Why Is It Important To Clean Home Solar Panels?

Wondering if you might need to dust off your solar system? Dirty solar panels are not only unsightly, but they also significantly reduce the performance of your solar PV system!

Can cleaning dirty solar panels improve their performance?

Yes! Cleaning your system can massively improve the amount of electricity generated. 

General pollution can settle on your panels over time. If enough grime builds up, sunlight can begin to struggle to reach solar cells. If your solar PV panels are connected in a string array, having even one solar cell coated in dirt will result in a drop in efficiency, affecting the overall performance of your solar panel system. Cleaning your panels will solve this problem.

How Will I Know When To Clean My Solar Panels?

There are two main signs that your solar panels should be cleaned. First; you can noticeably see dirt on the top of your panels. The second is when the amount of electricity generated by the panels begins to drop. You'll know if your efficiency has fallen by either looking at your solar app (if you have one,) or looking at the meter on your system. After having your solar panels cleaned, you should notice an increase in efficiency!

why you should clean your solar panels guide

How Do You Clean Solar Panels?

After solar panel installation, you shouldn't have to clean your system more than once a year. In most cases, getting your renewable energy system cleaned is a professional job, especially if they are roof-mounted panels. This is because it is difficult to gain safe access to your South or other facing roofs otherwise. Another factor to consider is that if you damage your solar panels in any manner, your warranty or MCS certificate will most certainly be voided.

Does rain in the UK automatically clean solar panels?

Natural rain will help to wash your solar power system for you. A solar PV system is considered to be a fairly low maintenance piece of equipment. You'll usually find a system installed on a slight angle, to help any dirt or debris slide off. You might still want to book a professional cleaner now and again, just to keep your system in tip-top condition. This will also improve the amount of electricity generated.

Remember, you should always hire an MCS accredited solar installer when cleaning your solar PV system. This is because if you alter things yourself, you might invalidate any warranties you have. This would mean you might not be able to get SEG rewards from the national grid.

How Much Does It Cost To Hire Someone To Clean Solar Panels?

The cost to hire someone to clean a solar panel array is determined by the size of the PV System. Generally, a professional solar panel clean starts at £200. We always recommend hiring a professional. Choosing to try to clean panels with no experience puts you at risk of harming your panels, or even yourself. A solar specialist will have access to the correct equipment and safety knowledge, making their service well worth the cost.

How often should you clean your solar panels?

To keep your panels at their most energy-efficient, we recommend cleaning them once a year. A solar PV system is guaranteed to last you at least 25 years. Your panels will definitely need at least one professional clean in that time! Remember, maintaining your panels will ensure they knock more off of your energy bill, so giving them a scrub will be a good investment. After all, the point of going solar is to save on your electricity bills!

Cleaning a solar battery isn't necessary. Battery storage solar systems don't need cleaning as they are stored inside a property and don't contain solar cells. You might still want to give them a little dust now and again.

Smart Energy's Best Tips for cleaning your solar panels

Looking to clean solar panels yourself?

How clean your solar panels guide

1. Use a small amount of water when cleaning panels

Never use a high-pressure water system or even a hose to clean panels! Remember, your solar PV array contains live wires and electric cabling. Using a lot of water at high pressure could result in water going in unwanted places that could damage your system. Instead, use a small amount of water and be gentle.

2. Avoid harsh cleaning products

Harsh cleaning products, such as chemical-based solutions and coarse sponges are likely to harm the surface of your solar panels. You should avoid scratching your panels as this will reduce the amount of electricity the panels put out. You should even avoid soap!

Simple water is the best option to clean your solar system. However, if you do want to use a cleaning product, Polywater produces a specialised cleaning solution that is gentle on the surface of panels. It's labelled as "an effective cleaner that maximizes power production and prolongs the life of solar panel installations."

3. Shut down your solar system before cleaning

Never clean your panels with a live system. You should instead turn your solar system off. Working with live wires will put you at risk of electrocution! Shutting down your solar ensures you will be working in a safe environment. If you're worried about putting yourself at risk, contact a professional solar specialist.

4. Clean your solar panels on a cloudy day

To avoid leaving watermarks, never clean your solar PV array on a hot day. This is because water will evaporate too quickly, and will leave marks. Marks will not only be unsightly, but they will also affect your solar energy performance. By cleaning solar on a colder day, you'll have time to wipe your panels dry.

Can you buy solar panels that clean themselves?

Some solar panels in the UK are labelled as 'self-cleaning.' But what does self-cleaning actually mean? Self-cleaning solar panels are protected with a hydrophobic coating. The coating effectively prevents moisture from adhering to the surface of the panel. Water is therefore repelled, along with any buildup. However, from time to time, you will still need a professional solar clean. This is because 'self-cleaning' panels won't catch every bit of dust, and unfortunately, bird poo can be a major build-up found on solar panels!