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How to Clean Solar Panels (From the Ground)

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Learn how to clean solar panels so you can make more money each sunny day.

A rooftop solar panel and a PV panel are great ways to reduce your electricity bill. They work automatically while you live your life. However, solar panels do collect dust, leaves, and bird droppings that will reduce the amount of energy your panels can produce.

So you will need to know the best way to clean solar panels so they will keep producing electricity for you all year round.


Do Solar Panels Need to Be Cleaned?

Solar panel on a red roof

Solar panels collect dirt, dust, and pollen that are usually able to be washed off by the rain. However other items collect on solar panels such as bird droppings, leaves, and branches. This type of debris will likely need to be cleaned off by you.

Some areas of the country don’t get the needed hard rains to clean off the solar panels, or you may live in a state that tends to have frequent droughts. In this case, you may also need to clean your solar panels regularly.

The dirt and debris will affect the amount of sunlight your solar panels receive. Usually, the amount is small, particularly if you get frequent hard rains. Sometimes, the debris may cause a significant reduction in the energy efficiency of your panels.

How Often Should I Clean My Solar Panels?

You will likely need to clean your solar panels 2-to 4 times a year to help maintain the energy efficiency of your panels. Although, you can wait until you notice a drop in the amount of energy your solar panels are producing.

How to Clean Solar Panels At Home

Male owner wearing cap washes home solar panels using water hose

Before cleaning solar panels at home, check the user manual for your solar panels. Solar panels have different maintenance suggestions.

You will also need to consider your ability to safely clean the solar panels. If you have a steep, slippery roof or the panels are extremely high off the ground, you may want to consider hiring a professional. Always consider the safety considerations before you begin and make sure that you have a hard hat, ladder support, and a harness if you’re climbing on a roof.

Make sure you work on a cool, cloudy day as you will reduce the risk of cracking the glass shielding your solar panel as well.

  • Time: 20-60 minutes
  • Difficulty: Beginner

What You’ll Need

  • Safety equipment such as a hard hat, harness, ladder stabilizer, and gloves
  • Ladder
  • Extension rod
  • Telescopic hose wand
  • Soft brush

1. Turn Off Solar Panels

Solar panels are electrical equipment, so you will need to turn them off before you begin cleaning them. Do not clean the panels while they have electricity running through them to prevent the risk of an electrical shock.

You will need to check the specifications from the manufacturer to make sure you know how to turn off all the electrical currents to and from the panels. This includes both the electrical currents produced by the panels and the electricity going into and out of your home.

2. Remove Debris

Remove all the debris on the solar panels with a soft brush. You may find leaves, bird droppings, dust, and twigs on your solar panels. Gently brushing the debris off of the panels will reduce the chance of causing smears on your panels when you spray them with water.

Use an extension rod in order to reach the top of the panels with your brush from the ground. You may need to climb a ladder if you have 2 or 3 stories to your house.

3. Spray Panels Clean

Make sure your garden hose doesn’t have a high-pressure insert on it. Using a stream of high-pressure water to clean the solar panels is likely to cause fine cracks on the surface. These fine cracks may ruin the efficiency of the panels, cause future problems, and may also void the warranty.

Use your regular garden hose sprayer to spray each panel with tap water beginning at the top and working down. You may need to use a telescopic hose wand to reach the top of the solar panels.

4. Turn on Solar Panels

Restore the power to your solar panels when you have finished cleaning them.

How to Deep Clean Solar Panels

Male cleaning solar panel using mop with green bucket nearby

Brushing and washing solar panels with water doesn’t always remove all the dirt. You can deep clean your dirty solar panels by gently scrubbing them with a brush. Be aware of safety concerns and hire a professional to do the cleaning if needed.

  • Time: 20-60 minutes
  • Difficulty: Beginner

What You’ll Need

  • Safety equipment
  • Ladder
  • Extension rod
  • Sponge, squeegee or soft cloth (any one will do)
  • Bucket
  • Deionized or distilled water
  • Dish soap
  • Vinegar

1. Turn Off Panels

Make sure your solar panels and the electricity running through them are turned off. Refer to the manufacturer’s specifications to learn how to turn your specific panels off.

