Solar panels are a great investment for your home. Not only will they increase your home’s resale value, but they will also produce energy – thus lowering your monthly overheads. Depending on the place where you live and how much sun you get, a typical system will save you enough money to pay for itself in no more than a decade.
However, not everyone is yet sold on the idea of green, decentralized energy production that solar panels promise. Some cite the aesthetics, some just don’t believe this step is necessary, while others are concerned by maintenance.
We talked to solar installers in San Diego at Action Solar and asked them to answer a few questions about maintenance, specifically about cleaning solar panels.
Solar Panels Do Not Need Much Maintenance
Unless there is a malfunction or physical damage to a solar panel (or another part of the array), solar panels actually require very little maintenance overall. There are no moving parts which may cause problems, and all of the electronics are shielded from the elements.
However, an occasional cleaning of the panels might be a good thing – it may even improve the effectiveness of your panels. This depends on the amount of dirt that accumulated on the panels beforehand.
Familiarize Yourself with Panels First
As spring is getting closer, it might be a great time to start thinking about cleaning the panels. But in order to do it safely and with understanding, you really should consult the manufacturer’s instructions. These instructions will tell you how to clean the panels, what areas or movements to avoid and similar things.
Seeing how not all solar panels are the same, it is always best to consult those who know the most about them – the manufacturer. You could also ask your solar installers and technicians for some tips when they install the system.
Get the Right Equipment
If you really want to do this right, there are solar panel cleaning kits that you can buy. These kits contain all the right equipment that is soft and delicate enough so as not to damage the panels. It will likely contain some detergents that are considered safe for solar panels.
However, you don’t have to invest in a specialized cleaning kit that you will likely use no more than once or twice a year. What you really need is some soft cloths, a squeegee, and some mild soap. Solar panels are pretty smooth and not a lot of persistent dirt will accumulate on them.
How to Clean
The first step is getting some water on the panels, but don’t be tempted to use a pressure washer. A simple hose will do the trick – spray down your panels with tepid water. Don’t use cold water on hot days or hot water on cold days – the temperature difference might cause the panels to shatter.
Simply spraying the panels with water will remove a lot of the visible dirt, but you should still get in there with soap and water. Just make sure to be gentle with your movements and to use a soft sponge or cloth.
Squeegeeing your panels should be left as a last step. Once you’ve applied and washed down the soap, your panels will be wet. They can operate like that just fine, but there is a different reason to dry your panels with a squeegee. Removing all of the water from your panels will prevent the buildup of water stains – limescale. Limescale can impede your solar panel’s productivity more than dirt that accumulates over the winter.
As you can see, caring for solar panels is fairly easy and not particularly time-consuming. The benefits of a solar panel array, on the other hand, are numerous.