Importance of Cleaning Your Solar Panels Regularly

Lenard Nagy
Mar 8, 2023

Solar energy has become a game-changer in the renewable energy sector, especially in places like Ireland where initiatives towards sustainable living are encouraged. With the rise in solar panel installations, the aspect of maintenance, particularly cleaning, becomes crucial.

In this extensive guide, delve into the compelling reasons why cleaning your solar panels regularly with a professional cleaning company like Perfect Clean shouldn't be overlooked.

Anatomy of a Solar Panel

Before diving into the essence of cleaning, understanding the structure and working mechanism of a solar panel is essential.

What Makes Up a Solar Panel?

Solar panels are made up of photovoltaic (PV) cells. These cells are responsible for capturing sunlight and converting it into electricity. A typical panel is composed of multiple cells, layered between a top glass casing and a backing layer, often composed of another material.

How Do Solar Panels Work?

When sunlight hits a solar panel, the PV cells generate direct current (DC) electricity. This DC is then converted into alternating current (AC) by an inverter, which can be used to power homes and businesses. The efficiency of this conversion process depends on the amount of sunlight received by the PV cells. Any obstruction, like dirt or grime, can hamper this.

Why Cleaning Matters: Impact on Efficiency

Solar panels, like any other outdoor equipment, are exposed to the elements. Over time, they accumulate dust, pollen, bird droppings, and other debris.

Dirt and Dust Accumulation

Ireland, while known for its beautiful green landscapes, isn't immune to dust. Dust particles, though tiny, can cast a shadow over the solar cells. If a layer of dust covers the panels, the amount of sunlight reaching the cells is reduced, leading to decreased energy production.

Bird Droppings and Other Larger Debris

Bird droppings can be more problematic than dust. They don't just block sunlight; their sticky nature makes them harder to wash away with just rain. A significant amount of droppings can cause localized hotspotting, where certain parts of a panel overheat, leading to reduced panel life.

Moss and Algae Growth

In areas with higher humidity and rainfall, like parts of Ireland, moss and algae growth on solar panels can be a concern. These can cause shading issues, decreasing the panel's efficiency and also potentially damaging the panels if not dealt with.

Financial Impact of Dirty Solar Panels

Aside from the technical aspects, there's also a tangible financial side to consider.

Decreased Energy Production

Even a small reduction in efficiency, say 5%, can have considerable financial implications over time. If a solar panel system is expected to save €1000 annually, a 5% drop means losing out on €50 in that year. Over the system's 25-year lifespan, that's €1250 lost to inefficiency.

Potential Repair or Replacement Costs

Neglecting the cleanliness of solar panels can lead to damages. Repairs can be costly, and in worst-case scenarios, replacement of parts or the entire system might be needed. Regular cleaning is a preventative measure that can save thousands of euros in the long run.

Cleaning Techniques and Best Practices

Cleaning solar panels isn't just about splashing water. Depending on the type of debris and where you're located in Ireland, different techniques might be more suitable.

Safety First

Always prioritize safety. If your panels are on the roof, consider hiring professionals, especially if you're unsure about the safety procedures. Many companies, especially in Dublin, offer specialized solar panel cleaning services.

Basic Cleaning

In many cases, a simple rinse with a garden hose might be sufficient. Doing this early in the morning or in the evening can be effective. Avoid using hard water as it can leave deposits.

Dealing with Stubborn Debris

For bird droppings or thick layers of dust, you might need to scrub gently using a soft brush. Always use lukewarm water mixed with mild detergent. Ensure no abrasive components are in your cleaning mix as they can scratch the panels.

Routine Inspection

While cleaning, it's a good opportunity to inspect the panels for any damages. Look for cracks, discolouration, or any signs of hotspotting.

When and How Often to Clean?

Frequency of cleaning depends on several factors:

Local Climate

In drier parts of Ireland, where there's more dust, cleaning might be needed more frequently. In contrast, in areas prone to moss and algae, regular checks are essential to prevent growth.

Angle of Installation

Solar panels installed at steeper angles are less likely to accumulate debris as rain can naturally wash away most of it.

Nearby Trees and Birds

If you've trees nearby or if your location attracts a lot of birds, you might need to clean more often due to falling leaves or bird droppings.

Considering these factors, a general guideline for places in Ireland would be to check the panels every 6 months and clean as necessary.

In Conclusion

Solar panels represent an investment – not just financially but also in a sustainable future. To get the best out of this investment, regular cleaning and maintenance are paramount. It ensures peak efficiency, longevity of the system, and avoids potential financial losses. As the adage goes, "A stitch in time saves nine." The same principle applies to solar panel maintenance. Remember, the cleaner the panels, the brighter our future!

For those in Dublin seeking professional help, you might consider cleaning services dublin for top-notch solar panel maintenance.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use any detergent to clean my solar panels?

While it's safe to use a mild detergent, ensure that it doesn't have abrasive components. Abrasives can cause scratches and damages to the panels.

How often should I inspect my solar panels?

It's recommended to inspect solar panels at least twice a year. This allows you to spot any issues early and ensures that the system works efficiently.

Does rain clean solar panels effectively?

While rain can wash away some of the loose debris, it's not enough to remove stubborn dirt, bird droppings, or moss. Hence, manual cleaning is essential.

Can I use high-pressure water to clean my panels?

It's advisable not to use high-pressure water as it can damage the panels or the seals around them. Gentle cleaning is the best approach.

Is there a best time of day to clean solar panels?

Yes, it's recommended to clean solar panels either early in the morning or in the evening. This ensures that the panels are not too hot, preventing potential thermal shocks.

Are there services in Dublin that specialize in solar panel cleaning?

Absolutely! Dublin boasts several professional services that specialize in solar panel maintenance. You can easily find them with a quick search or by following this link: cleaning services dublin.

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*FYI, parts of this blog post were drafted by artificial technlogy. But rest assured, it's been thoroughly researched, edited, reviewed and me & my team.
Author Fahad Zahid
Founder @ Going Solar

Joe Brennan, the founder of Going Solar, is dedicated to making solar power mainstream in Ireland and meet SEAI objectives. With a focus on affordability and sustainability, he is bringing renewable energy solutions to homes, reducing costs & environmental impact.