How to Clean Solar Panels and How Often? Is it Really Necessary?

How Do I Clean My Solar Panels?

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August 23, 2019
how to clean your solar panels

If you’re considering solar panel installation, you might have wondered about their long-term maintenance. After all, you probably don’t want to keep climbing onto your rooftop just to clean the gunk that mother nature (or humankind) has left behind. 

The good news is that solar panels require little effort on your part. However, it’s likely that at some point you, or someone else, will need to clean them. 

 In most cases, we can count on mother nature to do the cleaning for us when it rains. But for those living in Los Angeles and elsewhere in the state, this can be a challenge. 

Although our sunny California climate makes solar panels ideal, frequent droughts mean we can’t always count on rainfall to do the cleaning. Also, seasonal windstorms can dump a lot of dirt, dust, and other debris on them. 

Does this mean that those of us living in the golden state have to clean more often? Well, that depends on what nature has in store for us that year. Will it be wet or dry? 

In either case, knowing how to clean your solar panels properly is beneficial for preserving their quality and efficiency. If your solar panels are more efficient, they will save you more money on energy bills. 

You have two options when it comes to cleaning your panels; you can DIY or hire a professional. 

Doing It Yourself: Cleaning Your Solar Panels

In most cases, soap and water are all you’ll need. However, depending on the type of solar panels you have, you’ll want to check the manufacturer’s specific maintenance recommendations. 

But generally speaking, solar panel cleaning doesn’t require special chemicals or equipment. In fact, the same items you use to wash your car at home (for the exception of polish and other harsh chemicals ) will work just fine. 

How Can You Tell if Your Panels Need Cleaning?

Perform a visual inspection and check for dust, leaves, bird droppings, and other obstructions. Take a good look at their physical condition. You’ll be able to tell right away if your panels require some cleaning. 

Be extremely careful when touching them. Remember that solar panels absorb heat from the sun and can get very hot. Choose a time of day when temperatures are cooler to do any maintenance. 

If you haven’t done a visual inspection, one thing to pay attention to is your electric bill. If you’ve noticed a decrease in power production despite having solar panels, this could be a sign that they are not working as efficiently as they should. 

Also, climate and average weather conditions will give you some idea of whether your solar panels are collecting debris or not. 

A Few Tips for Cleaning Your Solar Panels

Keep things simple and gentle for cleaning your solar panels. Follow these tips:

  • Use mild soap and water
  • Avoid scratching them. Don’t use anything abrasive to clean them. Instead, use a soft brush or sponge.
  • Do not rinse them with a high-pressure hose. Although they are resilient enough to withstand the elements, they do contain sensitive materials, and you can damage the cells if you’re not careful.
  • Do not wash your solar panels on hot days. Wait for conditions to cool down before your cleaning. 

Hiring a Professional Solar Cleaning Service

While cleaning your panels on your own can be a quick weekend project, some of us may have a hard time accessing our roof. Maybe it’s too high or has a steep slant. In either case, don’t risk injury trying to access your rooftop. Let someone else do the work for you. 

Many companies are offering solar panel cleaning, many of which are window cleaning businesses. As with any service, shop around and check on their reputation. What are past customers saying about the company? You’ll want to know ahead of time. 

Average Cost of Solar Panel Cleaning in Burbank, CA

The average rates for professional cleaning in the Burbank area are below $200 and can start as low as $70. The cost of cleaning will depend on your system size, and how many of your panels require cleaning. 

If you can access your roof but are short on time, we recommend you do a visual inspection before hiring a service. This way, you’ll know exactly how many panels need cleaning and won’t be tricked into a larger package. 

How Often Do I Need To Clean Them?

As we’ve mentioned before, weather and climate can dictate how often your panels need cleaning. If it’s an El Nino year, consider yourself lucky. If conditions are dry and windy, on the other hand, you might need to pull your ladder more than once. 

How often your solar panels need cleaning will depend on a case by case basis. Also, the position of your panels and whether they’re surrounded by trees that drop leaves on top will determine how often they need cleaning. On average, however, twice a year is generally enough. 

Clean Solar Panels Don’t Always Translate into Better Ones

While keeping your solar panels nice and clean is a good thing, it’s just one part of a solar system’s maintenance. To get the most out of their efficiency, you also need to make sure they are functioning properly. Solar panels are simple by design but can also be complicated. 

They are made of many internal components that affect how much sunlight they convert into usable electricity. Damage may not always be visible, so it is a good idea that a professional solar installer does a thorough inspection. 

Have any questions or want to receive a free solar panel quote? 

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