Within solar energy circles, cleaning solar panels is a hot topic of debate: should you or shouldn’t you? While some suggest that regularly washing panels is necessary to get the maximum solar conversion possible. Others feel that solar panels should only get a rinse off once in a while if you see a notably low solar output. Following the solar panel manufacturer’s maintenance suggestions is always a good place to start, but if you’re still not sure, read on to learn how to maintain and clean your solar panels.
Do rigid solar panels need cleaning?
Whether or not you might need to clean your solar panels really depends on a few main factors: the angle of your panels and your geography.
- The position of your solar panels may affect the build-up of grime. If they’re lying flat, there’s a higher probability of muck sticking to the panels. On a gradient, dirt is more likely to roll down instead of staying in one place.
- Your location may also play a part in how much filth your solar panels collect. If you’re in a desert-like area, panels are more likely to accumulate dust. Living near or in woods can cause a problematic build-up of pollen, leaves, and bird poop.
How often do they need cleaning?
While the situations mentioned above may affect how dirty your solar panels get, the best way to ‘clean’ your solar panels is by simply letting nature do its thing. A good rain shower will rinse dust and debris off the panels to keep them working at around 95% capacity. However, if where you live is extremely dry or experiencing a drought, you may need to hose them down, but this is only really necessary if you notice a problem.
If you don’t have a clear view of your panels, setting up a camera that points towards them will allow you to keep an eye on dirt build-up and other issues. For example, if there’s a steep decline in power and variables such as sun intensity and cloud cover are normal, then you may need to give your panels a clean.
You can check solar output in a few different ways depending on the system you’re using.
- For portable power stations or home backup batteries, simply check your screen or app to see the output.
- To check a solar panel’s output directly, use a multimeter to check the voltage.