The Ultimate Guide to Solar Panel Cleaning for Your Business: What to Do and What Not to do

Introduction

As the need for sustainable energy solutions continues to gain momentum, an increasing number of homes and businesses in the UK have embraced solar panels. With 1.3 million households (accounting for 4.1% of the total)1 already equipped with solar panels, this figure is projected to triple by 2027 in response to the urgent climate crises we face today.

As people and businesses are shifting towards more eco-conscious practices, the aspiration to achieve net-zero emissions has become a priority. It is no surprise, then, that businesses are following suit with 1 in 3 now opting for solar panel installations in the UK2. This not only helps reduce costs but also contributes towards a greener future, making it a win-win situation for both the environment and the economy.

However, amidst the growing adoption of solar panels, one crucial aspect that often gets overlooked is proper cleaning and maintenance. It is important to understand that keeping solar panels clean is paramount to ensure their optimal performance and power generation capacity. In this blog, we will delve into the significance of regular solar panel cleaning. From maximising energy production and efficiency to extending the lifespan of your panels, we will explore the several reasons why keeping them clean is an essential aspect of solar panel ownership.

Why Clean Your Solar Panels?

Studies have revealed a remarkable 60% increase in the productivity of solar panels with just a single cleaning session. This significant boost in efficiency can have a profound impact on businesses. In addition to the financial benefits, it is worth noting that regular maintenance and cleaning may also be a requirement to maintain the insurance warranty of the panels. Therefore, incorporating routine cleaning as part of your solar panel maintenance not only ensures optimal performance but also safeguards your investment by adhering to warranty conditions.

Solar panels are designed to be exposed to the elements, making them susceptible to accumulating dirt, bird droppings, water residue, and other deposits caused by various weather and environmental conditions. Over time, this accumulation leads to the formation of residues and a layer of grime on the surface of the solar panels. Unfortunately, this buildup hampers the panels’ ability to absorb sunlight effectively, resulting in reduced energy absorption and, ultimately, diminished power generation.

Regular cleaning of solar panels is crucial to remove these residues and maintain their optimal performance. By keeping the panels clean, you can ensure that they continue to absorb sunlight at their maximum capacity. This, in turn, allows the solar panels to generate the highest amount of energy possible, maximising their effectiveness and efficiency.

Large solar panels with sky background

When and How Often Should You Be Cleaning them?

Recent studies conducted by the University of California shed light on the significance of regular cleaning. In fact, their research revealed that the energy efficiency of solar panels can decrease by a significant 7.4% when left uncleaned for just 145 days3. This finding emphasises the importance of proper maintenance to maximise the performance of your solar panels.

To ensure optimal power generation, it is generally recommended to clean your solar panels once or twice a year. However, certain factors can influence the frequency of cleaning. For instance, if you live in an area with heavy rainfall or prone to dust and debris accumulation, you may need to clean your panels more often.

How To Clean Solar Panels

What not to do ❌

Before we delve into how to clean your solar panels, it is crucial to understand what not to do. Attempting to clean solar panels with tap water and chemicals is ineffective and can actually cause more damage. When tap water evaporates, it leaves behind mineral deposits, particularly calcium, on the surface of the panels. This creates a barrier between the photovoltaic cells and the sun, hindering the amount of sunlight that can reach the cells and diminishing their energy-generating capabilities.

For a similar reason, it is crucial to avoid using abrasive sponges or any rough cleaning equipment when cleaning solar panels, as they can potentially scratch the glass surface. Scratch marks on the glass can disrupt the smooth flow of sunlight onto the photovoltaic cells, reducing the efficiency and power output of the panels.

It might sound obvious, but it is equally important to avoid touching or standing on the panels, as these actions can potentially cause damage, and in some cases, may even result in cracking. Handling the panels with care preserves their structural integrity and ensures their long-lasting performance.

Tap Water
Harsh Chemical
Abrasive sponges or any rough cleaning equipment/ materials
Avoid touching or standing on the panels

What you should do ✅

When it comes to cleaning solar panels, there are several important steps to follow to ensure thorough and safe maintenance. Primarily, prioritise your safety by having stable and secure footing. This will help prevent any accidents or injuries while working on the panels.

