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How To Clean Solar Panels In 4 Easy Steps

two houses with solar panels on the roof

Solar panels are a great way to supplement your home’s power supply, save a few bucks, and help the environment. They have a steep upfront cost, but after installation, all you need to do is keep them clean.

Solar panels caked up with dirt, bird droppings, dust, and other grime won’t be able to absorb as much solar power, greatly reducing the amount of power they generate. It’s in your best interest to keep your solar panels so you can maximize your electricity savings.

It’s not that complicated to clean your solar panels. However, it’s risky to work on a ladder or roof at the best of times. Add in water, and you have the slippery reason why most people just hire a cleaning professional.

If you’re confident in your abilities, though, you can save a pretty penny by just cleaning them yourself. Let’s check out what you need to do.

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The first step is to turn off your solar system. You should consult your system’s documentation on the proper shut-down procedure, but usually, there’s a switch on the power inverter for AC systems. DC systems are different in that they need to be completely turned off.

Next, you’ll need to decide when to clean your panels. It’s essential that you choose a cool, shady time of day. If it’s blazing hot outside, the panels are very hot and will likely crack if sprayed with water. Not to mention that if water quickly evaporates off your panels from intense sunlight, it’ll leave grime.

You’ll also need to decide if it’s possible to clean your panels from the ground, which is easier but doesn’t get the panels as clean. If you want to clean your panels from the ground, it’s recommended to invest in a squeegee with a soft brush on one side and a plastic blade on the other side.

If you’re okay with working on your roof or a ladder and have fall arrest equipment, though, it’s best to get up there and clean them thoroughly.

solar panels installed on a large home
Image Credit: Vivint Solar, Unsplash

You Will Need:

  • Soft cloth
  • Soft nylon brush
  • Water hose with a nozzle
  • Mild soap
  • Fall arrest harness

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How To Clean Solar Panels: A Step-By-Step Guide

1. Erect Your Ladder

Set up your ladder as close to a 45-degree angle as possible. The steeper the angle you have to climb, the more you risk falling. If possible, tie a rope around the top rung of your ladder and tie the other end around a stable fixture on the roof. This will help give your ladder more stability.

2. Spray Down Your Panels

Spray water onto your solar panels. Don’t spray in the gaps between panels or the underside of the panels, because there may be small gaps in the casing that water can penetrate and ruin your solar cells. Do not spray water onto any other solar equipment except the face of the panels.

spraying down the solar panels
Image Credit: Marina Lohrbach, Shutterstock

3. Scrub & Wipe Down The Panels

It helps to bring a bottle of warm water with a small amount of mild soap so you don’t have to carry a lot of stuff up to your panels. Spray any stuck-on debris like bird droppings or dirt with the solution and gently scrape it off with the nylon brush. For panels that aren’t extremely dirty, you can just wipe them down with a soft cloth to clean the panel.

4. Wipe The Panels Dry

Using a dry cloth, wipe your panels dry. If you allow water to directly evaporate off them, it can leave behind grime, which defeats the purpose of cleaning them in the first place.

man wiping off the solar panels
Image Credit: Lev Kropotov, Shutterstock

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Can You Pressure Wash Solar Panels?

No, you should not pressure wash solar panels. It’s very tempting to do so because pressure washers spray a great distance, but the pressure of the water is apt to damage your solar panels. Plus, the water can get into the other installed equipment that should definitely not get wet in any way.

If you want to hose your panels down from the ground, you should get a regular water hose nozzle. Those usually don’t spray hard enough to damage solar panels, especially from the ground.

Do Solar Panels Require Any Other Maintenance?

A periodic light cleaning is the only regular upkeep solar panels require, but certain circumstances may call for more work. If your area receives heavy snowfall in the winter, for example, you’ll need to keep the panels free of snow, which can be labor-intensive.

If you notice that your solar panels are clean, but their power output is still dropping for no apparent reason, it’s time to call a professional to diagnose what’s wrong with them. The most likely culprit is that your power inverter needs to be replaced, but it’s hard to say exactly what’s wrong without looking at the system with a trained eye.

You might also be interested in: What Are Solar Panels Made Of? What You need To Know!

Featured Image Credit: Mischa Frank, Unsplash


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