Why regular solar panel cleaning is critical: Keeping your solar system in pristine condition, Part 2

by | Dec 17, 2021 | Resources | 0 comments

If you want your solar panels to continue to work perfectly and safely—and get the maximum possible savings on power—you need to look after your system.

As we explained in Part 1 of this series, a lack of regular, skilled maintenance:

  • Can seriously affect the performance of your solar panels, reducing energy captured
  • Can lead to damage resulting in downtime and hundreds of dollars in lost savings
  • Can pose safety hazards including an increased risk of house fires.

Cleanliness is a key factor in how well your solar power system works. Regular maintenance that includes cleaning is essential to ensure your solar power system keeps operating as intended.

You need clean, clear and undamaged solar panels

It seems obvious, but it deserves to be stated plainly: anything that blocks sunlight will reduce the effectiveness of your solar power system.

Dirt, dust, sap, pollen, animal droppings and other debris that drops or is blown onto your panels can limit your system’s capacity to convert sunlight into power. Over time, even small reductions in your panels’ efficiency can lead to a noticeable decline in power savings.

Cleanliness also impacts the functionality of the entire solar system: excessive dirt, debris and animal droppings can damage the panels, wiring and electronics.

How do you know when your solar panels are too dirty

While you’ll probably notice if your panels are covered in leaves and branches—you might not be as aware of the gradual accumulation of dust and grime. Yet dust and other surface deposits can significantly hamper your panels’ performance.

Depending on dust levels where you live or run your business, energy lost from the accumulation of dust on solar panels can range between 7-50% according to research by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).  

If you’re located in a particularly dry, dusty and windy area where your solar panels won’t be regularly cleared by rainfall, regular cleaning is especially important. The angle of your panels’ installation can also affect how well they are cleared by rainfall: flat panels don’t drain as well and require more effort to keep clean. 

Sap and bird droppings can pose a challenge because they can become hard, baked-on blights that won’t easily budge from a rain shower or a swipe of the garden hose. 

What does cleaning solar panels actually involve?

Theoretically, you can simply give solar panels a hose-off with water as you notice dirt accumulating. However, in reality there are a number of things to consider in order to safely clean panels and avoid damaging your panels in the process.

Factors to consider before cleaning your panels:

  • Using the wrong equipment or technique can cause damage: You don’t want to scratch your solar panels in any way so using water free of contaminants, non-abrasive sponges, and suitably mild washing liquids is necessary. High pressure hoses can cause damage and care must be taken when using cloths or sponges to remove stubborn marks. Additionally, pay attention to the temperature of both the panels and the water you use—cold water on hot solar panels can result in thermal shock that causes cracking and strain that deteriorates the condition of your solar power system.
  • Damage done during cleaning can void your warranty: Be sure to check and follow your system manufacturer’s recommendations or you may void your warranty.
  • Working on panels can be dangerous work: If you don’t have the experience, skills or equipment to work at heights—climbing ladders and trying to thoroughly clean your panels while balancing on your roof is a recipe for disaster. Also, don’t forget there’s electronics involved! Damaged panels pose a shock hazard when you add water so you need to be certain panels are safe beforehand.  

Is it worth paying a professional to clean your solar panels?

While this blog is focused on the importance and value of cleaning to keep your solar system in tip-top shape—it’s just one aspect of maintenance/servicing. When it comes to weighing up the costs of cleaning, it makes more sense to consider the full costs and benefits of a comprehensive maintenance program.

When you have a solar maintenance plan in place (and an expert you can turn to for reliable advice), it’s easier to identify needs and access professional cleaning as part of an annual service.

Professional, qualified solar specialists will help you to maintain, monitor, clean and repair your system in a safe and systematic way. For example, our maintenance plans are based on a framework developed by the Clean Energy Council of Australia and we know and adhere to all Australian safety and quality guidelines.

When Spinifex Energy completes a maintenance visit at your property we conduct a wide range of activities including:

  • A physical inspection of the cleanliness and condition of your panels, and whether their fittings are still securely attached to the roof (We have Working at Heights certification).
  • Assessing all parts of your panels, switches, wiring and inverter to ensure they have not deteriorated or been affected by vermin.
  • A check of all safety features of the system, online monitoring connectivity and energy meter monitoring (we can provide thermographic reports of your panels to more deeply understand how they’re performing).
  • Provide honest advice and professional service delivery to undertake required cleaning, repairs or any system re-configuration required to optimise your system’s operation.

Spinifex Energy’s plans make maintaining your solar system affordable, and importantly, we actually GUARANTEE the solar generation for the term of our plans. Keep your solar system sparkling clean and make long-term savings with a regular, annual maintenance check.

Contact Tom on 0419 108 638 or request a free quote online.

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