Cleaning Solar Panels


With a streamlined design and no moving parts, solar panels are pretty easy to care for– it’s rare to need repairs. One type of maintenance you may want to consider, though, is cleaning off your panels. This can help maximize their efficiency so you’re able to generate more power.

Over time, dust and dirt can settle on solar panels so slightly less sunshine reaches them. Depending on your location, you may have more grime– if you live near sources of pollution like freeways, airports, or factories, or in a very dusty area, your solar panels may get dirtier than usual. Pollen, leaves, and other debris can also land on your solar panels.

How to clean solar panels

The manufacturer of your panels will have specific recommendations for cleaning, so check your manual first before jumping in. In general, it’s possible to rinse off your solar panels using a garden hose while standing on the ground. You shouldn’t have to get up on the roof. Only the glass top of the panels needs to be cleaned; don’t try to clean off the wiring underneath.

If your solar panels get especially dirty, you may need to climb up on your roof, where they can be cleaned most thoroughly. Pick a cooler time of day to work, because the panels can get very hot after being in full sunshine. Follow your manufacturer’s instructions for turning off the panels– you shouldn’t be up on the roof next to high-voltage wiring unless the power is off!

Washing off solar panels is similar to washing a window; you don’t need any special equipment. Fill a bucket or spray bottle with warm soapy water, and wipe off the panels with a sponge or soft cloth. You can either air-dry the panels or dry them with a cloth or squeegee.

How often should I clean my solar panels?

If your panels don’t get very dusty and it rains fairly often in your area, that may be enough to keep them clean. It depends on your climate. If you live in California, where it tends to rain through the winter and stop in the spring, early spring might be a good time to do an annual cleaning. In some areas, there’s a little more pollution in the air in the wintertime, which is another reason to clean on that schedule. Cleaning off your panels in the spring also prepares you for the season when you’ll get the most sun.

If you live in an area where leaves fall in the autumn, you may need to clean them off the panels (the position of trees is also something that your solar installer will consider when choosing where to place your solar panels, which should help minimize coverage from leaves). In winter climates, you may also need to occasionally sweep snow off your solar panels, though it may also quickly melt off by itself. Talk to your installer about their recommendations for cleaning in your climate.

Installation

The angle of your solar panels will also have an impact on how often they need to be cleaned. Most solar panels on rooftops are installed at an angle, and that makes it easier for rain to clean panels off. It’s unlikely that they will be installed flat because the angle helps the panel collect the maximum amount of sunshine, but flat panels would be more likely to require cleaning. If you think your panels may require frequent cleaning because of your particular climate, you can consider the option of ground-mounted panels during installation. These are within easy reach to clean, and can also be adjusted throughout the year to be at the ideal angle for getting the most sun.

Cleaning services and automatic cleaners

For those who want to give their solar panels a thorough cleaning without getting on the roof, there are a couple of options. Depending on your location, you may be able to hire a company that specializes in cleaning solar panels. If your panels are difficult to reach, you can also consider installing equipment that automatically washes the panels using nozzles that spray soap and water. Talk to your solar installer about the options. Need help finding a good installer? Sign up with PURE to get connected to a skilled solar installer in your neighborhood, and to get a great deal on solar.