How To Clean Solar Panels At Home

Solar panels can gather quite a bit of dirt, dust, and other gunk on them, so it’s important to clean this system to prevent any malfunctions or safety hazards. 

A clean solar panel will also produce more solar power compared to a dirty one. Though many homeowners prefer a DIY approach, you can also get professional help

For efficient solar panel cleaning, you need professional cleaners who will follow industry protocols and use appropriate safety equipment.

In this article, we will share some tips for cleaning solar panels at home.

Table of Contents

Do Solar Panels Need to be Cleaned?

In short, yes they do!

You should keep solar panels clean because they acquire dust to a great degree that reduces photovoltaic activity by up to 60%. Besides dirt and debris, fallen leaves and bird droppings also block sunlight, impacting solar performance of the panels. 

Another reason why you should clean solar panels efficiently is because of the angle they’re stationed at. Solar panels should be installed at a tilt but with flat arrays, rainwater can easily accumulate, leaving behind muddy residue that sticks to the surface.

But proper-angled arrays don’t experience the same problem. This is because the water slides down, keeping your panels free from dust and debris. This self-cleaning solution may work initially but should still consider proper solar panel cleaning services at some point.

How Often Do You Clean Solar Panels? 

According to the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), solar panels lose around
30% of their efficiency if not cleaned properly. 

Solar panel cleaning cycles depend on many factors, like your geographical location and surrounding pollutants. Panels installed in dust-prone areas, like the farmlands or main roads, require more frequent cleaning.

Considering how harsh the Australian climate can be, your solar panels may need cleaning once every six months. As a general rule of thumb, we recommend cleaning solar panels when there’s a dent in energy production.

How to Clean Solar Panels the Right Way? 

Whether you’re a homeowner or a commercial setup with a solar panel system, you need the right tools to clean solar panels safely and efficiently. Regardless of the panel size, you can follow these steps for efficient solar panels:

Use a Water or Garden Hose from Ground-Level 

The safest cleaning method to properly maintain solar panels is a ground-level hose. Using a water spray is not only easy but also very flexible, as it washes away dirt, bird droppings, and other debris. If you’re cleaning solar panels on the roof, a garden hose is ideal as there’s less risk of falling.

Use Isopropyl Alcohol as a Cleaning Solution 

Best for cleaning delicate surfaces, isopropyl alcohol helps remove oily smudges, grease stains, and grime. The solution is both strong and effective, clearing away the surface without leaving any marks or scratches. If you’re new to solar panel cleaning, avoid detergent or soap for stubborn stains.

Use a Plastic Scourer, Soft Brush, or a Soft Cloth

A soft cloth or brush has a mild effect on the panel surface, preventing any scratches from forming. You can also use old fabrics to clean solar panels but they shouldn’t have any abrasive elements. Additionally, a plastic scourer is excellent for removing scum after it’s been hosed down with water.

Use Vinegar to Remove Scum and Dirt 

Vinegar is an all-purpose cleaner that is readily available in your kitchen and cost effective. It helps keep metallic and crystal objects clean without affecting the surface in a harsh way. You can dilute the vinegar with two cups of water and half a teaspoon of detergent to create a natural cleaning solution.

Invest in Automated Cleaning Technology 

To ensure solar panel maintenance, you can
install devices (like a robot or drone) to monitor solar performance. Some tools include photodiodes in their mechanisms to monitor dirt build-up. Such tools also allow solar farm operators to identify an ideal cleaning time to ensure optimal solar performance. While this solution may be useful for commercial systems or solar farms, it’s not an ideal cleaning solution for homeowners.

Brush Away Loose Material and Water Streaks 

Remove any loose material like dirt or grime with a good quality soft brush before you begin anything. When dealing with hard water stains, avoid brushes of any kind, especially if you’re cleaning after a long period. Instead, you can scrub off any excess water from the surface with a high quality squeegee.

Use Safety Equipment for Solar Panel Cleaning 

Use a safety harness when cleaning your solar panels to prevent any mishaps, especially if you’re on the roof. We also recommend wearing a hard hat when doing the job but it’s best to consult a professional cleaner as they use power tools and follow safety precautions to ensure proper cleaning and upkeep.

Key Takeaways

Need Maintenance Advice or Services for Your Solar Panels or System? Contact HCB Solar 

Looking for residential
solar panel cleaning experts

If you’re worried about damaging your solar panel system during a cleaning job, speak to our experts at HCB Solar. We have a dedicated local team who will examine your unique property and help you achieve solar power efficiency. Contact our experienced solar installation team today!

Related Articles