Do Solar Panels Need Cleaning? Comparing The Impact, Cost and Benefits | Green Life Zen

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Since the rainfall is enough to free the surface of the panels of dirt and grime, solar panels don't need cleaning typically. However, if you have solar panels that are set up at a tilt of 10 ° or less, than you still need to clean your panels. This scenario is exceptional as rainfall is less effective at cleaning them.

Why You Need to Clean Solar Panels

The main reason why you need to clean your solar panels is the fact that the cleaner your panels are, the more effective they are and the more electrical power they will produce. The enhancement in performance is the reason for some argument, usually though the enhancements in performance are negligible, specifically when factoring the time and expense to perform the solar panel cleaning.

Performance impact of Cleaning Solar Panels

The impact cleaning solar panels has on output varies depending on site-specific conditions and how filthy your panels are! For our solar power calculations, we conservatively estimate the impact of dirt and grime on panels to account for a 5% loss in output. The 5% de-rating is considered an acceptable figure to use according to the Clean Energy Council. In Australia, a research study performed in Wollongong concluded that the effect of uncleaned panels on solar output was in the order of 1%, and therefore negligible.

Should You Clean Solar Panels that Have No Tilt?

If your panels are set up at an angle below 10°, you must think about routine cleaning. A google research study discovered that output enhanced by 100% after cleaning their panels for the first time in 15 months-- these panels were set up flat without any tilt. A second clean 8 months later enhanced output by 36%. 

Remarkably, the same research study concluded that the enhancement in output from cleaning the rooftop panels set up on an angle was negligible. The Wollongong and Google research studies both conclude that, cleaning solar panels set up on an angle has very minimal effect on their performance and output.

The Cost of Cleaning Solar Panels

The estimated cost to have your panels cleaned by profesionals is around $150. You will probably pay a lot more if the access to the roof is more difficult, or you have a large system. There's a cheaper option If you choose to clean the panels yourself. You will only pay the costs costs for soap and a suitable brush to perform the clean. However, you need to think about the cost of your time.

Should You Clean Your Solar Panels?

The problem with cleaning your panels is the cost vs benefit. Let's do the calculation before you decide. Getting a professional to perform the job will cost you around $150 just to get the improvement in output approximately about 5%. So, if your solar system makes savings of $1,500 per year, then a 5% improvement in output only amounts to a $75 saving. And if you clean the panels yourself, is the time, effort and threat to your safety worth the prospective cost savings? The choice is yours now!

How to Determine If Your Solar Panels Require a Cleaning

There are two common ways that you can do to determine if your solar panels need to be cleaned:

  1. Physical Assessment
  2. Evaluating Your System's Output

The best way to identify if you should clean your solar panels is to check them. If dirt and grime is extremely noticeable, or if you can see leaf litter and animal droppings, then more than likely they need to be cleaned immediately.

You can utilize a smart monitor to observe your system's solar output to determine if your panels might benefit from cleaning. Below is a list of items that might impact on the output of your solar panels:

  • Dust
  • Leaf litter
  • Pollen
  • Bird/ animal droppings
  • Traffic film
  • Salt
  • Lichen

 

DIY Cleaning

Before you decide to clean your solar panels yourself, make sure you do the perform with caution, the system is turned off, and you can safely access the solar panels. Be careful not to scratch the surface of the panels and never do the perform when the sun is shining brightly. It's most likely you'll get little benefit from the clean if your panels are set up on a decent tilt, so please weigh up the safety threats in advance.

Preventative Measures of Solar Panel Cleaning 

You will avoid possibility that you will need to routinely clean your solar panels if you can set up your panels at a tilt greater than 10° and place them where they are free of shading from trees. Solar shading from trees lower the output of your panels. Also leaf litter and animal droppings are most likely to be a problem from an overhanging tree.

Conclusion

Cleaning solar panels improves output only results in a very small improvement in efficiency and cost to clean them outweigh the benefits. If your panels are set up on an angle greater than 10°, they will clean themselves and you don't need to bother. So you don't actually need to clean your solar panels unless they are set up flat or if you are fastidious about maximizing the performance, it is suggested to clean them every 6 months that can give you a significant benefit to output.