you don’t fancy climbing a ladder or mixing heights and water hazards, what can you do then?
The best thing is to leave it to the solar professionals. A quick look online will find companies who can maintain panels and provide a solar panel cleaning service so you really have no excuses for not keeping your panelling in tip-top condition.
Here at Static Electrics we’ve been installing, troubleshooting and maintaining solar systems for many years so if you have any solar panel issues, or simply need advice, then give us a call and talk to our friendly and experienced team who can help.
Why not let us set up a bespoke cleaning and maintenance program to suit your needs. This way you have total peace-of-mind for 365 days a year by knowing that your system is running to its maximum capabilities!