How to clean your solar panels effectively and safely
Solar panels are a great way to generate clean and renewable energy for your home or business. However, did you know that they also need regular cleaning to keep them working at their best.
Why do you need to clean your solar panels?
Dust, dirt, pollen, bird droppings, and other debris, can accumulate on your solar panels over time, reducing their efficiency and output. This is especially true if you live on a main road or on the coast with lots of seagulls. According to some recent studies, dirty solar panels can lose up to 30% of their solar power production compared to clean ones. This means that you could be missing out on significant savings on your electricity bills if you neglect to clean your solar panels regularly.
How often do you need to clean your solar panels?
The frequency of solar panel cleaning depends on several factors, such as the location, climate, tilt angle, and type of solar panels. Generally, you should check your solar panels at least once a month for any visible signs of dirt or damage. You should also monitor your solar panel performance using a monitoring system or an app to see if there is any drop in solar output that could indicate a need for solar panel cleaning.
Here at NXTGEN Energy we believe that companies which recommend solar panel cleaning 3 or 4 or more times a year are being a little excessive. However, we do recommend at least one or two thorough solar panel cleans per year, preferably in the spring and autumn, when the sun is not too strong and the weather is not too rainy or windy. This we believe is the most cost effective way to maximise the benefits of your solar PV panel system.
However, some situations may require more frequent cleaning, such as:
- If you live in a dusty or polluted area, such as near a construction site, a factory, or a main road.
- If you live in an area with frequent bird activity or nesting like on the coast.
- If you live in an area with high pollen levels or tree sap due to there being lots of trees in the area.
- If you have flat or low-tilt solar panels that do not shed dirt easily when it rains.
- If you have snow or ice on your solar panels in the winter.
How do you clean your solar panels?
There are different methods and tools for cleaning your solar panels, depending on your preference, budget, and accessibility. Here are some of the most common options:
Solar panel cleaning kits
- These are ready-made sets of tools that include brushes, extensions, squeegees, hoses, nozzles, and buckets. They are designed to help you reach and scrub your solar panels without damaging them. Some kits also include cleaning solutions that are specially formulated for solar panels. It’s always a good idea to check with your solar panel installer before you buy.
Solar panel cleaning drones
- These are drones that can fly over your solar panels and spray water or cleaning solution while brushing off the dirt. They are powered by batteries and can be controlled remotely. They are ideal for large-scale or hard-to-reach solar panel installations on very high roofs. Remember for those who wish to use drones commercially, for commercial gain, then permission is required from the Civilian Aviation Authority (CAA) and you are required to take courses and test to obtain a Flyer ID and an Operator ID.
Solar panel cleaning robots
- These are automated devices that can glide over your solar panels and spray water or cleaning solution while brushing off the dirt. They are powered by solar energy or batteries and can be controlled remotely. They are ideal for large-scale or hard-to-reach solar panel installations.
Solar panel cleaning services
- There are professional companies that offer solar panel cleaning as part of their services They have the expertise, equipment, and insurance to handle any type of solar panel system safely and efficiently. They can also provide other maintenance services such as inspection, repair, and replacement of faulty parts.
Solar panel maintenance services contract
- Some ‘solar panel installers’ offer a yearly solar panel maintenance service for £500+. Over the 25 to 30 years that you could have solar panels that equates to an extra £12,500 to £15,000 on top of the cost of your solar panel installation.
- You should remember that solar panels have no moving parts and that they are very low maintenance, they just have to be cleaned regularly. So do you need a ‘solar panel maintenance contract’ from your solar panel installer? I’ll let you be the judge. NXTGEN Energy don’t try to tie you into a ‘solar panel maintenance services’ contract at any point, but if you have any problems or worries about your solar panel system we are only a phone call or email message away.
- Your window cleaner has all the equipment and tools needed to clean your solar panels. Remember that solar panels are designed with self-cleaning glass and are cleaned by the rain. It would also be a lot cheaper than all the previous methods mentioned above and your window cleaner might have been asked by other customers about cleaning their solar panels, so he or she might already have experience in cleaning solar panels for other local residents.
Whichever method you choose, there are some general tips and precautions that you should follow when cleaning your solar panels:
- Always check the manufacturer’s instructions and warranty terms before cleaning your solar panels. Some products or techniques may void your warranty or damage your solar panels.
- Always turn off your solar PV system before cleaning to avoid electric shocks or fire hazards.
- Always wear protective gear such as gloves, goggles, and shoes when cleaning your solar panels.
- Avoid using abrasive or harsh chemicals such as ammonia, bleach, or vinegar that could corrode or scratch your solar panels.
- Avoid using high-pressure washers or metal tools that could crack or dent your solar panels.
- Avoid cleaning your solar panels when they are hot or in direct sunlight to prevent thermal shock or water spots.
- Use soft-bristled brushes, microfiber cloths, or sponges to gently wipe off the dirt from your solar panels.
- Use de-ionized or distilled water to rinse off your panels. Tap water may contain minerals or salts that could leave stains or deposits on your solar panels.
- Dry off your solar panels with a clean cloth or let them air dry completely before turning on your solar PV system back on.
Cleaning your solar panels regularly is an essential part of keeping them in good shape and maximizing their performance. By following the tips mentioned above, you can ensure that your solar panels are always clean and ready to harness the power of the sun and produce the amount of energy they should be producing to save you the most money on your energy bills.
If you are interested in getting solar panels installed, you can contact us on 01268 928 690 or click on the ‘Enquire Now‘ button below to get a free no-obligation quote and solar PV system design service from a trusted 5-Star Rated MCS Certified Solar Panel Installer who always puts our customers first.
Frequently Asked Questions about Solar Panels
The short answer is yes! Solar panels can cut almost 70% off your energy bills, and that proportion is growing as energy bills rise. No wonder solar panel installations have risen by over 45% in the last three years, and shot up by over 80% in the last year alone.
1-2 bedroom property, 8 solar panels generating about 1,800 kWh a year.
3 bedroom property, 12 solar panels generating about 2,800 kWh kWh a year.
4-5 bedroom property, 16 solar panels generating about 3,700 kWh kWh a year.
The answer depends on how much you pay for the solar panels, how much your electricity would otherwise cost, how much green energy the panels make from the sunshine you get, and whether you have solar batteries installed or not. The average payback period for solar PV systems is coming down and can now be under 10 years depending on your solar PV system and how many solar panels you have installed.
The solar industry standard for most solar panels’ lifespans is between 25 to 30 years, but with proper care and cleaning they can last much longer. Most reputable manufacturers offer production warranties for 25 years or more. The average break even point for solar panel energy savings occurs six to 10 years after installation.
Whilst there is no hard and fast rule as to how much value solar panels can add to the overall value of your property, suggestions range from 4.1% to 14% on average and they are certainly unlikely to detract from the value of your home, even if they aren’t the most attractive roof feature visually.
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