Do Solar Panels Need To Be Cleaned?

Three years ago, we invested in solar power for our home.  We installed panels for renewable energy production, and also we installed a solar hot water system.  Our neighbor is now looking at installing a similar system and asked me a question I really didn’t know the answer to, “Do solar panels need to be cleaned?” 

Cleaning my solar panels is something I had never even thought about.  The panels are on the roof, so I don’t see them. They are “out of sight and out of mind.”  

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I did some investigation and was surprised by what I discovered.


What Causes Solar Panels to Get Dirty?

It turns out that solar panels do get dirty.  They collect grime, dust, and bird droppings.  My solar panels were very dirty after collecting three years worth of dust and droppings buildup.  They looked like a window that had not been washed in a long time.

What Causes Solar Panels to Get DirtyPin

Do Dirty Solar Panels Effect Electricity Generation?

Dirty panels in your solar system do affect energy production.  A thick layer of dust will block some of the sun’s rays and reduce solar cells’ efficiency. 

My rooftop solar system was dirty, and after I cleaned it, we saw a 10% increase in energy production.  This increase in energy output will help reduce our electricity bill.

How To Clean Solar Panels

Cleaning the solar panels was easy.  I used soapy water and a sponge to clean them, in the same way I clean the outside of my windows. This removed the dust and bird droppings.  I finished off using a pressure washer to dislodge any other buildup.

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How To Clean Solar PanelsPin

Before cleaning, I contacted the solar panel manufacturer to ensure I would not damage the solar array.  They told me to be careful not to scratch the panels.  So I did not use any abrasive sponge.  They recommended a soft brush to remove dust particles.

Safety is an important thing when you are working on your roof.  Please make sure you are safe when performing this cleaning task.

How Often Should You Clean Solar Panels

How often you clean your panels depends on where you live.  If you receive frequent rainfall, this will dislodge a lot of dust.  If you have a lot of problems with bird droppings, you will need to clean more often.

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Check your monitoring system for solar output, and if you see it drop, you may need to give your panels a quick clean.

Pay Attention to Roof Safety

Our solar panels are on our roof, so I pay attention to safety tips when I go onto the roof to clean them.  It is easy to slip on a roof when it is wet and cleaning the panels with soapy water makes my roof slick.  I use a harness when I am on the roof to help stop falls.

Our New Solar Panel Cleaning Schedule

After we saw the 10% increase in efficiency after cleaning, we have now implemented a new cleaning schedule.  We hope this will reduce our energy bill and keep our solar energy system working at maximum efficiency.

  1. During Summer.  If we have had infrequent rain, we will regularly spray our solar panels with water from our garden hose.  This will remove some of the dust buildups, just like rainwater.  We don’t get up on the roof for this, and we spray from the ground.
  2. Check Our Production Efficiency.  We now pay extra attention to the statistics from our solar installation.  We want our system to run at optimal efficiency.  If we see a decrease in efficiency, we will investigate.
  3. We Now Clean Our Solar Panels When We Wash Our Windows.  We have added our solar farm to our window washing schedule.  This adds a small amount of work to this task, and we use the same equipment.
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Keeping your solar panels clean will help keep your system running at optimal performance.  Having clean photovoltaic panels should not take a lot of time or effort, and it will help reduce your electric bill.