Spring Cleaning: How to Clean Solar Panels

Solar panels are a great investment for your family and the future of our planet. But since they need a steady stream of sunlight in order to work, can dirty solar panels be a problem?

Absolutely. You can see the difference in your power bill or power records if you don’t clean your solar panels. But that doesn’t mean you need an expensive cleaning service. Use these simple tips to keep your solar panels as clean as necessary.

Do You Need to Clean Solar Panels?

It depends! What is the climate in your area? How often does it rain? Here are some rules of thumb for your weather patterns:

  • Frequent Rain: If you get a lot of rain and your solar panels are tilted, the rain will run across their surfaces and clean dirt and pollutants off.
  • Airborne Debris: If your rainstorms and wind carry dirt and other debris that stick to your solar panels, you should check if they need cleaning.
  • Infrequent Rain: Dirt can more easily collect on your solar panels if there’s little rain.

You can also keep track of your power meter for a month or two. Write down the amount of electricity you’re generating and what type of weather you had.

Then, clean the panels and see if they generate any more electricity in the same amount of time and weather. How much more electricity do you get? 5% more? 25%? If you see a big difference, that can motivate you to clean your panels more often.

How Much Does It Cost to Clean Solar Panels?

It really shouldn’t be expensive to clean solar panels. You might be able to use cleaning supplies, such as soap and a hose, that you already have or just buy some cheap ones. It’s not much different from cleaning a window.

Some companies, including solar panel producers, offer a maintenance contract for cleaning and maintaining solar panels. But it can cost a lot! The extra electricity your cleaner panels generate might not even be enough to cover the price.

What Is the Best Way to Clean Solar Panels?

Carefully go out on the roof and inspect your panels. If you can’t see the glass as well as when it was new—or if there’s any obvious foreign material stuck to it—they need at least some cleaning. If you’re going the DIY route, gather these supplies:

  • A hose (or a handheld sprayer)
  • Dishwashing detergent or window cleaner
  • A soft brush, sponge, or microfiber cloth
  • A bucket

Next, follow these steps:

  1. Check the Instructions: Read your solar panel manual for cleaning tips, in case your panels require special treatment. You could also call your manufacturer about it.
  2. Use the Hose or Sprayer: Gently spray your solar panels down with a hose to see if they get clean enough. If your water has a lot of minerals in it, you could instead use a one- or two-gallon handheld sprayer filled with distilled water.
  3. Clean with Soap: If needed, make some warm, soapy water in your bucket, and wipe off any dirt or debris off the glass. Avoid any wiring!
  4. Wipe Clean: Use your brush, sponge, or cloth to wipe up any soap residue and anything else you see. Also, make sure no soap residue is left on your roof.
Elevate your energy choices with Spring Power & Gas. Find out how we offer solar energy as a carbon offset option in your utilities package.

Can You Power Wash Your Solar Panels?

It might seem faster to use a power washer on solar panels for faster cleaning. We all want to save time, but solar panels are sensitive and expensive devices. You shouldn’t put too much pressure on them, and power washing might damage them.

Rain alone keeps many solar panels pretty clean, and a hose, soap, and sponge can do the rest. You might not think to check on your solar panels very often, but spring cleaning is a great time to look them over!

Clean Energy Initiatives

If you don’t have solar panels yet, there are other ways to support clean-energy initiatives. Spring Powder & Gas provides helps you offset your carbon use through Renewable Energy Credits. Promoting clean energy initiatives, even if clean energy options aren’t available in your area. For more information on how you can help offset your energy use contact us at Spring Power & Gas today.