17 Apr
2012

Solar Panel Cleaning, Clean Solar Panels, Solar Panel Maintenance

Posted by Norman F

dirty solar panels, cleaning solar panels

Get a Free local Solar Power Estimate from a local vendor by clicking the advertisement above.

Why Clean Solar Panels?

Once you get your solar panels installed, you will find them fairly maintenance free. Most are rated for a very long 30 year lifetime. As you can see from the above picture, solar panels can get dirty. Pollen, bird droppings, dirt, and dust can build up on solar panels. We try to clean solar panels at least two times a year. March/April when the rainy season has passed, and August/September, towards the end of summer. Pollen from our nearby evergreens really sticks to the panels. Try to clean pollen off before it bonds, otherwise a cleaning solution may be needed.

We have found a 10-15% decrease in solar output when solar panels are dirty and can immediately see the increase in power generation on our inverters.

dirty solar panel, partially clean solar panel

How to Clean Solar Panels

We gently hose off our solar panels and use a soft car wash brush to lightly scrub the dirt off when doing solar panel cleaning. See the picture above to see how a partially cleaned panel looks. Check with your solar panel manufacturer to verify the best way to clean your solar panels. We have heard that people with hard water may need to wash their solar panels using a delivered water service, so check into that if your water is hard. Clean solar panels are worth the effort.

You may also need to trim back trees or plants that block the sun. We have had to do this every 5 years or so.

Too lazy to do your own solar panel maintenance? There are companies that will do solar panel cleaning for you.

Checking Solar Panel Operation

The only other part of solar panel maintenance is monitoring their energy output and ensuring there are no malfunctions. Check and log the power output on your solar inverters display on a daily or monthly basis. With this data, you can then check to see if your solar panels are functioning at full efficiency.  Solar panels produce different amounts of power during the year, so keeping a baseline measurement helps.

SolarMagic Solar Power Optimizer

solar panels

National Semiconductor has a new SolarMagic power optimizer box that is supposed to reclaim up to 50% of the energy lost to real world shade and mismatch conditions and enable flexible design installation.

“In fact, as little as 10% shade on an array can result in as much as 50% lost energy. SolarMagic power optimizers maximize the energy potential of each individual panel so as much as 50% of the lost energy can be reclaimed.”

A quote on their website cites an up to 22.6 percent more power out of the same panels in Oakland, California.

Solar PV arrays are susceptible to large amounts of energy loss from small amounts of shade caused by light barriers like trees, roof obstructions, and debris. In addition, solar arrays require installation with a single orientation and tilt to avoid array mismatch energy loss.

A solar panel, or module, consists of multiple solar cells placed in series – the potential of each cell adds to the available output voltage and current of the entire panel. In the same manner, an under performing cell in the panel detracts from the output voltage and current of the entire panel.

Be sure to read our article Are Solar Panels for Me?

Be sure to ready our other solar panel – solar power articles:

Are Solar Panels for me?Site PlanningDifferent Kinds of PanelsActual Solar Electric System Quote

Posted on April 17th, 2012
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13 Responses to “Solar Panel Cleaning, Clean Solar Panels, Solar Panel Maintenance”

  1. Solar Panels Sasch Says:

    There is also a company (Heliotex I believe) that makes special water sprayers that you mount on your roof next to your solar panels. The system filters the water and apparently even allows you to add a biodegradable soap to clean your solar panels automatically.

  2. Solar Forum Says:

    Just a heads up. there are a few companies out there that try to sell you cleaner specifically for solar panels. i’ve tried a couple and believe soft water and a light brush as the author suggested.

