How To Clean Solar Panels

You’ve got the solar panels set up along with the other components, and now you’re probably wondering how to clean your solar panels.

In this guide, we want to show you the best and easiest way to clean your solar panels without damaging them or disrupting them in any way.

Cleaning takes a while, but it doesn’t have to if you know how to do it properly—here is how!

Simple Basic Steps To Clean

  • Rinse solar panels with clean water to get rid of any loose dirt.
  • Gently wash the solar panel surface with a soft scrubber or soapy water spray.
  • Rinse solar panels with clean water and wait till everything dries.

Is It Necessary To Clean Solar Panel?

cleaning solar panels

Of course! a clean solar panel produces power more efficiently.

What if you don’t clean ?  Dust collects over time and it builds up on the solar panels, causing them to run less efficiently.

Even with the smallest dust particles, over time, your efficiency decreases by just a little bit—with a lot of dust build-up, the efficiency of the solar panels decreases by a lot.

With casual wind, the dust gets moved around and sometimes gets pushed off of the solar panels, but more dust can settle on top of the panels with wind, so it’s not always a great thing.

Rain can always help with bringing down dust particles, but sometimes other chemicals can enter the clouds, and dust-rain can leaves muddy or dusty residue on all of the solar panels, making them highly inefficient until cleaned.

The inefficiency can cost you energy in the long run, leaving your solar system less efficient until cleaned.

Things To Consider

When wanting to clean solar panels, there are a lot of factors to consider such as safety, tools, time of day, etc

Safety

solar panel installer safety

If your solar panels are mounted on rooftops, safety is the number one priority in every case. Make sure that you’ll be safe climbing a ladder to get on top of your house, and if you’re needing to, make sure you wear a harness to prevent you from falling.

Sometimes, getting up to the rooftop of your house isn’t always the hardest part—after getting up there, you’ll also need a way to bring your tools up there with you.

Non-Specialized Tools/Household Items

A simple powerful hose will be plenty to clean off the dust build-up!

Having too much power spraying from the water hose will not damage a high quality solar panel, and it can withstand a lot of pressure. If , your solar panels will be strong enough for you to walk on, but we don’t recommend doing that!

For heavier build-up, you can either still utilize a power hose along with some long poles to scrub and rinse the water off, or you can climb on top of the house to clean the panels off with smaller tools—a simple bucket, a light scrubber, and mild soap will be enough to do the trick!

For a power hose, some websites sell an attachment that you can combine with your power hose that mixes special, solar-panel-cleaning solution in with the water—you can find it here at amzn.to/3iCWf1A

Time Of Day

time of the day

During the peak hours of 10AM and 2PM, when the solar panels are getting the most sunshine, it’ll be tough to clean your solar panels then, as they will get hot during this peak time.

It’s better to clean your solar panels off during the morning or evening portion of the day to make sure that the solar panels aren’t too hot. On overcast or cloudy days, it may work better, as you’re not bringing in much energy, and the solar panels aren’t too hot.

Solar Panel Environments

solar panels on roof

  • If your solar panel is laying down flat on a surface, parallel to the horizon, there may be more build-up than usual, and it’ll require more cleaning annually than other solar panel setups.
  • If you live downwind from a highway or farm areas, your panels may get a build-up of dust easily due to the winds carrying dust.
  • If you live near an area that’s surrounded by tall trees, it may be likely that your solar panels will occasionally get covered with leaves or bird droppings, especially during the fall season, so a heavier clean-up may be required.
  • If you live in a humid environment, cleaning solar panels more often is better since there is more residue of dust that’s going around in the air.

Gaining Efficiency After Cleaning

After cleaning your solar panels, the results should be immediate! Your efficiency should be back up to normal pace, and your solar panels will be a lot cleaner with only 10 minutes of your time.

Depending on your area of living, as mentioned above, you’ll want to clean off your solar panels every four-to-six months. It’s a lot tougher to accomplish that if you’re needing to climb your house to spray your panels down, but it has to be done in order for your solar panels to start producing power at normal efficiency again.

Common FAQS

There are a lot of frequently asked questions that we receive and get asked, so we have compiled a list of the best questions and answered them here:

Can you get electrocuted cleaning solar panels?

You cannot get electrocuted during the cleaning process of solar panels if the wirings are safely hidden from the open.

