Learn how to properly maintain and extend the longevity of your solar system.
Solar panels are usually installed at the right tilt to self-clean whenever there’s a good downpour of rain. In dry regions, however, the wind can blow dust onto your panels and with a minimal panel tilt, rain might not rinse it off sufficiently. Likewise, if you live on the coast, the salt air can leave a sticky film that might impact the amount of solar power your system generates. In addition to this, bird droppings or leaves can also build up on your panels. As with most other types of electrical equipment, solar photovoltaic systems need regular maintenance to ensure they continue to function safely and efficiently.
For anyone considering getting their panels cleaned, contact a Clean Energy Council Accredited technician rather than attempting this yourself or having an unqualified technician complete the work.
How often should solar panels be cleaned?
Every installation is different and there isn’t a one size fits all solution to keeping your panels clean.
You may be wondering if solar panels need cleaning? In most situations, panels are self cleaning and do not need to be cleaned. However, if you can see build up on the panels or if your bills or monitoring tools suggest a decrease in the efficiency, it may be worth considering a system health check or clean. This can be organised through an accredited technician.
How do you clean solar panels and what do you clean them with?
Due to the fact that solar panels are usually installed on the roof, you should always hire a professional, Clean Energy Council accredited technician to clean them. The power produced by solar panels is every bit as dangerous as conventional electricity, which is why it’s recommended that you call an installer or electrician for maintenance of your system.1
In addition to cleaning the panels, a technician may choose to carry out a complete system health check to ensure that your system is running optimally.
Step #1: Perform a safety inspection and check the system for defects
Solar panels are powerful energy generators, which is why it is important to follow safety precautions.
Before cleaning your solar panels, a professional technician should check for obvious defects, discolouration, and chips or cracks in the glass. Ensuring that the fittings and cables are securely attached to the supporting frame and inverter is an important step in solar panel maintenance.
Step #2: Clear errors on the inverter display screen
A technician will also look at the inverter display, which may have recorded faults, and use the manufacturer’s troubleshooting recommendations to clear any errors.
Step #3: Clean the solar panels
The next step involves cleaning the panels with a garden hose and a soft sponge wrapped in a cloth, or a soft brush to remove any stubborn grime. As this activity is dangerous, it is essential that you engage an accredited Clean Energy Council technician to carry it out.
Remember, solar panels are made of glass which is prone to scratching.
Hard water tends to leave deposits when it dries on glass. If your water is hard, the technician may elect to use a squeegee to dry the panels afterwards.
The final word
Monitor your solar system’s functionality by monitoring your energy bills, the inverter or through a monitoring tool. If you notice changes in solar generation, it may be time for a system health check or to arrange for your panels to be cleaned.
- "Maintaining your solar photovoltaic (PV) system - worksafe.qld.gov.au." 23 Oct. 2017, https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/injury-prevention-safety/electricity/homeowners-and-consumers/maintaining-your-solar-photovoltaic-pv-system. Accessed 14 Dec. 2017.