The Periodic Table of Solar Panel Cleaning and Maintenance

The beauty of solar is that it lasts a long time and doesn’t require costly maintenance. However, if you want to make sure your array is working its best, you may want to consider some of these things.

Solar Panel Cleaning Supplies

Roof Rake (Rr):

A roof rake is a large pole with an attachment that allows individuals to pull snow off of solar panels. To avoid scratching the solar panels attach a rag to the end of it. +0

Soap (S):

Special soaps aren’t necessary to clean solar panels. In fact, dish soap works great to remove tough spots. However, it can leave a residue which may cause the solar panels to absorb less light. -1

Rags (R):

A household cleaning rag is a great non-abrasive way to clean solar panels. If willing to go on the roof, they are good for cleaning tough spots. They are also perfect for cushioning roof rakes in the winter. +0

Squeegee(Sq):

A squeegee is great for removing excess water. However, if not careful an old squeegee can scratch the glass or leave streaks. +0

Sponge (Sp):

Sponges are another non-abrasive option used to clean solar panels. However, unless attached to a pole it will require getting on the roof. +0

Telescopic Pole (Tp):

Telescopic poles allow individuals to reach high spots from the ground. +1

Water Fed Brush (Wb):

Water fed brushes attach to either a garden hose or treated water. This brush allows the individual to clean the panel while rinsing it. +2

Solar Panel Cleaning Options

Cleaning Robot (Cr):

Cleaning robots are able to purchase for personal use or individuals can hire a professional that uses one. They are great for hard to reach solar panels but they don’t always clean everything. +1

Cleaning Professional (Cp):

If solar panels are hard to reach, hiring a professional to do it can save the customer from having to get on the roof. +2

Reverse Osmosis Water(RO):

Reverse osmosis water is when all the minerals are removed from the water, allowing for a spot free wash. +2

Deionized Water (DI):

Deionized water has had all the ions removed from it. When the water doesn’t have a charge it is attracted to things that have a charge like dirt. +2

Self Cleaning (Sc):

Self Cleaning is when a solar owner allows regular rainstorms to clean their solar panels. If solar panels are in an area that has regular rainstorms, it may not be necessary to wash solar panels. +2

Typical Causes of Solar Array Inefficiency

Accumulated Debris (Ad):

Debris such as dust, pollution, and pollen collect on the surface of solar panels. If they are not cleaned once in a while, this build up can prevent the sun from reaching the components in the panel. -1

Hail (H):

Most solar panels have gone through rigorous testing. In fact, most can withstand hail the size of a ping bong ball at 70 mph. -1

Trees (T):

Trees are great for the environment, but they also block the sun from hitting solar panels; they also affect the need to clean panels. Trees that can’t be trimmed or removed make solar on residential roofs less effective. -2

Fallen Components (Fc):

Just like any other piece of technology dropping it is never good. If a solar panel falls, it is likely that micro-cracks have formed. -2

Golf Balls (Gb):

Living next to a golf course may look appealing, but the flying golf balls aren’t. If they hit the solar panels just right they could shader or at the least create micro-cracks in solar panels. -2

Pests (P):

Pests, such as birds, often form nests underneath solar panels. If this happens, it is possible that the animal will mess with the array, decreasing its efficiency. -1

Production Standards and Monitoring

Solar Panel Production Standards (Ps):

Most solar panels degrade no more than 3 percent each year. Which is why they are able to last for 25 plus years. +2

Some inverters, such as the SMA, can monitor solar production and usage, and work more efficiently with clean panels. +2

Utility Solar Metering (Um):

Although solar allows individuals to no longer rely on fossil fuels, they are still tied to the grid. Through net metering, the utility company measures how much power is being put on and taken off the grid. +0

Solar Product Warranties

Solar Panel Warranties (Sw):

Solar panel manufacture warranties are typically 25 years with an 80 percent efficiency. However, there are solar panels with higher warrantied efficiencies. +2

Homeowners Insurance (Hi):

Homeowners insurance covers the solar array if something goes wrong, either because of debris or other items that break the panels themselves, rendering any cleaning ineffective. Oftentimes,  adding solar to homeowners insurance doesn’t cost extra, but it is best to check first. +2

Solar Panel Maintenance Costs (Mc):

The cost of maintenance is up to the customer. If they have a system that they can’t reach, it will cost more to have someone come out once a year and clean the solar panels. Other than cleaning, however, solar doesn’t typically need maintenance. +1

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