How To Clean and Maintain Your Solar Panels
- Maintain high efficiency with regular solar panel cleaning
- Maximise the amount of money you can save and generate
- Either clean manually or professionally
Solar panels are a great investment. They can help you make a better contribution to the planet, and make you money due to the way you can sell any electricity that you’ve made with them but haven’t used. Every now and again, solar panel cleaning will need to be done to make sure they're performing their best and getting you the returns you expect.
You may already have them but need to find out more about solar panel cleaning. The more your array is kept in good condition, the better it will serve you well for years to come.
Take a look at our guide to solar energy for further information.
What's On This Page?
Click the links below and head straight to a specific section of the article.
- What Are The Biggest Advantages of Solar Panels?
- Why is Cleaning and Maintaining My Solar Panels So Important?
- Solar Panel Maintenance Tips
- Solar Panel Cleaning
- How Often Do I Need To Clean My Solar Panels?
- Are My Panels Generating As Much Energy As They Should Be?
- Can Solar Energy Be Used At Night?
- Why Isn’t My Solar Panel System Working?
What Are The Biggest Advantages of Solar Panels?
Solar panels come with a wide range of benefits. The most talked-about advantages of solar panels include:
- A renewable energy source
- Cuts the cost of electricity bills
- Can last for around 25 years
- A low maintenance solution
Why is Cleaning and Maintaining My Solar Panels So Important?
Solar panel cleaning ensures the most electricity is being generated. If you don’t clean or maintain your solar panels properly, they won't perform their best. If performance is lacking due to insufficient cleaning and maintenance, this means you will be making less money from them than you could. Cleaning and maintaining your solar panels also helps prematurely replacing them.
How much do solar panels cost? You can see our comparison for solar panel costs in 2023.
Solar Panel Maintenance Tips
One of the most important solar panel cleaning tips is to keep the panels out of the shade. If they can’t get enough sunlight, they won’t be able to work as effectively. While they work best in direct light, they also work in partial shade and in overcast conditions.
A great way to see if your solar panels are working efficiently is to check their daily performance. Solar panels don’t have moving parts that are likely to break down or start rusting, which is why they are regarded as a low maintenance solution. Occasionally, you'll have to instigate solar panel cleaning to make sure that no debris is causing problems.
Solar Panel Cleaning
Depending on whether you have the equipment or ability to perform solar panel cleaning yourself, you may want to consider using a professional. Experienced solar panel cleaning companies take the hassle off your hands and can make them as good as new for a fee.
Solar panel cleaning kits are available for the self-cleaning approach. These tend to consist of soap, a wipe and a telescopic brush. Grime or dirt can be removed with a soft brush or water. The best time to clean your solar panels is when they are wet or moist. Scrubbing, especially with coarse materials, can damage the surface.
Avoid using abrasive cleaning products, including abrasive sponges, when conducting solar panel cleaning. This could scratch the glass and impair their ability to work. Fine scratches might not be seen at the time, but they can completely render a cell inoperable. If you don't have the correct tools for solar panel cleaning, it's often best to leave it to the professionals.
If you're cleaning your panels from the ground, it’s best to use a long-handled, telescopic wiper. Working at height requires proper safety equipment and an awareness of the risks involved. If you do decide to get on your roof, take care and use a harness or safety ropes. Roof-based work can be very dangerous, so if you don’t have enough confidence or experience in this area, it’s definitely best to leave solar panel cleaning to the professionals. Your roof can become very wet and slippery whilst you’re cleaning your solar PV panels, so care must be taken at all times.
How Often Do I Need To Clean My Solar Panels?
The frequency of solar panel cleaning depends on various factors. Some people clean them every month, whilst others tend to clean them every quarter. It depends on how big they are and how dirty they become over time. Solar panel cleaning should be more frequent in areas prone to heaving soiling.
To get the most out of your system, it's advised to consider solar panel cleaning at least every six months. This way, you'll be maximising how much energy they generate in the summer, and keep them pristine during the winter. Areas overlooked by trees can be susceptible to an accumulation of dust, debris and pollen, which will make it harder for sunlight to penetrate.
Do I Need To Have My Panels Serviced Annually?