  3. Picard Says:

    Solar panels’ efficiency is constantly improving, thanks to immense technology development efforts that achieve improvement increments of a few percent. Regrettably, mediocre dirt and dust hamper sunlight transmission to the solar cells, and consequently reduce their throughput substantially. Cleaning the panels is a costly operation and therefore cannot be a practical solution. TitanShield SolarCoat is an optimal solution to the problem! This innovative photocatalyst material is sprayed on the surface of the solar panel and will avoid accumulation of dirt. Not only that, due to its special optical characteristics, TitanShield SolarCoat will diminish the loss of solar radiation through the glass of the panel by 5% (by reducing glare and thus reflection from the panel, as well as other losses). TitanShield SolarCoat is inherently a UV radiation mask. This helps to prolong the useful life of the DSSC cells that are susceptible to UV radiation. Once coated, the TitanShield SolarCoat will last and function for the entire lifetime of the solar panel. We offer here a holistic environmentally friendly solution that eliminates the use of water and detergents for cleaning the panels, while saving considerable expenses.

  4. Jenny Green Says:

    We use SOLAR MAID for our commercial systems, they are really good and the offset in the cost to the performance is a no-brainer.

    We highly recommend these guys and best of all they are a franchise, so there is a Solar Maid operator near you. Plus they use their own organic cleaning soltuion and my boss swears that there is something in that solution that boosts our power output (they won’t devulge that info)

  5. Ways to Save Energy, Money on your Utility Bill | Easy Eco Blog Says:

    […] It is a great time to go solar.  The Federal 30% Tax Credit is now uncapped. Panels are more efficient than ever.  A solar system can pay itself back in 7-10 years.  There are no money down leasing options that drop your monthly bill and require no large initial outlay. Solar Panels require a little Maintenance and cleaning. […]

  6. Are Solar Panels for me? - Will Solar Power be worthwhile? | Easy Eco Blog Says:

    […] Panels will need occasional solar panel cleaning.  Home Power Magazine covers the solar scene. […]

  7. Jacob Ramone Says:

    I have a 2-story home with 54 solar panels split up into 3 different arrays. It is almost impossible for me to consistently clean my solar panels.

    So I went with a company known as Simple Solar Cleaning Systems, they set me up with an automated solar panel cleaning kit in just one day! The best part? It only cost me $1,500!

  8. Andrew Says:

    I own a Solar Panel Cleaning company in Southern California and I would not recommend using dish soap or any kind of soap, because this leaves a thin layer of sticky residue on the panels, which in turn attracts the dust.
    We use super purified water with a additive that helps the solar panels self clean.
    The automated cleaning systems are good if you have the money for them, but I would still recommend having them cleaned by a professional at least once every 1-2 years because those automated systems can not scrub the bird droppings, pollution, and fly/spider dropping that get baked onto the panels.
    There is much more information about solar panel cleaning on our website. Hope it helps.

  9. Anna Says:

    For your best and longer lasting results, I recommend using PowerBoost. This solution contains biodegradable materials as well as a special sheeting agent so solar modules dry spot-free and stay clean for several months. PowerBoost is also eco-friendly!

  10. Mark Karakas Says:

    NOC on Solar is a surface treatment for the glass surface of solar panels that forms a Teflon like coating, that allows 100% light transmittance. The panels become practically self cleaning. It would help this system reduce water consumption and prevent sap and bird residue from sticking.

  11. How to Make your Business Energy-Efficient | Easy Eco Blog Says:

    […] monthly bill and require no large initial outlay. Solar Panels require a little Maintenance and cleaning. […]

  12. vittoria shaw Says:

    From the other side of the world (Australia). I have a solar panel system which had been up for almost 5 years. At the time of insulation there was NO words mentioned about maintenance suggestions for mine or any system!! Do we not ask the right questions! As we live near the river and Ocean I took a punt on the reason why my utility bill had just gotten high (couldnt blame it all on the higher cost of living and personal usage)and did some research and cleaned the panels for the first time in Oct’11(our spring). My god they were dirty. We started to do regular monitoring of our input plus put the cleaning of the panels on a regular monthly schedule till the weather changes(which should be about June). Result – Amazing … it is now the end of our first billing schedule since cleaning – We have more than doubled the input (part of that will be seasonal) compared to similar billing period for the past 2 years. Little time and effort makes a big difference but I still ponder why simple maintenance discussion did not happen at time of purchase!

  13. Solar Panel Installation - Site Planning | Easy Eco Blog Says:

    […] Once your Solar electric system is installed, you will need to maintain them as  Solar Panels will need occasional solar panel cleaning. […]

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