If you are considering putting solar panels on your home, you are not alone. Solar panels harness the energy of the sun and convert it into electricity that can be used to power your home’s appliances, electronics, and lighting. Solar panels are made of photovoltaic (PV) cells that convert sunlight into electricity. These cells are typically made of silicon, which is the most commonly used material for solar arrays. The cells are grouped together to form a solar panel, and multiple panels can be connected to create a solar array. The larger the array, the more power it can generate.
Installing solar panels by a local solar panel company on your home can offer numerous benefits. As environmental sustainability is a top priority for many homeowners today, one of the biggest advantages of solar energy is that it’s completely renewable. Unlike fossil fuels and other sources of energy, solar energy is unlimited and can be used without the worry of running out of it. Additionally, solar panels can help you save money on your electricity bills. If you generate more electricity than you use, you can even sell that power back to the grid. Solar panels can also help reduce carbon emissions allowing homeowners to reduce their environmental impact even further.
Along with reducing your home’s carbon footprint and saving you on your monthly energy bills, solar panels could also add value to your home. According to market research, homes with solar panels tend to sell faster and at a higher value than homes without solar panels. In fact, a home with solar panels could sell for as much as 4.1% more than other homes.
While there are a lot of benefits that come with solar panels, just like any other piece of technology, they’ll require some care and maintenance to maintain efficacy. If you’ve installed solar cells at your home, you’ll want to get into the habit of cleaning solar panels to get the most bang for your buck. Taking the time to maintain your solar panels can save you money and help reduce your carbon footprint. Let’s take a closer look at developing a regular cleaning routine for your solar panels.
Are dirty solar panels less efficient?
Solar panels are designed to collect energy from the sun and convert it into usable electricity. When sunlight reaches a solar panel, it’s absorbed by photovoltaic cells. These cells are made up of layers of silicon and other materials that are chemically treated to form positive and negative charges. When photons from sunlight hit these cells, they loosen electrons, creating a flow of electricity. This direct current (DC) generated by the cells is then sent to an inverter, which converts the DC electricity into alternating current (AC) that can be used in homes, businesses, and other places.
However, for solar panels to be effective, they must be able to absorb the maximum amount of sunlight. As most homeowners with solar panels have them installed by a professional on a rooftop, they can be subject to all kinds of dirt and debris. Over time, dirt, dust, debris, bird droppings, and other substances can collect on the surface of the panels. Not to mention, moisture can accumulate on the panels and allow mold and mildew to grow.
When different substances collect on the panels, they can form a barrier that prevents sunlight collection. Dirty solar panels can become less efficient and lead to reduced power output and, eventually, smaller savings on your energy bills. To take full advantage of the benefits, cleaning solar panels regularly is critical. A clean solar panel can churn out up to 25% more electricity than a dirty one.
How often should you clean solar panels?
Since dirty panels produce less power, occasional cleaning is essential to keep them performing efficiently. But the frequency of your cleaning schedule really depends on your location and the amount of dirt and debris that your panels collect. There is no hard and fast rule for how often you should clean your solar panels. As a general rule, solar panels should be cleaned at least twice a year. However, the frequency of cleaning can vary depending on various factors like where you live, the weather conditions, and the amount of dirt and debris that accumulates on your panels.
For example, if you live in an area with a lot of dust, like on a dirt road or near some fields, you will probably need to clean your solar panels roughly every three or four months. However, if you live in an area with low dust levels, you might be able to get by cleaning your panels every 6 to 12 months.
While natural rainfall can help clean off the panel’s surface, it isn’t always enough to get rid of all the dirt and residue that accumulates on the panels. After a storm, your panels may look clean, but there is often a small amount of dirt and other particles in the rainwater that can leave a thin film on your panels. Over time, these thin layers of dirt can accumulate and become significantly more noticeable, reducing the efficiency of your panels by a significant margin. As a result, regularly cleaning solar panels is important to maintain their optimal performance and extend their lifespan. Similarly, if you live in an area with normal snowfall, you may need to clean your panels after it snows to prevent the buildup of dirt and debris.
It’s also vital to note that cleaning your solar panels is not just about removing dirt and debris. It’s also about ensuring your panels are performing at their optimal level. Aside from cleaning, it’s also necessary to keep limbs, leaves, and other obstructions off of your panels. While it’s true that the wind can help carry most of the debris away from your solar panels, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. A simple weekly check can go a long way in preventing any potential issues. By performing regular check-ups, you’ll be able to remove any debris buildup before it can cause issues. This buildup can not only impact the effectiveness of your solar panels but can also damage the surface of the solar panels themselves.
Dirty, dusty, or obstructed panels can diminish the amount of energy your solar system produces, so regular cleaning and maintenance are paramount to maintaining their efficiency. It’s critical that you keep an eye on the condition of your solar panels and clean them on a regular basis to ensure they continue to generate the power you need to run your home.
How can you clean your solar panels?
As discussed, over time, dirt, dust, and other debris accumulate on the surface of solar panels, reducing their efficiency and performance. However, cleaning solar panels is a fairly easy task that doesn’t require specialized tools or equipment. The main tools and resources you will need are clean water and a non-abrasive sponge or soft bristle brush. You want to avoid using cleaning products with harsh chemicals as they could cause damage to the surface of your panels.
Before you begin the cleaning process, you’ll want to ensure you aren’t doing it in direct sunlight. Cleaning your solar panel system when it’s hot can cause the panels to dry too quickly. Since you will likely be on the roof, it will also be uncomfortable if you’re cleaning them in the heat of the day. It’s best to try to clean your panels either in the morning or in the evening, or on an overcast day.
Before you start cleaning, you’ll want to turn off the power to your solar cells to ensure safety. Using warm water and a sponge or brush; you’ll want to gently scrub away all of the dirt and grime that’s on your panels. It’s best that you use a soft sponge or soft brush to avoid scratching the surface of your panels. Once you’re done scrubbing the panels, you can use a hose or spray bottle to rinse the panels off. If you don’t want water spots left behind, you can also take a microfiber cloth and dry off the panels. Once the panels are all clean, you can turn the power back on and continue to enjoy the benefits of your solar energy system.
Adding solar panels to your home is a smart financial and environmental decision. Solar panels can reduce your energy bills, improve the value of your property, and help you create a more sustainable and eco-friendly home. However, caring for and cleaning solar panels is important for longevity and performance. By establishing a frequent cleaning schedule, you can make sure your solar cells are ready for maximum energy production.