Solar Panel Cleaning: A Guide

California has seen an exponential rise in residential solar panel installation in 2020. This surge is linked to a rule set by the Building Standards Commission, which states that solar panels would be a mandatory feature in all new houses in California. Solar panels accumulate dirt and debris with time and should be cleaned regularly. According to Google, tilted panels don’t require as much cleaning as flat installed alternatives. This postulation was backed by another study by a team of engineers at the University of California, San Diego. They found that a tilt as minimal as five degrees can help debris slide off the panels.

Tilted or flat, your solar panels do require occasional cleaning. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you get started.

When Should You Get Solar Panels Cleaned?

Solar panels that are regularly cleaned tend to produce 3.5% to 5.1% more electricity than those that aren’t. It would be best if you considered cleaning your solar panels in the following conditions:

  • Areas that don’t receive much rainfall – like the Southwestern United States – accumulate more dust. Clean your solar panels when the dust is visible.
  • Seasons like autumn and winter bring fallen leaves and snow. Timely removal of these hindrances will ensure optimal performance.
  • If the solar panels in your house are installed tilted, rainwater will slide off easily. If not, you’ll have to wipe it off when it rains.

Pro tip: Notice the change in power output before and after cleaning the panels to figure out how often you should be cleaning them. Try different times of the year. Take notes and evaluate them.

Why Should You Get Your Solar Panels Cleaned?

Dust, Leaves, and Water – Common Blockers

Dust leads to other problems beyond the regular buildup of grime. The buildup’s exact location also plays a significant role in how it affects your system. A bit of dust has a minimal effect as light can pass through it, and the rain can easily wash it off. One should remember that fallen leaves also block sunlight. When water gathers on flat top panels, it evaporates, leaving muddy residues. With an accretion of dust and leaves, the efficiency of the solar panels decreases by five percent, which equals a $20 loss in your electricity bill.

According to the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, thirty percent of energy yield is lost every year if the solar panels are not regularly cleaned.

Bird Droppings

Solar panels are a warm nesting area for different birds. This means you’ll notice an increase in droppings. Bird droppings on your solar panels are more damaging than a layer of dust. If you have trees near your house, they’ll attract birds. This will lead to a buildup of dried bird droppings over time and obstruct the panels from catching the sunlight.

If your panels have string inverters, they can help you detect the location of the bird dropping, and you can easily remove it. But if the panels are covered in bird droppings, they’ll malfunction and you’ll need a professional cleaning service to fix the damage.

How Should You Clean Your Solar Panels?

Make sure you read the manufacturer’s instructions manual for shutting down the system before cleaning. Try to use a long-handled implement and avoid going on the roof.

Inspect the panels and brush off any loose dirt. If there is gunk in the corners of the panels, spray them off with water. A nozzle attachment on your garden hose will make your squeegeeing job easier.

Avoid using metal objects, like a ball of steel wool, to clean bird droppings. It will cause scratches on your solar panel and affect its efficiency. Instead, use dishwashing detergent and a rag.

Hire a Professional Cleaning Service

If you’re in Modesto, CA, and can’t clean your solar panels from the ground, don’t head to the roof. It’s not safe. Instead, get them cleaned by a professional service like Birds Window and Gutter Cleaning.

We have the appropriate equipment to safely reach your roof and leave your solar panels squeaky clean so that your residential energy production is maximized. Our services also include moss removal, residential pressure washing, and gutter cleaning.

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