25 June 2024
solar panel cleaning

Solar panels are a popular and eco-friendly energy solution in Australia, taking advantage of the abundant sunshine. However, keeping your solar panels clean is essential to maintain their efficiency and maximize energy output. Dirty panels can reduce energy production by up to 20%, so regular cleaning is crucial. This guide will walk you through the steps to safely and effectively clean your rooftop solar panels.

Why Cleaning Solar Panels is Important

Solar panels can accumulate dirt, dust, bird droppings, leaves, and other debris over time. This build-up blocks sunlight from reaching the photovoltaic cells, thereby reducing the solar panels’ efficiency. Regular cleaning ensures optimal performance and extends the lifespan of your solar panels.

Safety First

Before you start cleaning your solar panels, it’s essential to consider safety. Working on a roof can be dangerous, so follow these safety tips:

  • Work with a Partner: Always have someone with you in case of an emergency.
  • Use Safety Gear: Wear non-slip shoes, a helmet, and a harness if possible.
  • Check the Weather: Avoid cleaning on rainy or windy days to prevent slips and falls.
  • Ladder Safety: Ensure your ladder is stable and on level ground. Always follow the 4-to-1 rule (for every four feet of height, place the base of the ladder one foot away from the wall).
  • Turn Off the System: Shut down the solar panel system according to the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid any risk of electrical shock.

When to Clean Solar Panels

The best time to clean your solar panels is in the early morning or late afternoon. Cleaning during these times ensures that the panels are cool, preventing the water from evaporating quickly and leaving streaks or water spots. Additionally, avoid solar panel cleaning in the middle of a hot day to reduce the risk of thermal shock, which can damage the panels.

Materials You Will Need

  • Soft-bristled brush or a sponge
  • Hose with a spray nozzle
  • Bucket of soapy water (use mild, biodegradable soap)
  • Squeegee with a plastic blade
  • Extension pole (if necessary)
  • Soft cloth or microfiber towel
  • Safety gear (gloves, helmet, non-slip shoes, harness)

Steps to Clean Your Solar Panels

Step 1: Inspect the Panels Before starting, inspect your panels for any visible damage, such as cracks or loose wiring. If you notice any issues, contact a professional before proceeding.

Step 2: Rinse with Water Use a hose with a spray nozzle to rinse off the loose dirt and debris. Avoid using high-pressure washers as they can damage the panels.

Step 3: Prepare Soapy Water Fill a bucket with water and add a small amount of mild, biodegradable soap. Avoid harsh chemicals as they can damage the surface of the panels and reduce their efficiency.

Step 4: Clean with a Soft Brush or Sponge Dip the soft-bristled brush or sponge into the soapy water and gently scrub the surface of the panels. Be gentle to avoid scratching the panels. For stubborn spots, let the soapy water sit for a few minutes before scrubbing again.

Step 5: Rinse Thoroughly Once you’ve scrubbed the panels, rinse them thoroughly with the hose to remove all the soap residue.

Step 6: Squeegee for a Streak-Free Finish Use a squeegee with a plastic blade to remove any remaining water from the panels. Start from the top and work your way down to ensure a streak-free finish.

Step 7: Dry with a Soft Cloth Finally, use a soft cloth or microfiber towel to dry any remaining water spots.

Professional Solar Panel Cleaning Services

If you’re uncomfortable working on your roof or your panels are hard to reach, consider hiring a professional cleaning service. Professionals have the right equipment and experience to clean your panels safely and effectively.

Maintenance Tips

  • Regular Inspections: Check your panels every few months for dirt and debris build-up.
  • Monitor Performance: Keep an eye on your energy output. If you notice a significant drop, it might be time for a cleaning.
  • Seasonal Cleaning: In areas with high pollen, dust, or bird activity, consider cleaning your panels more frequently, especially during spring and autumn.

Conclusion

Regularly cleaning your solar panels is essential for maintaining their efficiency and prolonging their lifespan. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can ensure that your panels are operating at their maximum potential, harnessing the abundant Australian sunshine to power your home. Remember, safety first! If in doubt, don’t hesitate to hire a professional. Clean panels mean more energy savings and a better return on your solar investment.

Happy cleaning!

Also read:

What are Shingled Solar Panels?

How to Mount Flexible Solar Panels?