Why Do you need to clean your solar panels?
The operating efficiency of a solar PV panel is dependent on the amount on sunlight that hits it. If trees constantly shade your panels, the amount of electricity they generate will be significantly reduced. Likewise, if you panels are covered in dirt they are going to produce less electricity, so keeping them clean ensures you are maximising your generating potential and maximising your returns from the Feed-in Tariff.
All sorts of things can make your solar panels dirty – pollen from plants and trees, salt deposits (if you live near the sea), may be just an unfortunate bombing run from a bird. In simply may even be just be an accumulation of dust on the panel, but any of these could significantly decrease the amount of electricity you are producing, so how do you go about cleaning the panels to keep them producing the most electricity they can.
How to keep you solar PV panels clean?
Despite nature making the panels dirtier, naturally occurring rain does a pretty good job of cleaning them, however it is still a good idea to give them a proper clean 3-4 times a year.
When considering cleaning your solar PV panels, never use an abrasive soap or cleaning sponge as this can scratch the glass of the panel, which will permanently lower its generating capacity. Research has even shown using tap water can leave miniscule mineral deposits on the panels when it dries off (although we don’t suggest spending additional money on purified water) decreasing capacity.
Below we have described the 4 different ways to keep your solar panels clean.
- Use a soft bristled brush and a liquid soap that you would use to clean the dishes. The soft brush will ensure no damage is done to to the panels while cleaning them.
- Use a solar panel cleaning company. This is certainly the easiest method, but perhaps the costliest. Simply search on the internet for a local window cleaner who offers the service to professionally clean your panels. They should use the appropriate cleaning products and tools to get your panels back up to 100%.
- HeliotexTM offer an automatic solar panel cleaning system that automatically washes and rinses your solar panels. This system attaches water nozzles to your solar panels, and houses a 20litre store of soap concentrate, which is administered to the panels when required. The HeliotexTM system tends to be for large solar installations to make it cost effective.
- You can also buy a nano-coating that can be applied to the panels, much like polishing a car. You simply treat your solar PV panels with the nano-coating that has hydrophobic properties, which repels water and dirt as it comes into contact with the panels. Nanoshell and Smart shield both supply this material in the UK.