Installing solar panels on the roof of your home can help to cut your household energy bills. However, being a solar panel owner also comes with some maintenance responsibilities. Cleaning your solar panels regularly can help them to work as effectively as possible, helping you to save as much money as you can whenever the sun shines.
1. Gather Suitable Cleaning Tools
It is very important to use the right tools to clean your solar panels. Abrasive cleaning tools such as metal scrapers or wire wool can scratch the glass surface and compromise the efficiency of the panels. You should also avoid using a power washer, as the pressure can damage the panels and prevent them from working correctly. The best tools for cleaning your solar panels are a simple sponge and a bucket of warm, soapy water. If you cannot easily reach the solar panels to clean them, you can use a sponge mop with an extendable handle.
2. Schedule Your Cleaning Carefully
Early in the morning is the best time of day for cleaning solar panels. During the night, dew naturally appears on the cool glass surfaces of the panels, which can help to soften bird droppings so they are easier to remove. If you wait until later in the day, the sun will cause the dew to evaporate and bake the bird droppings hard again.
3. Use Soft Water
If you live in a hard water area, it is not a good idea to use tap water to clean your solar panels. Hard water contains natural minerals, including magnesium and calcium. If you use hard water to clean your solar panels, deposits of these minerals can form on the glass, blocking the sunlight that the panels use to make electricity. Instead of tap water, use rainwater or softened water to clean your panels.
4. Clean Regularly
According to a study conducted by Google in 2009, cleaning solar panels that have been in use for 15 months can immediately double their energy output. The researchers concluded that cleaning solar panels is the best way to maximize their energy output, particularly if the panels are mounted on a flat roof. For panels on tilted roofs, rainwater does a much better job of washing away dust and dirt. However, solar panel owners in dusty and dry climates may also benefit from cleaning their panels mounted on tilted rooftops as regularly as possible.