How to Clean Solar Panels the Right Way

A clean solar panel is an efficient solar panel. It will produce more energy for your home or business, but it will also last longer. In this blog post, we’ll discuss how to clean solar panels—both by hand and with special equipment. We’ll also cover some of the causes of dirty solar panels and how to prevent them from happening in the first place. Stay tuned for more information on cleaning solar panels and keeping them running at full capacity.

Learn in This Article

  • What Causes Dirty Solar Panels
  • Ways of Cleaning Solar Panels: Equipment
  • How to Clean Solar Panels from Dirt Manually: DIY Step by Step Guide
  • How to Clean Solar Panels from Snow
  • How Much Can Cleaning Solar Panels Impact Energy Production
  • How Often Should Solar Panels Be Cleaned
  • When to Contact Professional Solar Panel Cleaners
  • Our Takeaway

What Causes Dirty Solar Panels

Due to solar panel placement and installation (typically on the roof), many things can cause solar panels to become dirty, reducing the amount of energy they produce by up to 30%. Here are the main ones:

  • Exposure to the elements—Over time, dust, pollen, and other airborne particles will settle on the panels and block the sunlight that hits them.
  • Bird droppings—While this may not seem like a big deal, the acid in bird droppings can eat away at the panel’s surface and cause permanent damage. In addition, if the droppings are left to dry, it can be challenging to clean solar panels without causing any damage.
  • Leaves—If your home’s surrounded by trees, leaves can fall on your solar panels. As leaves decay, they can cause mildew and attract insects, damaging your solar panels as a result. 
  • Human activity—If you live in an area with a lot of traffic, chances are your panels will get dirty more quickly.

Do I Need to Turn the Solar Panels off to Clean Them

Absolutely! Before you start with solar panel cleaning, it’s vital to turn them off. That’s especially true if you’re cleaning with water, or you’ll be at a high risk of getting electrocuted. Also, you should follow the shut-down protocol from your solar system manual.

Ways of Cleaning Solar Panels: Equipment

You can clean your solar panels by hand, but if you’re feeling splurgy, you can invest in some smart or robotic solar panel cleaning equipment. Let’s see all the equipment that might come in handy for cleaning solar panels.

Solar Panel Cleaning Robot

These remotely controlled robots are designed to clean your panels while still mounted on your roof. They use special brushes and cleaners to reach all panel areas, providing a thorough clean without you having to do any work.

Solar panel cleaning robots are relatively new on the market, so they can be expensive. However, if you have many panels or live in an area with a lot of dirt and debris, they may be worth the investment. Also, if you’re wondering how to clean solar panels from the ground, get yourself a robot helper.

Brushes and Sponges with No Soap

If you’re washing solar panels by hand, you’ll need to use the right tools. Don’t ever use abrasive sponges, no matter how persistent the dirt on your solar panels is. Instead, get a soft-bristled brush or a soft sponge (or a soft cloth).

Since harsh soaps and window cleaners are not the best solar panel cleaning solution (their prolonged use may lead to solar panel material disintegration), you may also want to add a touch of vinegar to the water for extra cleaning power.

Although cleaning solar panels with vinegar is probably the best, you can also look into some solar panel cleaning products that won’t damage your solar panels and leave any residue.

Can you clean solar panels with tap water? Yes, but it would be best to use distilled or deionized water, as that type attracts chemicals better and doesn’t leave a hard layer of minerals. Of course, you can use tap water, provided you remove the excess water. 

Waterless Vibration Cleaning

Waterless vibration cleaning is a new method of solar panel cleaning that doesn’t require any water at all. This is perfect for solar panel maintenance in regions lacking water. Instead, special equipment creates vibrations that loosen dirt and debris from the panel’s surface.

Once the debris has been loosened, it can be removed with a soft brush or cloth. Waterless vibration cleaning is still relatively new, so it may not be available in all areas.

Electrostatic Dust Removal

Electrostatic dust removal is another new method of solar panel cleaning. This method uses electrostatic induction to attract dirt and debris to a special device. This is also a waterless method suitable for dry areas.

Nanoparticle Coating That Prevents Dirt Accumulation

If you’re looking for self-cleaning solar panels, you can’t get closer than this! A new nano-coating can be applied to solar panels to prevent dirt accumulation. This repellent coating creates a barrier that dirt and debris can’t penetrate and remains hydrophobic for years. If you can get your hands on this product, it might be the best way to clean solar panels if you ask us.

Manual Cleaning

Cleaning solar panels by hand is the most common method and the least expensive. And that’s the method we’ll explain in detail. But first, you need to prepare all the necessary equipment, both for the solar panel cleaning kit and for your safety:

  • Solar panel cleaning equipment: a soft sponge, cloth, or brush with soft bristles, warm water (preferably deionized or distilled), a small amount of vinegar, or a special solar panel cleaning liquid soap and garden hose.
  • Safety equipment: Wear sturdy shoes and gloves, and always use a ladder or other stable platform when working on your panels. You should also use fall protection equipment, just in case. It’s also a good idea to have someone present when you’re cleaning your solar panels, just in case something happens.