2. Fill Bucket

Fill the bucket with deionized or distilled water. The deionized or distilled water will attract other chemicals or minerals allowing it to clean better than plain water. If needed, you can treat your hose water with a water softener to improve the cleaning power instead.

It’s best to use plain water instead of soaps or cleansers. Many cleansers include abrasives that may scratch your panels. Soaps also leave a soapy residue that might cause you to have streaky solar panels which will decrease the panel’s functionality.

However, if you have stubborn stains you may need to make a DIY cleaning solution by adding a squirt of mild dish soap to the bucket. Then, using an 8:1 ratio, add water and vinegar to the bucket and mix all three ingredients together. This will increase the ability of the soap to remove the stains.

3. Scrub Solar Panels

Gently scrub your solar panels using a soft cloth, squeegee, or soft sponge until the dirty areas are gone.

4. Rinse Solar Panels

Rinse the solar panels with fresh water to remove as much of the soapy residue as you can.

5. Restore Power

Restore power to the solar panels when you have finished cleaning them.

Do I Need to Turn Off Solar Panels to Clean?

Yes, solar panels are electrical equipment. You will need to make sure they are turned off to prevent the risk of electric shock.

Solar Panel Cleaning Services

Professional cleaning services are available for you to use to clean your solar panels. You might want to consider using them if you have a steep, high roof or you are unable to safely clean your solar panels yourself. The professional cleaning services are also useful when your panels require more work than a garden hose and sponge can clean.

They use specially designed cleaning equipment to prevent damage to your panels.

Use Google, a directory, or call your manufacturer for recommendations for local services. Make sure your home falls in their service area as most solar panel cleaning services are regional. Also ask the cleaning service about schedules, licensing, and insurance.

Solar Panel Maintenance Tips

Maintaining your solar panels is the best way to keep them producing electricity for you.

  • Inspect them regularly to be sure they aren’t covered with bird droppings or have been damaged.
  • Remove any debris on the panels.
  • Check for trees that may shade your panels anytime during the day.
  • Clean your panels 2-4 times a year.
  • Use a monitoring app to track the energy your panels produce. Watch for a dip in production which may signal that it’s time to clean your panels.
  • Check the solar inverters once a year to make sure that all of the LEDs are green.

FAQs

How Do Professionals Clean Solar Panels?

Professionals clean solar panels by using deionized water with a rolling or vehicle-mounted brush. This enables them to clean the panels without the need for detergents. Some professionals do use a solar panel cleaner that will help the water remove the grime on the panels without leaving a soapy residue.

Can You Pressure Wash Solar Panels?

No, do not power wash your solar panels. The pressure may cause fine cracks in the panels which will damage them and reduce their efficiency at creating electricity.

Can You Use Vinegar to Clean Solar Panels?

While it’s best to only use water to clean solar panels, you can use vinegar to clean them. Use a ratio of 1 part vinegar to 8 parts water.

Can You Use Simple Green to Clean Solar Panels?

Yes, you can clean your solar panels with Simple Green. Work on 1-2 panels at a time.

First, spray 1 squirt of Simple Green on the panel. Use a soft brush to gently scrub the entire panel clean. Make sure to immediately rinse the panel off with clean water. Finish by using a squeegee to dry the panel and prevent streaks or water spots.

Can I Clean My Solar Panels With Windex?

Most solar panels are shielded with glass. However, a few solar panels are shielded with clear plastic instead. Windex will safely clean glass shields, but it may warp or discolor plastic shields. You will need to know what materials your solar panel shields are made from before using Windex to clean them.


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About the Author

Sara Dennis

Sara Dennis is a coffee-loving freelance writer, homeschool blogger, and mom of six kids. In her free time, Sara loves reading books and researching more efficient and effective ways to keep a clean house, homeschool her children, and blog better while making a home for her large family.