There are several questions new solar panel owners tend to have, and one of the most common is regarding cleaning and maintenance needs. Do solar panels need to be cleaned regularly? If so, how often, and how should this be done? It’s natural to wonder about these elements, both for general aesthetics and, more importantly, for ensuring that your panels stay free of dirt and able to optimize their performance – and within this realm, it’s definitely important to keep your panels clean.
At Intermountain Wind & Solar, we’re proud to not only provide a huge range of residential and commercial solar panel installations and other services, but also expertise on how to utilize and care for any of our products, including cleaning needs and recommendations. As it turns out, the answer to the question, “How often should I clean my solar panels?” isn’t a hard and fast response – it will vary based on a few factors. Here’s a primer on what these factors are, how dirt and grime build up on your solar panels and what should be done about them, and some general cleaning tips, both for day-to-day needs and deeper cleaning situations.
When it comes to cleaning needs for solar panels, the frequency and depth will depend on some outside factors. Here are a few of these:
We wanted to place a specific focus on the role of rain and snow, which can often be significant. For instance, an important study conducted in Spain found that average performance reduction of solar panels due to dust buildup was only 4.4%, a number that most solar panel owners will be just fine with – but during long periods without drain, daily energy losses sometimes reached as high as 20%, a number that would be a big problem for any solar panel owner.
The translation here: If you live in a dry climate, such as in Salt Lake City or many other parts of Utah, dust buildup could be a legitimate concern for the performance of your solar panels. While rainfall does a great job rinsing away dust and maintaining at least 95% capacity for panels, there are situations where we’ll go weeks or months with very little rainfall here in Utah – and this means that cleaning and clearing the panels of dust, debris and any other items plays a role in their operational quality and power output. There may be some places in the country where solar panel owners can mostly just let rain do their cleaning for them, but Utah is not considered one of them.
In addition to your simple location, there are other variables that may play a role in how much dust or debris builds up on your panels. These variables may impact how often you clean the panels or precisely how you go about doing this. They include all of the following:
If you know some of these conditions are present, whether temporarily or throughout the year, you may want to increase the frequency with which you inspect panels for buildups and also clean them regularly.
For general cleaning needs, there’s no need to break the bank or get too complex with your process. In fact, many solar panel dirt or dust buildups can be easily cleaned without ever getting on the roof at all – you can just spray them from the ground with your garden hose, which will wash away many of the minor buildups that might be present.
If this doesn’t quite do the trick, and there are heavier buildups still present, we’ll move to our next section for some expertise.
For more significant forms of buildup on the solar panels, you will use some basic cleaning supplies to assist you here. Firstly, you must confirm that you’re able to access the solar panel area, usually your roof, safely and without any hazard risks. Once you’ve done this, obtain a soft brush and squeegee long enough for your needs, plus a water hose long enough to reach the panels. Then find a bucket, and fill it with water and some mild soap (there are soap types made specifically for solar panels today, as well).
Here are the steps to follow:
For more on how to clean solar panels, or to learn about any of our solar power solutions, speak to the staff at Intermountain Wind & Solar today.
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