Solar panels are an excellent investment for property owners looking to harness the power of renewable energy and reduce their carbon footprint. But to ensure maximum efficiency and longevity of solar systems, maintaining and cleaning solar panels regularly is crucial. In this comprehensive guide, we will provide you with everything you need to know about professional solar panel cleaning for residential and commercial properties, including why it is important, how to clean solar panels, and the best way to do it.
The Most Common Culprits for Dirty Solar Panels
Both residential and commercial solar panels can become dirty due to various factors, which can reduce their efficiency and performance. Here are some common reasons why solar panels can get dirty:
- Dust and Pollen: Dust particles and pollen are naturally present in the environment and can settle on the surface of solar panels over time. This accumulation can obstruct sunlight and reduce the panels’ ability to generate electricity.
- Bird Droppings and Nesting Material: Birds may perch or nest near solar panels, leading to droppings and the accumulation of nesting materials. Besides being unsightly, bird droppings can create a barrier that hinders sunlight from reaching the solar panel surface.
- Leaves and Debris: Trees or nearby foliage can shed leaves, branches, and other debris onto solar panels. This can block sunlight and create shaded areas on the panels, decreasing their overall efficiency.
- Pollution and Industrial Residues: In urban areas, air pollution and industrial emissions can deposit particles and residues on solar panels. These substances can form a film or layer on the panel surface, diminishing the amount of sunlight that can penetrate and reach the photovoltaic cells.
- Rainwater Streaks and Mineral Deposits: Rainwater alone typically does not make solar panels dirty. However, when rainwater evaporates, it can leave behind streaks or mineral deposits from dissolved minerals or impurities in the water. Over time, these deposits can accumulate and affect the panel’s performance.
It’s important to note that the severity of dirt accumulation on solar panels can vary depending on the local environment, weather conditions, and surrounding factors. Regular cleaning and maintenance, as recommended by the manufacturer or installer, can help keep solar panels clean and ensure optimal energy production.
Why Should I Clean My Solar Panels?
Ensuring regular cleaning of your solar panels is crucial for maximising their energy production and overall efficiency. Dirty panels can significantly reduce their performance, leading to decreased electricity generation. By keeping them clean, the panels can absorb the maximum amount of sunlight, optimising their output and increasing their return on investment. While some may consider DIY cleaning, opting for professional help offers several advantages. This is especially true about commercial solar panels. DIY cleaning may be easier for residential solar systems, but solar panels for your commercial properties, particularly the ones with multiple levels will require special tools and equipment which you may not have readily available.
Professionals have the expertise and equipment to safely and effectively clean the panels without causing damage. They can identify any underlying issues, such as potential defects or damage, while providing thorough cleaning to remove stubborn dirt, debris, or residue. Ultimately, professional cleaning services can help save time, ensure proper maintenance, and extend the lifespan of solar panels, enabling owners to reap the full benefits of their solar energy system.
The Impact of Cleaning Solar Panels on Energy Production
Cleaning solar panels can improve energy production by 5-10%. While the impact may be minimal for small residential systems, it can be significant for commercial and utility-scale solar farms. Quick calculations show that cleaning small residential systems only results in a few tens of dollars in energy bill savings. However, for larger installations, a 5-10% increase in energy production can make a noticeable difference. Commercial and utility-scale solar farms, with their higher panel count and exposure to environmental factors, benefit from regular cleaning or professional panel cleaning services. By ensuring the cleanliness of your solar panels, you can maximise their efficiency and the benefits of clean, renewable energy.
Is Rainwater Enough to Clean Tilted Panels?
While the tilt of solar panels, especially in sunny Australia, is designed to capture optimal sunlight, it also offers a bonus: aiding in the self-cleaning process during rainfall. When raindrops hit the panels, they can help wash away some loose dirt and dust. However, let’s not put all our eggs in the rain basket. Rainwater alone isn’t enough to give your panels a thorough cleanse.
