There is a lot of debate around solar panel cleaning. Some homeowners and installers stand by the fact that you don’t need to wash them to produce the most electricity, but others claim that they should be cleaned every now and again to keep their efficiency up.
Most solar panel systems are self-cleaning, as rain water will wash away dirt that gets on the panels. So all you really need to do to keep solar panels working efficiently is keep them unshaded and safely check over them every now and again to look for signs of damage.
But if you do want to clean your solar panels, here’s what you need to know.
What to clean your solar panels with
Most of the time, your panels will just need a rinse down with a garden hose. There’s no need to use cleaning products, especially abrasives. Never use these types of products as they can scratch and remove the coating on solar panels which will encourage more dirt to build up later on.
If a garden hose won’t get rid of some stains, you could use a soft brush, cloth or sponge to wipe over the panels. Just wipe in small circles.
It’s best to dry your panels with a soft cloth if it’s safe to do so, as this will stop a build up of salt or calcium from the water.
How often you should clean your panels
How often you need to clean your solar panels will depend on where you live and how dirty they get. If they are exposed to lots of dirt, leaves and bird droppings they’ll need cleaning more than those that aren’t.
Most solar panels won’t need cleaning any more than twice a year. Remember that the more you touch your panels, the more likely you are to damage them.
Keeping safe during solar panel cleaning
To prevent injuring yourself, you should use a telescopic brush or cloth to clean your solar panels. You could slip or fall if you get up on your roof.
Never attempt to clean your solar panels when they are or have been in direct sunlight, as they will be extremely hot and cold water could cause them to crack.
Since solar panels can’t be turned off in the day, you should take care when cleaning them to prevent shocks.
Overall, if you’re happy with generating enough electricity to power your home and sell some back to the grid to get the Feed-in Tariff payments, you probably don’t need to worry about solar panel cleaning. But if you want to maximise their efficiency, it’s probably worth cleaning them once or twice a year.
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