When was the last time you cleaned your solar panels? Solar panels can last for decades when properly maintained. Thanks to recent advancements in photovoltaic (PV) technology, some of them will last over 30 years. But regardless of the specific type of PV material from which they are made, solar panels will accumulate debris. Cleaning your solar panels will help to remove this debris so that it doesn’t interfere with their ability to generate electricity.
Do Clean Annually
Try to get into the habit of cleaning your solar panels at least once a year. Rainwater alone isn’t enough to keep solar panels clean. Over time, debris such as dirt and dust will accumulate on the surface of your solar panels where it restricts the passage of sunlight. Cleaning your solar panels at least once a year will promote a cleaner surface. And with a cleaner surface, your solar panels will receive more direct sunlight while generating more electricity in the process.
Do Use Water and a Mild Detergent
You can clean your solar panels using water and a mild detergent. You don’t need to buy any special commercial cleaning products. Rather, mild dish detergent will suffice. Using a sponge, gently wipe down your solar panels with the soapy water. When finished, rinse your solar panels with clean water to remove any lingering soap.
Don’t Use Any Abrasive Products
Avoid using any abrasive products when cleaning your solar panels. Abrasive products like steel wool and scrub brushes aren’t solar panel-friendly. Most solar panels are designed with a protective top layer consisting of a transparent material like glass or plastic. This top layer shields the underlying PV material from the elements. If you clean your solar panels with an abrasive product, though, you may create deep scratches in the top layer. Depending on the depth of these scratches, some of the underlying PV material may be exposed.
Don’t Use a Pressure Washer
In addition to abrasive products, you should also avoid using a pressure washer when cleaning your solar panels. Pressure washing will expose your solar panels to too much pressure. Some gas-powered pressure washers, in fact, can produce up to 3,000 pounds per square (PSI) of pressure. Even if you use an electric pressure washer with a lower PSI rating, it will still jeopardize the integrity of your solar panels. You may damage the solar panels themselves, or you may damage the panels’ wiring or connections.