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Do I Need to Clean My Solar Panels?

Looking Into Solar but Afraid of the Upkeep? Let's Talk Panel Maintenance!

Last updated on August 16, 2019, by Yesenia Torres | Written by Nina Goodey

So you’re looking at solar panels and you’re wondering about the upkeep - do you need to clean them? How often? Which products should you use?


Well, first of all - good news! You probably don’t need to clean them at all! Sure, your panels might be dusty or dirty and have some very slight productivity loss (about $20/year at most for an average home system if you don’t clean them), but the occasional rain will take care of it for you. 


If your panels look a little dusty but they’re still performing the same, it’s probably better to just leave them alone - if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!


" can clean your panel like a window..."

cleaning supplies in a basket

It’s worth checking with your solar providers to find out if they have any specific recommendations, or if any maintenance services come included with the initial purchase or installation price tag. 


Of course, there are a number of situations that can get your panel dirty to the point you need actual maintenance. Let’s take a look at problems and solutions.

(Disclaimer: please keep in mind that if you have a rooftop solar installation, you may need to hire professionals for safety’s sake. Also, we don’t recommend doing this in the afternoon when it’s hot and sunny - the panels can burn your hands and dry too fast to clean well. Whatever you choose to do, please be safe!)

My panels are dusty and I live somewhere that doesn’t get a lot of rain.

This one’s easy - just hose off your panels. (Don’t power-wash them, you can damage the panels.)

My panels are still dirty after getting rained on/hosed off.

There might be lots of dirt, bird poop, or other debris on your panel. In that case, you can clean your panel like it’s a window. Mix warm water and mild soap (like dish soap - don’t use laundry detergent!), and wash the panels gently with a soft cloth or sponge. You may not even need soap - water typically works just fine. The most important thing here is not to scratch the panel. You don’t need to clean the cables.

My panels are covered in snow.

Since panels are typically slanted and facing the sun, the snow should melt off on its own and you’ll be good to go. If your panels are laid flat or if the snow’s not melting, consider getting a solar panel snow rake to softly slide snow off. Don’t use a normal broom or snow shovel to try to knock snow off, you might scratch your panels!

My panels are covered in leaves/debris that won’t blow off.

Like snow, you can get a roof brush (find one that’s recommended for solar panels) and just slide the leaves off. 


"...there are self-cleaning solar systems you can buy..."

My panels have oily spots.

This might happen if you live near an airport or highly used truck route. Use a rag and some isopropyl alcohol to carefully clean the spots.

I want to wash my panels, but my water is hard water.

If your water is mineral-heavy, you made need to squeegee your panel hard to keep deposits or streaks from being left on the panel.

I can’t/don’t want to clean my panels.

There are self-cleaning solar systems you can buy for a bit more. Also, check with your solar providers or installers to find out if any periodic maintenance is included with your panels.

Ok. Anything else I should know?

If you do choose to clean your panels, check the productivity before and after. You may notice a difference, or you may not - something worth keeping in mind. It might not be worth all the trouble of regularly setting up a ladder, climbing up to the roof, and washing large panels under a hot sun for a barely noticeable increase in savings. 

I can’t/don’t want to clean my panels.

There are self-cleaning solar systems you can buy for a bit more. Also, check with your solar providers or installers to find out if any periodic maintenance is included with your panels.

Wrapping Up

How much maintenance you put into your panels is up to you, but generally you don’t need to clean them at all. Install your panels, then sit back and enjoy producing your own clean, sustainable energy. If you have further questions or concerns, visit our FAQ, our blog, or our contact page. Santan Solar is here to make your switch to solar power as seamless as possible!

About The Author

Nina Goodey is a guest writer for SanTan Solar.

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