However, If the solar panels are in a hard-to-reach place at a significant height, it is advisable to seek assistance from a professional solar panel cleaning service. Professionals possess the specialised equipment and expertise to undertake the task and ensure that all necessary safety precautions are taken. Engaging a professional cleaning service guarantees a thorough and safe cleaning process, even for panels situated in challenging locations. By entrusting the cleaning to experts, you can have peace of mind knowing that the job will be carried out efficiently and in compliance with necessary safety standards.

Next, gather all the necessary equipment for effective cleaning. This includes a soft-bristle brush, a squeegee with a rubber blade, a bucket of clean water, and a non-abrasive cleaning solution. It’s important to choose a biodegradable soap or a mild detergent that is safe for the environment. Harsh chemicals can potentially damage the panel’s surface or leave behind residue that hinders its performance.

Additionally, using a biodegradable cloth or a microfiber towel is crucial. These materials are gentle and non-abrasive, which prevents scratching or damaging the panel’s surface while effectively removing dirt and grime.

When cleaning the solar panels, start by rinsing them with clean water to remove any loose debris. Then, using the soft-bristle brush, gently scrub the panels in a circular motion to remove stubborn dirt. Rinse again with clean water to ensure all the soap or detergent is removed.

To finish, use the squeegee with a rubber blade to remove excess water and leave the panels streak-free. Be careful not to press too hard or use rough materials that can cause damage.

It is important to check the manufacturer’s guidelines or consult with professionals for any specific cleaning recommendations depending on the type and model of your solar panels.

By following these steps and utilising eco-friendly cleaning products, you can maintain clean and efficient solar panels without harming the environment or the panel’s performance. Regular cleaning helps maximise the panel’s power output and ensures optimal energy production for your household or business.

Prioritise safety
✅Use the right Equipment
✅Use clean or purified water
✅Biodegradable soap
✅Biodegradable cloth
✅Seek a professional solar panel cleaner if needed

Men Fitting Solar Panels on Roof

Conclusion

In conclusion, regular maintenance and cleaning of solar panels are essential for optimal performance and power generation. Cleaning your solar panels not only increases their efficiency but also extends their lifespan. Studies have shown that a single cleaning session can boost solar panel productivity by 60%. Additionally, keeping your solar panels clean may be required to maintain the insurance warranty of the panels. It is important to clean your panels once or twice a year, although factors such as heavy rainfall or dust accumulation may require more frequent cleaning. When cleaning solar panels, it is crucial to avoid tap water, harsh chemicals, abrasive cleaning equipment, and touching or standing on the panels. Instead, use a soft-bristle brush, a squeegee with a rubber blade, a bucket of clean water, and eco-friendly cleaning solutions. Seeking assistance from professional solar panel cleaning services for hard-to-reach panels is advisable. By following these guidelines, you can ensure clean and efficient solar panels that contribute to a greener future.

How We Can Help
This is why we are here to help with our expert team of solar panel cleaners. Many people and businesses are unaware that neglecting regular cleaning can result in substantial financial costs associated with solar panels. Ensuring the consistent cleanliness of your solar panels is essential to of your entire system.

“At Pristine Commercial Cleaning Services, we recommend cleaning solar panels every 3 to 12 months, depending on a multitude of factors. By doing so, you can increase the power input, save money, and contribute to saving the planet!”
Highlighted Tracie Dudley Shaw, Director at Pristine.

Pristine Commercial Cleaning Services provides dedicated and fully trained solar panel cleaners throughout the UK.  Our team of dedicated professionals is fully trained and equipped with the necessary cleaning and safety equipment to reach even the most inaccessible areas. Whether you need regular cleaning or a one-time service for your business, we are here to help you. If you require assistance from our professionals, please do not hesitate to contact us. You can reach us at 0808 503 7550, or alternatively, fill out the contact form provided, to receive a free, no-obligation quote.

References

  1. https://www.theecoexperts.co.uk/blog/national-home-energy-survey-2023
  2. https://www.moleenergy.com/2019/08/08/1-in-3-uk-businesses-have-solar-pv/#:~:text=A%20recent%20report%20by%20The,to%20generate%20their%20own%20power.
  3. https://palmetto.com/learning-center/blog/solar-panel-cleaning-what-homeowners-should-know

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