How to Clean and Maintain Solar Panels
Solar panels are constantly exposed to dirt, water and rough weather. Over time, such elements can affect the efficiency of the PV system. Periodic cleaning is an important part of maintaining rooftop panels.
Below are tips for cleaning PV units, which also covers best practices in safety.
Cleaning from the Ground
Solar panels installed on residential rooftops are difficult to access. Because of this, it is recommended to clean the surface from the ground or ladder, using a pole. Before cleaning, don’t forget to shut down the system to prevent risk of electrical shock.
Hard scrubbing is not advisable, as it could damage the PV panels. Scratches on the units may affect the system’s performance, resulting in the creation of shadows. A soft brush is enough to dislodge dirt and debris from the surface. Use light water spray from a hose to remove any cleaning agents (if used) during the final wash.
If the panels are tilted, focus of the cleaning session should include the bottom of the panels, where dirt can easily accumulate and get stuck.
Time and Frequency
The best time to clean solar panels depends on several factors. One should avoid washing PV units during exposure to extreme sunlight, as it could accelerate evaporation, causing dirt to stick.
It is best practice to maintain solar panels in the morning or as the sun is going down. In the morning, dew on the surface can help dislodge some of the dirt, making it easier to clean or scrub off. It is also possible to clean PV systems after bad or rainy weather.
Lastly, solar panels do not have to be cleaned frequently. Residents living in areas that experience four seasons should expect to maintain their units at least once or twice per year – typically around spring and/or autumn.