When and how to clean your solar panels

Solar panels require very little maintenance in order to provide your home or business with green energy. However, some do need a little TLC every now and again. Here’s all you need to know about when and how to clean your solar panels…

The right time to think about cleaning

Most solar panels used in the UK are self-cleaning. The weather conditions in this country mean that most panels require very little cleaning or maintenance. You should consider cleaning if your panels are:

  • Tilted at an angle of less than 5 degrees. At this angle, the rain does not completely wash off dirt and dust. The dirty water can pool on the surface, leaving residue behind.
  • Located in a particularly dry or dusty part of the country
  • Part of farm buildings or other places where bird droppings are likely to become a problem.

As a general rule of thumb, if your generation figures are running at optimum then you don’t need to do anything about solar panel cleaning. Checking every three or so years is a good idea. For industrial or commercial buildings with large numbers of panels, regular solar panel cleaning is recommended for maximum efficiency.

Essential advice for effective solar panel cleaning

If you have a roof mounted solar panel system, cleaning is clearly a job for the professionals. Solar panel cleaning crews have the right equipment and expert knowledge to clean panels properly and work safely at height, and they can complete the job a lot quicker than you ever could.

For ground-mounted panels, there’s no reason you can’t clean them yourself. Shut down the system temporarily before starting, and don’t proceed if you spot any damaged cables. You’ll need:

  • A good quality soft brush
  • A squeegee with a plastic blade on one side and a cloth covered sponge on the other – preferably with a long extension if your panels are large, or there’s a lot of them
  • A good supply of soft water, harvested rain water can be used if there is hard water in your area.

Start cleaning in the early morning, as the panels are cool and the dew can make cleaning easier. Make sure to squeegee the panels immediately after cleaning to avoid any residue being left behind.

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