Want Your Solar Panels to Work Their Best? Keep Them Clean
Before we get into the real meat of this article, please keep in mind that what you’re about to read here are general recommendations. Before doing anything to your solar panels, check with your installer or the manufacturer of the panels themselves. Each manufacturer has specific instructions on how and when to clean their solar panels. The last thing that we’d want is for you to void any warranties that you may have.
Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, let’s get down to business. You want your solar panels to work at their most efficient, right? You want them converting every last ray of sunlight that they can get at as close to one hundred percent as possible. In order for that to happen, the solar panels have to be clean.
Most experts are in agreement that dirt, dust, and grime accumulation can limit the amount of power you can convert from sunlight by as much as seven percent. And debris, dead leaves, and whatever else might’ve blown up on your roof could be blocking sunlight and cutting your conversion percentage considerably more.
To Clean or Not to Clean
Seven percent is not that big a number, really. In all likelihood, if your system is hooked up to the grid, then you probably haven’t noticed an appreciable decline in the amount of power you’re producing versus what you’re having to pull from the grid over the time your solar panels have been collecting dirt.
That said, seven percent is seven percent. It’s not zero percent. Before you make a decision that involves ladders and hoses and putting yourself more than ten feet above the unforgiving ground, you might consider having a company (maybe your installer) come out and test your current efficiency.
DIY Solar Panel Cleaning
If you’ve decided that you can’t live with the idea that you’re not wringing every last watt out of the sky that you can, or have had your system tested and aren’t happy with your current production of electricity, it may be time to break out the ladder. The generally accepted method is to use warm soapy water and a squeegee, much like you’d clean windows.
There are also specialty cleaners for solar panels, including some that make special claims of water beading or keeping your panels clean longer through nano-processes and the like. Again, just be sure to apply the “buyer beware” adage and make sure you’re not going to void whatever warranties may apply to your system.
Keeping Your Panels Clean Can Be as Hands Off or On as You Like
Believe it or not, you can also buy a robot, specifically designed to clean your solar panels, that you can set up and forget about.
There are also specialized cleaning services for solar panels, and even panels that are “self-cleaning.” If you’re not a DIYer you might select one of these more expensive options when it comes to keeping your panels clean.
Regardless of whether you choose to clean your solar panels yourself or employ one of these methods, keep in mind what you’re getting in exchange for what you’re paying for.
[Photo via: A1theclearchoice]