How to Clean Solar Panels from Dirt Manually: DIY Step-by.Step Guide

If you don’t feel like hiring a solar panel cleaning service, here’s a simple but detailed guide on how to clean solar panels DIY style!

Step One: Choose a Cool Time of the Day 

The best time of day to clean solar panels is in the morning before they get too hot. This will help prevent the soap solution from drying on the panel and will also help prevent any streaks from forming. And, you’ll agree, it’s best to work when the sun isn’t beating down on you. Also, check to see if the rain is forecast. 

Step Two: Dislodge Dust, Leaves, or Debris with a Soft Brush

You will start by using a dry brush to clean solar panels. The key is to remove the first layer, and then you can take care of the fine details. Just make sure you don’t scrub too hard, or you may scratch the panels’ surface and damage them. 

Step Three: Spray Panels with a Garden Hose

Now we’ll learn how to wash solar panels. Start by rinsing your panels with clean water from a hose set to low pressure. Rinse the entire surface of each panel. This will take care of that debris you’ve dislodged and wash it off the panels, so you can proceed with the cleaning.

Step Four: Scrub with Water and Soft Brush, Cloth, or Sponge

Once you’ve rinsed the panels, it’s time to start cleaning. You can use a soft cloth, sponge, a soft brush, warm water with a dash of diluted vinegar, or mild solar panel cleaning soap. Wet the cloth, brush, or sponge with warm water and gently wipe down the panel’s surface.

Step Five: Rinse and Dry

This is easy. Just use your garden hose on low pressure again. Make sure to remove any soap residue in case you opted for soapy solar panel cleaning products. Can you pressure wash solar panels, though? That’s a hard no! You don’t want to cause any damage.

One more thing to remember: if you use tap water to rinse solar panels, dry them with a soft cloth to avoid limescale. 

Step Six: Test Solar Panel Output

Meddling with electricity is always tricky, so we recommend checking out this excellent guide on how to test solar panel output provided by Lensun Solar.

How to Clean Solar Panels from Snow

If you live in an area where it snows, you’ll need to take special care of your solar panels. This is because snow can block sunlight from reaching the panel’s surface, reducing output. But how to clean snow and ice off solar panels, and with what? Here are some methods, tools, and devices you can use:

  • Soft brush or soft-bristled broom—These can gently remove the snow from the surface of the panel.
  • Roof rake—This is a special tool for removing snow and ice from roofs. However, be extra careful when cleaning solar panels.
  • Leaf blower—Using a leaf blower can help with removing light snow.
  • Garden hose and water—Use this method only if there’s no risk of freezing.
  • Install a heating system—This is a perfect solution, as it melts the snow right away.

How Much Can Cleaning Solar Panels Impact Energy Production

It’s been shown that cleaning solar panels can increase output by 30%. That means that if you’re not regularly cleaning your panels, you could be missing out on a lot of energy production.

How Often Should Solar Panels Be Cleaned

Now that you know how to clean your solar panels, let’s see how often it should be done. The frequency of solar panel cleaning will vary depending on your area.

If you live in a dusty area (like deserts), you’ll need to clean your panels more often, sometimes even once a week.

Polluted areas will also require more frequent solar panel cleaning. This is because pollution can settle on panels and cause a decrease in output. If you live in a polluted area, inspect your panels every week and clean them as necessary.

The same goes for an area with a lot of trees. Not only will you be dealing with fallen leaves and branches, but you’ll also have to take care of bird droppings.

In general, it’s a good idea to inspect your panels at least once a month. If you see dirt or debris, clean it off as soon as possible.

When to Contact Professional Solar Panel Cleaners

If you’re not comfortable cleaning your own solar panels, fear heights, or simply don’t have the time, you can always contact a professional solar panel cleaner. Just google “solar panel cleaning near me” and get a list of cleaners.

How Much Do Solar Panel Cleaning Services Cost

Most professional solar panel cleaners will offer a free estimate. Once you’ve received an estimate, you can decide whether or not to hire the cleaner.

If you decide to hire a professional solar panel cleaner, be sure to get references and read reviews before hiring anyone. That way, you’ll be sure you’re hiring a reputable company.

The cost of solar panel cleaning services will vary depending on the size of your system, the number of panels, and the frequency of cleaning. In general, the solar panel cleaning cost is between $100 and $350 per year.

Key Takeaways

Cleaning your solar panels is essential to maintain optimal energy production. Be sure to inspect your panels regularly and clean them as necessary. If you’re not comfortable cleaning your own solar panels, you can always contact a professional solar panel cleaner. If you decide to tackle that task manually, we hope our guide on how to clean solar panels will be of use to you. And who knows, maybe you’ll invest in some intelligent cleaning devices. Happy cleaning!