Cleaning photovoltaic solar panels correctly is an essential part of their maintenance, which will help to extend their lifespan. These panels are usually very exposed, on roofs and terraces, and it’s important to keep them clean. This means that they can easily get dirty and covered by leaves, branches, dust, pollen, or other contaminants.
Normally, this dirt washes off naturally with rainwater. However, this isn’t always the case, especially if you live in dry areas or areas with little rainfall.
Here at MyGreenHouse, we would like to share some tips and advice with you that we are sure will be very useful when looking after and maintaining your solar panels.
Cleaning solar panels, step by step
Even though you can hire a professional to do it, cleaning solar panels is something that many people can do themselves, always taking these three factors into account:
- Your safety comes first. In other words, you shouldn’t be climbing on to your roof to clean your solar panels thoroughly if it means putting yourself at risk. You can clean solar panels effectively by just using a hose from ground level. A brush and sponge will also help you with this task, as we’ll explain below.
- Don’t use chemicals. Solar panels should not be cleaned when dry, as sand and small particles can easily scratch the surface. Ideally, you should only use water, as some cleaning products contain very strong chemicals that can damage the photovoltaic cell and cause it to deteriorate. However, there are some exceptions.
- Choose the right time. Of course, you don’t need to clean the panels every day; once every six months or even once a year is sufficient. Ideally, choose a time of the day when the temperatures are lower – either early in the morning or late in the evening. Why is this important? Because if you clean the solar panels during the hottest times of the day, the extreme temperature difference between the water and the solar panels could damage the layer of glass that covers them. Besides, at these times of the day the sun is less intense and the photovoltaic panels won’t be producing much energy, and the cleaning will have little effect on their performance.
The most important thing in all cases is to consult your manufacturer or supplier’s instructions to see if there are any specific recommendations or information to take into account.
Regarding what tools you should use, we need to be practical here. The surface of the solar panels, as well as being the most exposed part to the elements, is also the most fragile.
Here are some tips and advice regarding the cleaning of solar panels:
- You can use a brush or a broom to remove leaves or surface elements that have accumulated.
- To clean the panels thoroughly, you should not use any kind of high-pressure sprayer or hose; a normal hose will suffice.
- If you decide to go up onto the roof to clean the solar panels yourself, you’ll only need a bucket of water and a sponge.
- As the panels are constantly exposed to the sun, you should only use lukewarm water to avoid thermal shock.
- When cleaning solar panels, you should use a soft, non-abrasive sponge, to avoid scratching the surface.
- You can clean the solar panels just with water (water without additives is very effective in these cases) or with some kind of neutral or low pH soap, preferably a “normal” hand-washing soap, or washing up liquid.
- Carefully wipe the surface with the sponge, in the same way you would clean your house or car windows.
- Use a hose and plenty of water to remove the soap afterwards.
The best way to carry out maintenance on your photovoltaic installation
Although the solar panels themselves are the most visible part, and cleaning them is very important, there are other steps you should take to maintain your photovoltaic installation well. You should keep an eye on the batteries and inverters, check for physical damage to the panels and their frames (cracks, fissures, etc.), check that the drainage holes are not obstructed, and verify that the terminals and electrical elements are correctly connected (ensuring there is no visible copper).
Do you still have any questions about cleaning your solar panels or the overall maintenance of your photovoltaic installation? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.