Knowledge BaseSolar Panels

How to Clean Solar Panels (Expert Tips & Tricks)

By:Michael Johns

How to clean solar panels

There is no doubt that solar panels are an incredibly effective way to generate electricity in a number of situations. 

You probably already know this!

In the long run, it can save you a lot of money on energy bills thanks to the sun’s free energy.

To get the best bang for your buck it is best practice to regularly clean solar panels. 

Whether you have them installed on your home roof, van, RV, food truck, or cabin you’ll need to take the time to thoroughly clean solar panels in order to increase their lifespan and efficiency.

After all, if your solar panels are covered in leaves or dirt how can you expect them to absorb sunlight?

Our solar experts have put together this helpful guide in how to clean solar panels. Adding to this, you’ll also learn the amazing benefits and how to check if they need cleaning.

Let’s get stuck in. (Elbow grease may be required…)

How to Check if Your Solar Panels Need Cleaning

It’s pretty easy to know if your solar panels need cleaning. You can do a simple visual check to ensure the glass is clean and clear – just like how you know a window needs cleaning.

Take a close look at the glass on the solar panel to check for any dirt, leaves, moss, or grease that might be blocking the sunlight from reaching the solar cells. If there’s anything blocking the light then it’s time for a good clean.

Another tell-tale sign of a dirty solar panel is reduced efficiency. Have you seen a reduction in the amount of electricity your setup is producing, even in the middle of summer? The most likely reason is dirt reducing the amount of sunlight reaching the solar cells.

Why Clean Solar Panels?

Many people forget their solar panels need to be cleaned. It can be easy to forget this simple task as you often have them mounted on your roof and don’t think about it any longer. There are two important benefits of cleaning solar panels which are:

  • Optimal efficiency – To keep gaining the most efficient amount of power from the sun means your solar cells need direct sunlight. Anything stopping sunlight from hitting your panel will reduce the efficiency.
  • Increase life span – Properly maintaining your solar system helps it to last longer before it needs replacing. You can help stop the glass, cells, and frame from deteriorating with regular cleaning.
Dusty solar panels on roof
Dusty solar panels are inefficient

How to Clean Solar Panels – Step by Step

If you are cleaning solar panels at home then there are a few important steps to get the best result and ensure you don’t cause any damage.

First things first, get yourself the right equipment for the job – you’ll need more than a bucket and sponge. Plus don’t use soapy water, bleach, or other unsuitable chemicals.

For the best results buy a solar panel cleaning kit and some solar panel cleaning solutions. You could also use a soft brush, window squeegee, and soft cloth.

Step 1 – Wait for a cloudy day or early morning to do your cleaning. Solar panels can get hot in the sun which will evaporate water too quickly for cleaning.

Step 2 – Use a soft brush to remove any loose dust before adding any water.

Step 3 – Grab your hose and give the surface an initial clean water wash and soaking. This helps to remove dirt and prepare for the cleaning solution.

Step 4 – Scrub any hard to remove dirt from the glass. A solar panel/window cleaning kit with circular brushes can help no end. For tough grime solar panel cleaner will help cut through for a streak-free finish.

Step 5 – Thoroughly rinse off the panels to get rid of any remaining cleaning solution and dirt. You can use a rubber squeegee if needed to leave a streak-free finish.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Let’s answer some of the most common solar panel cleaning questions.

Do solar panels need to be cleaned?

Solar panels don’t need to be cleaned but it is best practice to regularly remove any grime or dirt. Cleaning solar panels helps to ensure maximum efficiency in produce electricity from sunlight while elongating their lifespan. Quite often rain will do a good job in removing any loose substances on the panel surface.

Is cleaning solar panels worth it?

You might be thinking that cleaning solar panels is another chore that is not worth the hassle, especially if your panels are mounted high up on your roof. Well, it might be a bit annoying, but keeping your solar panels clean is definitely worth it! It will help them operate at maximum efficiency saving you money in the long run. Depending on where you live dust, sand, grease, leaves, and moss can all end up on solar panels.

Is it OK to pressure wash solar panels?

You shouldn’t use a high-pressure washer to clean your panels. They are expensive pieces of electronic systems and should be treated with care. You can use simple techniques like clean water, soft brushes, sponges, and cloths to remove any dirt build-up.

Can you clean solar panels with tap water?

You can use tap water to clean solar panels but should avoid using any chemicals or soaps to clean solar panels as they will leave behind microfilm that dirt sticks to. Tap water and rain will clean your panels but for maximum efficiency, you should use deionized water instead. This is just like the way you clean windows.

Can you clean solar panels with vinegar?

Yes, a natural substance like vinegar can be a great way to clean solar panels. It is a well-known way to effectively clean glass without leaving streaks. Add a quarter of a cup of vinegar to every 2 cups of water for a cleaning solution.

Can I clean my solar panels with Windex?

Yes, some people finish cleaning their solar panels with outdoor glass Windex.

Can you walk on solar panels?

Don’t walk on solar panels. It is especially important not to walk on glass solar panels as you might risk breaking them. Standard solar panels are not designed to support the weight of a human, even with tempered glass and aluminum frames.

How often should I clean my solar panels?

This is completely up to you. Some people clean their panels based on how much dirt has built up. For example, you might do a cleaning in the fall to remove any leaves. Depending on where you live you may also suffer from excessive dust build-up in the summer. It’s best practice to fully clean solar panels every six months to maintain maximum efficiency.

Why won’t solar panels charge my battery?

The most common reason for solar panels not charging a battery is dirt. If your solar panels are covered in dirt and sunlight can’t get through to the solar cells then they will not be able to charge you batteries.