Solar panels are meant to be out in the open where rain is a common occurrence, so if you’re spraying down the solar panels with water, it shouldn’t electrocute you in any way, but it’s always a great idea to make sure that everything is in proper shape before attempting any cleaning on the panels.

Can a water jet damage the solar panel’s surface?

No, a strong water jet won’t damage the solar panel’s surface, solely due to the fact that solar panels are meant to take on great forces such as wind speeds and hail.

Most solar panels are built with a special, strong glass that’s hard to damage, but the only way solar panels would be damaged is if you were using a fire hydrant’s water pressure to clean off the solar panels—fire hydrants use a pressure of 50 psi whereas you should use no more than 15 psi.

Can you walk on solar panels?

In theory, yes, you can walk on solar panels, but we don’t recommend it!

Solar panels are strong, but a load of concentrated weight in a tiny area can cause the solar panel to bend or crack—the outside is coated with aluminum most of the time which is for preventing wind damage or hail damage, but it doesn’t account for human weight.

How much does it cost to have solar panels cleaned? Should I hire someone or do it myself?

Cleaning solar panels by yourself is cheap and easy—All you’ll need is a strong garden hose and a water outlet. If you’re wanting to climb the house, make sure you’ve got a ladder and a bucket for cleaning the hard-to-reach spots.

Hiring someone to clean the solar panels for you isn’t always a bad idea, but it can get expensive. The upside to hiring someone is that you’re almost guaranteed that your solar panels will be clean, and any damage (if any) that is made on the solar panels is paid for by the cleaner.

The downside of hiring someone to professionally clean your solar panels is the cost—they might charge you all at once, or they might charge by the hour which can get costly in the long run.

Is Windex safe to use on solar panels?

No, Windex is not safe to use on solar panels, and we do not recommend using Windex on solar panels.

Windex, like other surface and glass cleaners, contains ammonia inside of it which can cause some of the coating of the solar panels to wipe off and erase. Companies do make safe-to-use, solar-panel-cleaning solutions to use on solar panels, and they’re fairly cheap.

Do I need to turn off solar panels to clean them?

Yes, solar panels and the solar system should be shut down during the cleaning process.

If you’re worried that you might be losing out on some power while cleaning the solar panels, we recommend cleaning the solar panels during morning or evening hours since you won’t be collecting a whole lot of energy.

Another great time to wash your solar panels is during a cloudy or overcast day, so your solar panels aren’t collecting a whole lot of solar energy. Just make sure that you don’t clean your panels on a rainy day, or else, it might ruin your cleaning process.

Can I use vinegar to clean my solar panels?

Yes, you can use vinegar to clean your solar panels—in fact, it’s encouraged!

Since vinegar is a natural cleaning product, it’ll clean your solar panels just as well as mild soap will. Just mix half-of-a-teaspoon of non-abrasive detergent or soap with two cups of water and a fourth-cup of vinegar to make a soft but effective solution for your solar panels.

How often should I clean my solar panels?

A good rule of thumb is that you should wash your solar panels twice a year or once every six months.

If your solar panels are becoming coated with dust and debris a lot quicker than most solar panels, then a good idea is to clean them every three months.

How do I prepare solar panels for the winter season?

You don’t have to do anything special to the solar panels for winter, but because of the snow, there will be an impact on your solar panels.

Just like cleaning your driveway and sidewalks, you’ll also have to take a broom or something soft to get snow off of your solar panels, or otherwise, it’ll affect your electricity output—most of the time, with light snow and sunshine, the black surface of the solar panel should attract enough heat to cause the snow to melt on its own.

How much solar efficiency is lost if I don’t clean them?

According to engineers at UC San Diego, about 7.5% of efficiency is lost due to dust build-up on solar panels.

Now, to some, this may not seem like a lot—if you were saving $100 every month on electricity, you might now be saving around $93 every month which can add up to $84/year just because of not cleaning.

Key Takeaways

  • Cleaning the solar panel preserves power efficiency and saves you money
  • No need fancy cleaning equipment to clean
  • Safety is number 1 when being on the rooftop, hire a professional is worth every penny

Ying Xu

Graduated from the University of Kansas with an Aerospace Engineering degree & served 4 years as an US Air Force officer. Experienced with basic survival skills, weapon system security,  technical disaster recovery, and system troubleshooting

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