How To Clean Solar Panels Dust, Dirt And Snow
Solar panels are an awesome way of capturing power from our closest star. It's truly impressive that we have the technology here on earth that can capture energy from a nuclear furnace that is 96 million miles away. Knowing that fact may make it shocking to find out that just a few microns of dust and grime on your solar panels can interfere with and even totally shut down that process.
When dust, dirt, and snow build up on your solar panels, it can bring your off-grid system to a halt. For this reason, it's crucial to know how to clean your solar panels. Cleaning your solar panels regularly will ensure that they operate at their peak efficiency.
To clean your solar panels, the first thing you need to do is power your system off. After that, manually remove any dust or debris with soap and water. A sponge or rag can be used to clean the panel. Make sure to not use any harsh materials or solvents when cleaning your solar panels because they could damage the solar panel's surface. Most of the time simply hosing down your solar panels with a garden hose will do the job.
In this article, we will go over how to clean the dust, dirt, and snow off of your solar panels. We’ll also provide some basic dos and don'ts to help keep you on the right path.
How Often Do I Have To Clean My Solar Panels?
Solar panels should be cleaned every 6 to 12 months. There are ways to tell if your solar panels are dirty by analyzing their electrical output over time. But honestly, the easiest way to tell for sure is to just go check. So, get a ladder out of the shed, lean it against your house, and go up there and have a look!
If you live in an area that gets a regular amount of rain, then you may be able to just allow the rain to clean your panels. It's important to keep in mind, however, that you should not simply rely on this. Even if you live in a rainy climate, you should still go up there to make sure grime isn't building up on your panels.
If you have a microinverter system, then it's a lot easier to find out which panel is dirty. All you have to do is check the power output of the panels. If the panels are in the same amount of sunlight and facing the same way, yet one is outputting less power, chances are it's dirty.
How To Clean Solar Panels?
- Power off the system before cleaning
- Use a little soap if needed, water, and a garden hose to wash away the dirt, dust, and grime.
- Don't use a high amount of pressure to clean your solar panels, as this may damage them.
- Use a sponge or squeegee to wipe off excess water after you clean your solar panels.
How Do I Clean Snow From Solar Panels?
It’s best to use a soft brush to remove any snow that accumulates on your solar panels. Use smooth, slow brushing motions to gently wipe the snow off of the panel's surface. Whatever you do, don't try to scrape off any ice or frozen snow as this will almost certainly damage the panel’s surface.
If any ice remains on the panel after removing the snow allow time for the panel to warm back up now that it is cleared of the snow. After some time the ice that reminded should melt off allowing your panels to return to optimal efficiency.
What Needs To Be Considered When Cleaning A Solar Panel?
Cleaning a solar panel is easy, but there are still a few things that you should take into consideration.
- Solar panels can get very hot during operation. So, don't clean your solar panels in the middle of a hot afternoon, as you could crack the panels with a temperature shock. Clean your solar panels either early in the morning before they have gotten sun or late in the evening when the sun has begun to set. Always do a temperature check by placing your hand on the panel before using a hose or cleaning supplies on them.
- Water that is mineral rich, or 'hard', will damage solar panels over time. Instead, use a water softener or distilled water to clean your panels.
Benefits of Cleaning Solar Panels
Dirty solar panels produce 5% to 25% less energy, which is not insignificant. Microscopic particles build up on solar panels and block the energy-laden light from making its way to the photovoltaic elements.
Solar panels should be tilted at an angle if they are set up properly. This means that dirt, dust, grime, and other debris will build up along the frame toward the bottom. This area is often overlooked as most people simply clear the main surface of the panel.
As it turns out, Google did a study with their 1.6 MW solar farm in California. According to Google's findings, cleaning solar panels is the most effective way to maximize the amount of energy that they can produce.
In the study, the solar panels were left to accumulate debris for 15 months straight. After this period, Google engineers cleaned the panels. They were astonished when electricity production nearly doubled.
Recommendations For Keeping Solar Panels Clean
- Keep an eye on your solar energy output. If you never know what your normal power levels are, it will be hard to tell when they are not normal.
- If you think your panels might be dirty but aren't sure, you can always wait until after it rains and see if your energy production increases. It's best to just go up there and check the panels, though.
- If you live in a colder region, you will have to manually shake off any snow that builds up on your panels. In these areas, solar panels get the dirtiest in wintertime.
- Solar panels should be cleaned about every 6 months. Doing it any more than this is a waste of time and any less than this won't be nearly as effective.
- If you live near an airport, a major highway, or anything like that, then you can expect your solar panels to build up junk a lot more quickly than they would otherwise.
Dust, dirt, snow, and other debris can wreak havoc on your energy output as it builds up on your solar panels. In fact, if your solar panels get dirty enough, they will stop producing energy altogether. This is why it’s so important to know how to clean solar panels. Cleaning your solar panels on a regular basis makes it so that your system is always performing at its best.
Cleaning solar panels is simple. The first step is to power off the system. If it's a hot summer day, you may want to wait a while to let your solar panels cool because you add any water. This is to avoid temperature shock which could crack the panels. If hosing off the solar panels wasn’t enough, then use soap and water and some sort of sponge or rag to manually remove any dust or debris that is clinging to the surface of the panels. Don’t use harsh materials or other solvents because they can permanently damage the solar panel’s surface.
We hope this article helped you learn everything you wanted to know about how to clean your solar panels and remove dust, dirt, and snow. Thanks for reading!
Can I Connect A Solar Panel Directly to A Battery?
Setting up a solar system for the first time comes with a lot of questions and things to figure out. One of the most common is whether can you charge a battery directly from a solar panel. Well, the short answer is NO but you can do other things with power coming directly off a solar panel.