Dust accumulates on solar panels in most locations, be they on rooftops or as part of large ground-mounted solar farms.
Solar panels get dirty primarily from wind-blown dust and pollen. As panels get dirtier, their output declines. A small amount of soiling may not be cause for worry, but when panels get very dirty the generation decline can be greater than 15%.
Now, there are enough folks who vouch solar panels do not even need cleaning, because occasional rains will take care of this. But if I were you, I would be more reassured to rely on the truism “what is maintained well works well”.
So, let’s look at how best to clean solar panels, now that I have tried my best to convince you that they indeed need cleaning!
The traditional way to clean solar panels is to apply water on them.
That said, a number of variants are being tried for water cleaning.
The most common is water sprinkling on the solar panels at a reasonable force, which in our opinion is perhaps the best way to use water.
We have seen small solar farms where people even try to clean solar panels with wet cloth, perhaps not a good idea, could result in scratches resulting in turn in lower light penetration and electricity generation.
Outside of water usage, there are also some dry methods being attempted to clean solar panels, though these are in a nascent stage.
Another emerging trend is the use of robots to clean solar panels – this could be a useful avenue for large solar farms that could be sporting tens of thousands of solar panels.
Some more Dos and Donts for Solar Panel Cleaning
- Use of detergents and more so abrasive powders risk scratching the panels. Clean water and a little scrubbing with cloth covered sponge or soft brush should remove the most stubborn grime on the solar panels.
- Solar panels can become incredible hot in sunshine. Either clean your solar panels in the morning/afternoon, or pick a relatively cool day to clean them.
- Cleaning the surface of the solar panel is good enough. You do not have to clean the wiring underneath.
You Might Want to Check Out these Questions Too on Maintenance & Repairs
- How Frequently Should Solar Panels Be Cleaned?-Here
- What is the Cost of Maintaining Solar Panels for 25 Years?-Here
- How Easy Will it be to Replace Solar Panels after Installation?-Here