Solar panels generally don’t require a great deal of maintenance, but they're not maintenance-free. Many people are able to perform solar panel cleaning themselves without having to pay out for maintenance packages. Having your panels serviced each year can make sure they’re performing as they should be. Any problems with efficiency, the inverter or otherwise can be highlighted at this point.
Are My Panels Generating As Much Energy As They Should Be?
If you have older solar panels, you may have to look at your generation meter. Newer systems have a smartphone app to see how much energy has been generated. How much energy your panels generate depends on how many panels you have, how dirty they are, which direction they’re facing and whether buildings or trees are blocking them. This is one of the reasons why solar panel cleaning is so important.
Your MCS certificate should have an estimated annual generation figure printed on it. If you are falling short of this figure, there could be an issue with your system. It’s best to check your meter several times in the run-up to summer. You’ll be generating more electricity in the summer, so it’s best to get any problems resolved before the warmer, lighter months arrive. This can also be an ideal time to conduct solar panel cleaning.
Depending on how dirty your solar panels are, they can lose up to 50% efficiency, although this number differs by source. The Solar Energy Power Association estimates a 20% reduction in efficiency, while the National Renewable Energy Laboratory sees losses up to 50%. This is dependent on the location, but high levels of dirt can reduce the amount of power your solar panels can generate, which is why it's important to keep up to date with solar panel cleaning. If as much as half of power output can be hindered with dirt, you won't want to have unclean panels.
Can Solar Energy Be Used At Night?
You can use solar energy at night if your system comes with a solar battery. The purpose of a battery in a solar PV system is to store up energy generated throughout the daytime so you can use it at night. If solar panel cleaning has been done effectively throughout the year, your system will capture as much energy as possible to use at night. Anything surplus will be sent back to the grid.
How long should I expect my solar panels to last for?
The vast majority of solar panels are built to last for around 20 to 25 years. If your panels aren’t working as well as they could be and you’ve been performing solar panel cleaning and maintenance, you may have an issue with your inverter or power supply. Your inverter is the facility that transforms the energy your solar panels have captured into electricity. Many people find their inverter is the first part of their system they experience an issue with.
Installers should be registered with the Renewable Energy Consumer Code (RECC) to provide peace of mind, but all installers have to be MCS accredited. This way, you'll know your solar panels will last.
Why Isn’t My Solar Panel System Working?
There are many reasons why your solar panel system might not be working properly, and sometimes there's other things besides solar panel cleaning that need to be done. Before you call the solar power repair professionals to identify the cause of any issues, there are some checks that you can make yourself. Firstly, you need to ensure that your electricity is connected. If your electricity supply has been cut off or you pay for your electricity in advance and use a meter, your system will stop generating power.
Another reason why your system might not be working is a tripped switch. Solar panel systems have their own trip switches on fuse boards. If the switch isn’t in the “on” position, it will have tripped. You should also make sure your isolators are in the “on” position. Another reason why your system might not be working efficiently is that you have a problem with your inverter. This is usually the first part of a solar PV system to break down. Inverters generally need to be replaced every ten years or so, which means they will be replaced more times than the actual solar panels.
If something still isn't right, you can give your system a visual inspection to see if a spot of solar panel cleaning will rectify any issues. Bird soiling can be tricky to remove, especially if just left for rainfall to sort out. Either paying for a self-cleaning solar panel cleaning kit or a professional can rectify this.
Most solar PV systems are not high maintenance. Even if you do decide to opt for annual servicing, you shouldn’t pay much more than £100 per year for this, which may or may not include solar panel cleaning. You will also need to cover the cost of cleaning equipment, but this shouldn’t be a great expense. Taking care of your solar panels will prolong their life and help you get the most out of them. Solar panel repairs aren’t frequently needed, and the money you do spend on cleaning and maintaining your system may well be eclipsed by the cash that they generate for you.
You are likely to benefit from solar panels if you live in a home that’s not surrounded by tall trees or buildings. As you’ll be using electricity you have produced yourself at least some of the time, there is potential for big savings to be made. The government’s Smart Export Guarantee could enable you to make money by selling the electricity you don’t use back to the grid. Undertaking solar panel cleaning and maintenance for your panels well will keep them working efficiently so you can continue generating valuable energy from them. Solar panels are amongst several renewable energy solutions being installed in homes across the UK.
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