Step by Step: How to Clean Solar Panels  

Once you’ve installed a solar system, one of your concerns might be how to clean solar panels: how often you should, why you should, what you need to do so, etc. In this blog, we’ll go through a step by step process of how to get those panels squeaky clean and back to operating at peak efficiency!

It’s worth noting that solar panels do still produce energy even when they’re a little dirty, but like anything, they work and look better when they’re clean. Windshields are also still usable with a little dirt and grime on them, but wouldn’t you feel better about them if they were spotless? It sure would improve your experience with them! The same goes for solar panels – they can still operate with spots, marks, dirt buildup, etc., but you will be losing out on some of their energy production potential. 

To keep anything running smoothly and maintaining their levels of productivity, it requires a little TLC. While solar panels are built to last and often operate efficiently for at least 25 years, taking care of your system can improve the lifespan and the performance. Learning how to clean solar panels is an easy way to take care of them.

What Affects Your Panels? 

Anything from dirt to dust to bird droppings can affect your solar panels, and with spring just around the corner, you’ll probably see a healthy dose of pollen coating them as well! Not to mention leaves or other falling debris that can build up on your roof over time and block your panels from absorbing sunlight and affect the efficiency of your solar system. It’s important to monitor your panels and make sure they’re clear of anything that can block the sun’s rays, especially if your solar array is placed on a flat part. Panels installed on slanted parts of the roof are slightly better off because leaves and other debris can fall off more easily and prevent too much from building up. 

Guide to Clean Solar Panels

First off, we want to state that the most effective option for cleaning solar panels is to hire a professional service that is knowledgeable and skilled in this area to ensure you get the best results in the safest way possible. However, if you’re a DIY-minded person and would like to attempt it yourself, here’s how to clean solar panels on your own:

1. Clean solar panels from the ground if at all possible. 

Getting up on the roof can be dangerous if you’re not professionally trained, so we always suggest cleaning them from the ground. To do this, you’ll need a water hose with a stream that can reach the roof and a squeegee type tool with a sponge attached to an extended pole. 

2. Clean your solar panels in the early morning or on a cloudier day.

If the sun is beating down or it’s a particularly warm day, the water you’re using to hose off your panels will evaporate faster, leaving dirt or streaks on your panels. By cleaning them early in the morning before it’s too warm or doing it on a day where there’s not much sun, it’ll be less likely to leave smudge marks or grime. Plus, if you do it early enough in the day, there might still be dew on the panels that has softened the dirt or buildup, making it easier to remove!

3. Don’t use hard materials that could scratch the surface of the panels. 

By using a squeegee tool and sponge, you’re ensuring that the soft materials won’t damage the panels with scuffs or scratches.  The sponge side of the tool can scrub off any grime and the squeegee side can smoothly remove the soap and water without leaving a streaky mess.

On that same note, use a regular hose with a gentler water pressure. Using a pressure washer is far too rough on the panels and could do more damage than good! There’s no need to blast water onto the panels, a garden hose and a mild detergent can work wonders against dirt, pollen, animal droppings, and more. 

How Often Do Solar Panels Need to be Cleaned?

Like we mentioned before, solar panels will still work just fine with a little dirt and dust on them, but they work best when they’re clean. That being said, it’s up to you to determine how often you should clean your panels. A study done at UC San Diego showed that panels that went 145 days without being cleaned lost about 7.4 percent of their operating capacity; if you want your system to operate at peak efficiency, you might want to clean them every few months. However, if you live in an area with adequate rainfall, Mother Nature might do the job for you.

Maintaining Your Solar System

While keeping your solar panels clean is a great way to maintain your system, we recommend also focusing on troubleshooting and frequent monitoring to ensure that everything is running smoothly. Solar panels are built to last for at least 25 years, but can easily reach a lifespan of up to 40 years if taken care of properly. We want to reiterate that the safest option for how to clean solar panels is to hire a professional service, but if you insist on doing it yourself, remember to follow our steps! Your safety is more important than having squeaky clean panels. 

If you aren’t prepared to go the DIY route, clean solar panels are just a phone call away! Contact Sun Service Specialists today if you’re in need of a professional solar panel cleaning service that you can trust.