Over time, more stubborn grime like bird droppings or accumulated dust can create a layer that light showers can’t handle. Think of it like your car windshield; while rain can clear away some dirt, for that real shine and clarity, you’d still give it a proper wash now and then. Similarly, for the best performance and longevity of your solar panels, professional cleaning complements what the rain can do.
How Professionals Clean Solar Panels
Professional residential and commercial solar panel cleaners have the expertise, experience, and necessary equipment to clean the panels effectively and safely. Curious about how the experts do it? Here is a general overview of the steps involved in professional solar panel cleaning:
- Inspection: Professionals start by inspecting the panels for any visible damage or defects. They check for cracks, loose connections, or any signs of wear and tear that may require attention.
- Pre-Cleaning: Before the cleaning process begins, professionals ensure the panels are cool to avoid thermal shock. They may also perform a quick rinse to remove loose debris.
- Cleaning Solution: A gentle, non-abrasive cleaning solution is applied to the surface of the panels. This solution helps loosen and dissolve dirt, grime, and other contaminants.
- Soft Brushing: Using soft bristle brushes or specialised cleaning tools, professionals gently scrub the panels to remove stubborn dirt and debris. They take care not to apply excessive pressure to avoid damaging the panels.
- Rinsing: After the scrubbing process, the panels are thoroughly rinsed with water to ensure a spotless finish. The residual water is removed through a squeegee to prevent streaks.
- Drying: Once the panels are rinsed, they are left to air dry naturally. Professionals avoid using towels or abrasive materials that could scratch the surface of the panels.
The Best Way to Clean Solar Panels
To ensure the best results, it is recommended to follow these best practices when cleaning solar panels:
- Safety First: Prioritise safety by wearing appropriate personal protective equipment and following necessary safety protocols when working at heights.
- Timing Matters: Plan the cleaning process during cooler times of the day to minimise the risk of thermal shock. Cleaning early in the morning or late in the evening when the panels are not exposed to direct sunlight is ideal.
- Non-Abrasive Cleaning Tools: Use soft-bristle brushes, squeegees, or specialised cleaning tools specifically designed for solar panel cleaning. Avoid abrasive materials or harsh chemicals that can damage the panels.
- Demineralised Water: Rinse the panels with distilled or deionised water to prevent mineral deposits and streaks from forming, ensuring a clean and clear surface.
Note that these DIY practices may not offer the same results as having your solar panels professionally cleaned especially for commercial buildings. For your convenience and safety, we recommend working with professionals who have experience and the necessary tools and equipment to deliver the results you want.
How Often to Clean Solar Panels
The frequency of solar panel cleaning depends on various factors, including location, surrounding environment, and debris accumulation. Generally, it is recommended to have solar panels professionally cleaned at least twice a year. However, certain conditions may warrant more frequent cleaning. For instance, areas with high dust levels, proximity to construction sites, or regions with frequent rainfall may require additional cleanings to prevent debris from obstructing sunlight absorption.
Regular inspections are crucial in determining the need for cleaning. If there is a noticeable decrease in energy production or visible dirt buildup, it is a clear indication that cleaning is necessary. By staying proactive and attentive to the condition of solar panels, optimal performance can be ensured. Whether through professional services or personal efforts, maintaining a regular cleaning schedule is vital to maximising the benefits of solar energy.
O’Brien Maintenance Group – Your Trusted Solar Panel Cleaning Partner
When it comes to professional residential and commercial solar panel cleaning, you need a trusted and experienced partner to ensure exceptional results. At O’Brien Maintenance Group, we specialise in providing top-quality residential and commercial solar maintenance, partnering with property managers to provide thorough large-scale solar cleaning services. With our expertise and state-of-the-art equipment, we deliver thorough and efficient cleanings tailored to the specific needs of your managed properties’ solar systems.
Our team of trained technicians follows industry best practices and safety protocols to ensure the utmost care and attention to detail during the cleaning process. We use safe cleaning solutions and non-abrasive tools to protect the integrity of the solar panels while achieving optimal cleanliness.
If you’re seeking professional solar panel cleaning services, look no further than O’Brien Maintenance Group. Contact us today to schedule a cleaning and experience the benefits of our expert services.