Solar panels are exposed to severe weather conditions, so cleaning is a crucial aspect of maintaining your system and ensuring optimal energy production. Here’s everything you need to know about maintaining your solar panels in tip-top form.
Dirty solar panels may lose up to 20% of their energy production. While there’s no strict rule for cleaning frequency, it’s generally recommended to clean them at least twice a year. Different variables, including location, weather conditions, and panel types, can affect how often they accumulate dirt.
In Singapore, due to frequent rainfall, cleaning solar panels once a year is generally adequate, as rain helps rinse off loose dust and debris. However, manual cleaning remains necessary for more stubborn dirt. The angle of the solar panels also influences cleaning frequency. Panels with less steep angles tend to accumulate more debris, so if they are positioned more horizontally, it’s advisable to clean them more frequently, potentially twice a year, to prevent accumulation of materials that can block sunlight.
Step-by-Step Tutorial for Cleaning Solar Panels
1. Preparing for Cleaning
- Safety First: Ensure that you have safe access to your solar panels. Use a sturdy ladder and wear non-slip shoes for stability. Always wear a safety harness if working at heights, and secure yourself with ropes or safety lines as needed.
- Protective Gear: Wear protective gloves to safeguard your hands and safety glasses to protect your eyes from debris or cleaning solution splashes.
- Choose the Right Time: Ideally, clean your solar panels during the early morning or late evening to avoid hot surfaces and reduce the risk of heat-related discomfort or hazards.
2. Use a Water Hose
- Initial Rinse: Start by gently rinsing the panels with water to remove loose dirt and debris. A hose with a suitable nozzle can be used for this purpose.
3. Preparing Cleaning Solution
- Mixing Solution: Create a cleaning mixture using water and mild soap, such as dish soap. Alternatively, use a specialized solar panel cleaning solution for better results.
- Proportion: Ensure the soap is diluted properly; too much soap can leave residue.
4. Applying Cleaning Solution
- Soft Cloth or Squeegee: Apply the cleaning solution onto the panels using a soft cloth or a squeegee. The cloth should be non-abrasive to avoid scratching the panels.
5. Scrubbing Panels
- Soft-Bristled Brush: For stubborn dirt or bird droppings, use a soft-bristled brush. Gently scrub the affected areas to avoid damaging the panel’s surface.
6. Rinsing Again
- Thorough Rinse: Rinse the panels completely with water to ensure all cleaning solution and soap residues are removed.
7. Drying Panels
- Gentle Drying: Use a clean, soft towel or a squeegee to dry the panels. Avoid hard pressure or abrasive materials.
What NOT to Do
When cleaning solar panels, avoid procedures that might harm the panels or impair their efficiency:
- Don’t use abrasive materials or chemicals: Scratches or damage to the panels might impair their capacity to collect sunlight and create power. Avoid using abrasive products, such as scouring pads or wire brushes, and strong chemicals that might harm the panels.
- Don’t clean the panels on a bright day: Cleaning the panels while they are hot will cause the cleaning solution to evaporate too rapidly, leaving streaks or residue on the panels. Clean the panels on an overcast day or in the shade.
- Don’t use high-pressure hoses or gurneys: High-pressure water may cause damage to the panels and their seals, lowering their effectiveness and perhaps causing water damage to the electrical components. Don’t walk on the panels: Walking on the panels may cause physical damage, lowering their effectiveness and even voiding the manufacturer’s warranty.
Don’t forget to examine your panels periodically
Additionally, don’t forget to give your solar panels monthly checks to ensure they’re free from damage or fractures, but also from nests which tend to be made by birds and rats! Inspecting your panels to make sure they’re soaking up as much sun as possible can assist to keep your power costs down.
Solar Panel Maintenance
Maintaining solar panels is not as costly as some may think. Made from durable tempered glass, these panels can last 25 to 30 years, enduring various weather conditions with minimal maintenance required. Nonetheless, it’s advisable for solar panel owners to undertake preventive maintenance every 1 to 2 years. The cost for such maintenance typically ranges from SGD$300-500 per visit. Solar panel owners can contact their installers for cleaning and maintenance services, and for those seeking recommendations, contact us for a free consultation.
For All Things Installation: Understand the ins and outs of installing solar panels in Singapore.
Condo-specific Solar Installation: If you live in a condo, this page has all the tailored details of condo installation.
Cost Breakdown: Wondering about the costs? Here you’ll find a complete breakdown of what to expect price-wise.
Subsidies and Incentives: And for the financial perks, like subsidies, head over to see what’s available.