We know that solar panel maintenance is a top concern for many. The first thing to know about caring for your solar panels is there isn’t much to it. One of the things that makes solar panels so great is that they’re so low-maintenance but that doesn’t mean they’re no-maintenance!
Why Care for Your Solar Panels
Your solar panels are a big investment and you should treat them that way. Just like your car you make sure to wash it every now and then to keep it in good condition. This is even more important for solar panels as it can actually affect how much electricity your solar panels are producing.
Just like on your car or house windows, dirt, dust and grime naturally build up over time. This dirty coating blocks your solar panels from absorbing the maximum amount of sunshine. Some suggest that this can reduce electricity output from 15% – 50% depending on how dirty your panels are. That’s a huge hit to your electricity output!
In many areas of the United States rain showers are enough to keep your panels clean and working well. But out here in the Mountain West we don’t get much rain and when we do it only helps to make things dirtier. The other major weather problem that we get questions about is snow and how to deal with it.
How to Clean Your Solar Panels
1. Follow Manufacturer’s Guidelines
First of all it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with what your panel manufacturer recommends. You don’t want to clean your panels in such a way that might damage them and void your warranty. So be sure to find out how your panels should be cleaned.
2. Hose Them Down
Some people find that simply hosing down their solar panels with a garden hose every now and then does the job. Be sure to do this in the morning or early afternoon. As the day goes on the panels will heat up and drenching them in cold hose water might cause the glass panels to crack or break.
3. Use a Solar Cleaning Kit
You can also buy solar panel cleaning kits that come with sponge/squeegee on an extendable pole to allow you to reach your panels. These sometimes come with special solar panel cleaning solutions that will leave your panels cleaning and streak free. You might also find that warm soapy water does the trick but whatever you do be sure to pick a non-abrasive cleaner that won’t leave streaks or residue.
4. Hire Professionals
If you don’t feel comfortable getting to the panels yourself because of how they’re positioned or you just don’t have time, you can always call in the professionals. It’s common to get your windows cleaned professionally why not your solar panels? Especially when the cleanliness of your solar panels is a matter of money.
5. Clearing Snow From Your Panels
Out here in the Mountain West snow is one of the biggest concerns we hear about from people considering solar panels. We understand. You don’t want snow to damage or block your panels. You also don’t want to fall off a roof trying to clear the snow from your panels either.
It’s true that when solar panels are covered in snow they’re blocked from the sun and so they don’t produce electricity but solar panels are self-clearing for the most part. If your panels are set up at an angle of 35 degrees or steeper, the snow will eventually slide right off. A combination of gravity, slick panels and sun helps that to happen pretty quick. Also keep in mind that the heat rising from your home will also help to accelerate this process even if the sun isn’t shining.
While snow if a big concern for many customers before getting their solar system installed it’s certainly not a complaint we hear about from past customers.
How Often to Clean Your Panels
How often you clean your panels is really up to you and how dirty your panels are. Let your panels tell you when they need to be cleaned. Keep an eye on your output levels. If they start to decrease (in a way that isn’t related to shorter days) then it might be time to give those bad boys a bath.
You can also just make it a routine to clean your solar panels twice a year – once for spring cleaning and once for fall cleaning/winter prep.
Remember solar panels are supposed to be low-maintenance so you don’t need to go overboard with how often you clean your panels. Keep an eye on them and let your panels tell you when they should be cleaned.
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