Solar panel installations are an excellent way to cut home energy costs, reduce fossil fuel consumption, assert your energy independence—and even make a profit by selling excess electricity to the local power grid! Proper system maintenance is, however, vital to optimizing these powerful benefits. In this solar panel cleaning guide, we’ll be exploring:
- Specific benefits of regular maintenance
- Best practices and preferred maintenance techniques
- Insights regarding professional cleaning services
Why Should You Maintain Your Solar Panels?
Solar installations require regular care and preventative maintenance. Environmental elements—such as dust, dirt, pollen, and precipitation—can all impede their performance. Leaves and other forms of organic debris pose similar problems, particularly in the autumn.
Bird droppings are yet another concern. Depending on where you live, this can be a year-round challenge.
Routine solar panel cleaning, care, and maintenance reduces the wear-and-tear, performance barriers, and efficiency losses associated with these issues. A regular maintenance schedule has multiple benefits, including the following:
Optimal Output Capacity
Dirt, debris, and other material can stop sunlight reaching the photovoltaic materials that generate electricity. As such, removing these obstacles helps improve energy output.
The insides of solar panels are packed with various technical components, including cables and support railings. Overexposure to the elements can cause these constituents to become weakened or compromised. This could amount to a potential safety hazard for both wildlife and humans interacting with the panels.
Preventative maintenance helps these components last longer, which improves your installation’s overall safety profile.
Regular solar panel cleaning and care are capable of dramatically extending your installation’s lifespan. Over time, this can lead to significant cost savings as you won’t have to replace damaged panels prematurely.
Furthermore, by adding professional inspections to your solar panel care routine, you’ll be able to detect problems that the untrained eye might miss. This, too, can help you avoid hefty repair and replacement costs by catching and correcting problems early on.
Solar Panel Cleaning: How Often Should You Do It?
Solar panel experts generally recommend inspecting your installation once a week. During these inspections, check for buildups of dirt, dust, and debris, as well as obvious signs of weather-related or other damage.
It’s also a good idea to inspect your solar installation after a severe weather incident, including:
- Wind storms
- Dust storms
- Heavy precipitation
If you notice debris, remove it right away. Should you detect any potentially serious issues, you may want to call in a professional.
In addition to this routine maintenance program, consider scheduling a professional solar panel cleaning at least twice per year. Early spring and late fall are appropriate milestones. Keeping to this type of annual schedule ensures panels are cleaned and inspected after times of the year most likely to bring inclement weather and natural debris.
How to Properly Maintain Your Solar Panels
You can take care of many routine solar panel maintenance needs yourself. This involves physically removing any debris that has built up on or around your installation as well as cleaning the panel surfaces.
Before you get started, keep these pro tips in mind:
Monitor System Efficiency
In addition to regular visual inspections, monitor your installation’s efficiency and electrical output. Cloudy days are obviously linked with lower output. However, if your system’s not performing as expected during clear, sunny weather, it could mean that a clean-up is long overdue.
Do not use any chemical-based cleaning or disinfecting agents on your solar panels. Instead, stick with water. Fill a pail with lukewarm water—or even use your garden hose on the gentlest effective setting.
Do Not Use Abrasive Tools
When it comes to cleaning tools, stick with soft sponges, brushes, squeegees, or microfiber cloths. Never use equipment with sharp or abrasive edges, such as rakes or wire brushes.
Wait Until Your Panels Are Cool
Solar panels can reach very high surface temperatures during periods of prolonged sun exposure. If you apply cool or cold water to hot panel surfaces, there’s a chance they might crack. Therefore, it’s better to clean solar panels in the morning or late evening. Alternatively, wait for an overcast day.
Do You Need Professional Solar Panel Cleaning Services?
Professional solar panel cleaning services can go a long way toward enhancing the performance and longevity of your system. That said, this comes with additional costs—and there are other issues to consider too. For this reason, it’s worthwhile weighing up the associated pros and cons before committing to a twice-yearly professional cleaning service.
Advantages of professional solar panel cleaning include:
- Time saving due to outsourcing cleaning tasks to a third party
- The benefit of experienced professionals who are knowledgeable about proper cleaning techniques
- Pro crews that are adept at detecting subtle signs of damage and other issues that may not be readily apparent to the untrained eye, likely saving you more costly repairs or replacements down the line
At the same time, these advantages need to be considered in the context of some potential drawbacks:
- Professional servicing increases your installation’s maintenance costs
- Appointments may not be immediately available if you have urgent cleaning or maintenance needs
- You will have to trust people you may not personally know
If you do elect to go with professional solar panel cleaning, first do your homework on local providers. Consult user-generated reviews of cleaning companies in your area, and collect recommendations from family, friends, and other trusted sources.
Source All Your Solar Panel Cleaning and Maintenance Products With Battle Born Batteries
If you’re looking to maximize the performance, efficiency, and longevity of your solar panel installation, Battle Born Batteries has all the know-how you’ll need. Our complement of solar products includes panels, charge controllers, mounting brackets, and hardware, as well as a huge selection of accessories.
Battle Born Batteries also carries a complete lineup of battery systems and products for camping, RVs, and off-grid living. You’ll find everything you need to outfit your mobile or stationary living quarters in our online store. You can also visit us in person if you’re near our headquarters in Reno, Nevada.
Ready to get started with your shopping? Visit Battle Born Batteries and find out how we can empower you.