If you’re already deep into your summer clean, then you should also be thinking about your solar panels. A long winter may have resulted in a build-up of grime, dirt and debris, bird poo and leaves that can impede your panels’ performance.
The cells in your solar panels need as much light as possible to get to them to work and anything that blocks the light prevents this. Even something thin like a twig or branch can disrupt the output of a panel, so it’s important to keep them clear.
Keep an eye on your output
Most of the time, wind and rain will keep your panels free of twigs and dust, but if you see a slow but unexplained slide in output, it could be time for a spruce-up.
Summer is the ideal time, because you can fit it into your general clean-up. An annual wash and brush-up will take care of any slight dips in performance whether you’ve noticed them or not. Grime can build up over the course of a year, with a lot of it happening over winter, so you should get your panels purring just in time for the longer, warmer days.
This is how you do it
You shouldn’t use detergents and most certainly no abrasives as these can scratch the surface of your panels and this is irreparable. All you need is a hose and maybe a very soft, long-handled brush. It’s a good idea, if you’re using a brush or sponge, to buy a new one for this task so that there’s no chance of embedded grit damaging the surface of the panels.
Ideally you should clean the panels early in the morning or in the evening to avoid the hot sun (which means hot panels) causing smearing as the water evaporates.
If you find that a branch or another heavy object has fallen on the panels then you’ll need to get your installer in to check over your array in case there’s any damage and to do the repairs. You shouldn’t usually have to rub or scrub the panels, but if you do find some stubborn bird poo, soak it first then use a very soft cloth, sponge or brush to remove it. Never use a scraping tool, even a rubber or plastic one, on your panels.
Doing it safely
If you’re unable to reach your panels yourself, or clean them safely, then you should call in your installer to do it for you. They can also give the system a quick once-over while they’re up there.