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How to Clean Your Solar Panels

Solar panels don’t have any moving parts and they don’t need regular oil changes (thankfully), but to get the best out of your solar system, they still require a little bit of elbow grease from time to time.

Safety note: Before you start, jumping on your roof is a risky business at any time. When you’re bringing equipment with you, it’s even more dangerous. Make sure you take the appropriate steps to ensure your safety when on your roof and near electrical equipment.

With that out of the way, let’s get down to the nitty gritty:

 

1. How to tell if your panels need cleaning

The first thing you should consider is if your panels need cleaning at all. You should be cleaning them if you notice a decrease in performance or if you can physically see that your panels are dirty.

 

2. What time of day to clean

If you’re going to clean your panels, the best time is when the sun is low in the sky, so early morning or late afternoon. The sun can evaporate water on your panels while you clean, leaving streaks on your panels and casting shadows.

You can clean during the day while the sun is up, but you’ll need to be a bit more pedantic about drying your panels to avoid streaks. A squidgee is an ideal tool to clean the water off your panels.

 

3. Shut down your Solar System

Solar panels, although made of glass and PV, are still electrical instruments. Bit of a no brainer, but for your safety you should shut down the system before cleaning or maintaining them.

 

4. Rinsing

To rinse you panels, plain water from the hose will do. Definitely avoid using high pressure water or abrasive chemicals and brushes to clean your panels. You don’t want to be using anything that can scratch or damage your panels.

We recommend squidgee sponges or a soft cloth.

 

5. Cleaning Stubborn Grime

If grime is stubborn, you can cover a coarse sponge or a brush in a cloth and use that to clean the panels. By dampening with a cloth, you will reduce the risk of scratches, which cast shadows on your PV cells and reduce effectiveness.

 

6. Cleaning oily stains

If you’re getting oily stains, you can use isopropyl alcohol to remove them. When using that alcohol, best practice is to spot clean the specific areas only.

 

7. Panel condition checklist

While you’re up there, you’ll have the opportunity to give the panels a quick inspection and make sure  they’re in good working order. Here’s a few things you should watch out for when you’re on the job:

  • Cracks or chips in glass
  • Supporting frames are secure
  • Fittings and cables are secure and in good condition
  • Review inverter for recorded faults
  • Ensure inverter cooling vents are free of debris
  • Ensure isolator switch is in good condition and is accessible
  • Check trees or branches don’t impede sunlight to panels
  • Ensure panels do not have anything resting or leaning on them
  • Panels are free of bird droppings or bird nests.

If you notice major issues with your solar panels, you should contact your solar installer or manufacturer for assistance.

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