Over time, the dirt that naturally builds up on solar panels can block how much sun the solar cells are able to absorb. And while you may not notice it at first, your panels can slowly start to lose efficiency. By the time you notice, they might not be meeting your home’s energy needs! To get the most out of your solar panels, learn how to clean them the right way and keep them working in peak condition.
Check the Manual
Before you start cleaning your panels, you want to make sure that by doing so, you’re not voiding your warranty. Additionally, some manuals will have cleaning instructions or tell you not to clean them yourself and hire services. The last thing you want to do is void your warranty because you didn’t follow the maintenance suggestions. In this case, it’s best to follow those instructions to avoid unnecessary damage.
Once you’ve determined that you can clean the panels yourself, you should make sure that you’re safe and prepared to clean them. First, you should only wash your panels on cool days, as applying cold water on hot panels can cause the glass to crack. In terms of personal safety, turn the panels off to prep them for cleaning, never touch the undersides, and if you can, wear gloves and use extension tools while cleaning them.
Remove Dirt and Leaves
You can’t properly clean the panels until you remove the initial layers of dirt and debris; remove any twigs, leaves, or dust with a soft-bristled brush. Don’t try and wash this off with water just yet, especially if you have a lot of dirt build-up, as this can cause streaks as you’re scrubbing. You may not be able to get everything right away, just be patient and gently scrub the more caked-on dirt to break it up before moving on to the next step.
Spray and Scrub Gently
While you may be tempted to use a power washer or high-pressure hose to get the job done quickly, this also can cause the glass to crack. And, if you can, you may want to use a water softener to avoid mineral spots from forming as the water dries. If you have tile roofing, properly sealed solar mounts are critical to keeping out water, so you may want to check them before you begin.
If all the dirt is gone, congratulations! You can allow the water to dry and enjoy your clean panels. If not, you can use gentle dish soap, a soft-bristled brush, or a sponge to clean more stubborn spots. Avoid using harsher soaps, such as detergent, as these chemicals can damage the panels.
Now that you know how to clean your solar panels the right way, you can enjoy clean and efficient panels without having to spend extra money. Just remember, if you’re unsure how to clean the panels or are concerned about the panel’s integrity, or your safety, contact a professional to get the job done. You can’t enjoy your panels if they’re broken!
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