It’s now a proven fact that solar panels need cleaning. There are a few companies out there offering this service. You may even be tempted to clean them yourself. Who should clean your solar panels? A professional solar panel cleaning company or your regular window cleaner? Is it a DIY job? Before you decide, check out our top 5 tips below.
1. Make Sure Your Solar Panel Cleaner Does Not Invalidate Your Warranty
Warranties given on your solar array from the manufacturer are very valuable and you would not want this warranty to be nullified by a cleaner trying to remove stubborn dirt by power washing or spraying a corrosive chemical or detergent on your solar panels. Both of these methods of cleaning will likely invalidate you’re the solar panel cleaning clause in your warranty. A professional solar panel cleaning company will likely be more knowledgeable when it comes to cleaning your solar panels whilst maintaining your warranty.
The following link shows what some manufacturers say about solar panel cleaning and their warranty: Solar panel manufacturers do not recommend using chemicals of any kind when cleaning solar panels. Even water with a high mineral content, such as well water or your mains tap water, can leave mineral deposits behind on the glass and impede your solar panel power output.
2. Solar Panels Must Be Cleaned With Ultra-Pure Water
Having proved that no chemicals are to be used when cleaning the solar panels, it is important to note that cleaning with mains tap water will also likely invalidate your solar equipment warranty. Tap water contains minerals which will leave white, chalky deposits on your solar panels. This is to be avoided because they will block out needed sunlight if they are allowed to accumulate with repeated mains water cleaning. This alone likely rules out DIY cleaning.
3. Health & Safety
We could fill an article all of it’s own when discussing the health and safety issues surrounding solar panel cleaning. Appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) MUST be worn at all times whilst cleaning solar panels. Electrocution is a serious and inherent risk when cleaning solar panels. So great caution must be exercised and a good knowledge of what PPE is needed should be a strong consideration. This again likely rules out DIY cleaning and it is likely that a professional solar panel cleaner who has detailed knowledge about the equipment they are working on, will be best equipped to carry out the cleaning.
4. Training & Insurance.
Would you allow a plumber to come and work in your house without training, qualifications or insurance? Would you let your gardener try some maintenance on your new car? If he came to you and said “Well, I already have my tools out, so I think I can do that for you”, would you be naïve enough to let him try? Likely not. So you are wise to consider the risk of allowing an untrained, unqualified and uninsured person to your property to clean your solar panels. They likely cost you as much as your car, so deserve the same care and respect. If an accident were to occur during the solar panel cleaning process, who would be liable? Would you be able to make an insurance claim against the individual or company? Could you even be liable for inadvertently allowing an accident to occur on your property?
If you have reviewed the linked article in first tip above, you will have noticed that solar panel manufacturers do not recommend pressure washing your solar panels. The linked video, which we emphasise is not Clean Solar Solutions Ireland, highlights the most dangerous way of solar panel cleaning we have found!
The risk associated with solar panel cleaning is another reason that many people choose to use a professional, specialist solar panel cleaning company. This is especially true if you own a large solar array. Larger solar arrays naturally carry a larger risk.
5. Track Record and Cutting-Edge Expertise
Continuing our illustration of your car, it is likely that you choose to take your vehicle to be serviced by a well-respected company, with good track record in that industry. You may even choose to go to a Main Dealer for servicing, knowing they have particularly detailed knowledge of your type of vehicle. So when choosing a solar panel cleaning company, you would do well to choose a company with experience, a good track record and specialist knowledge.
A local window cleaner may have experience in the cleaning industry, but they may have little or no experience or knowledge of cleaning solar panels. Would it not be better choosing a company that are specialists in solar panel cleaning and all solar Operations & Maintenance (O&M) services. Would you feel safer if you had experts looking after your large investment in Solar energy?
Is your window cleaner going to notice any issues with your solar array e.g. unprotected wiring, cables loose and lying on the roof etc? Could they give you any advice on any issues you are having with your array or how to deal with lichen or bird problems?
6. The best time to clean your Solar Panels
The best time to clean solar panels is in Spring.
From our experience in Ireland and the UK, the best time to clean your solar panels is between April and June. This means that as we head into the days with the longer daylight hours, your solar panels will be clean and will produce the maximum amount of electricity because of the longer days. For many solar array owners, it will take 9/10 years to see a return on their investment. This does not mean though that solar panels cannot be cleaned all year round. A loss of 10% in generation over a year means it can take a whole year extra to get back the return on investment. This loss could be caused bird droppings, dust from local environment or Construction or Agricultural work being carried out in your area etc.
A clean in November that brings a 20% increase in generation, still represents great value for money. Why, is explained in point next.
Solar panels are worth cleaning in preparation for the colder shorter days of Winter.
During summer, the climatic conditions are generally drier and dustier, however this is more so true on large scale solar farms and solar panels located in the countryside. After harvest time, there is very often a thick layer of dust lying on solar panels from the dust thrown up during the harvesting period. This reduces output dramatically. We have independently confirmed solar output data from some projects we carried out in the UK to prove that dust after harvest can cause up to a 43% loss in generation. This with the shorter days of Autumn and Winter and your Solar Panel output will plummet. As we have stated earlier, Spring is the best time to clean your solar panels, however solar panels are more efficient on colder sunny days versus hotter sunny days. As a result of this you will lose some output due to the shorter daylight hours, so it is important to have clean solar panels in winter so that you can produce electricity more efficiently due to the colder days.
7. Solar Panel Cleaning Specific Training,
There is soon to be new legislation released by the EU to regulate the Solar Panel Cleaning Industry as this industry is currently completely unregulated. It had been identified by Health and Safety authorities and the industry itself that the risks involved in the day to day duties of workers in this industry needed to be protected.
Before choosing your Solar Panel Cleaning Provider, ensure that you are happy that they aware that there will soon be new regulations for the industry. Professional Solar Panel Cleaning Company will be up to date on all Health & Safety issues and any new guidelines that are planned and will have already implemented these changes into their operating procedures.
These are our top 7 tips to consider before you chose a Solar Panel Cleaning Provider. If you have any queries about this article or you are looking for some other information, we will try and help, otherwise, If you are just interested in a free quote for solar panel cleaning on your property, you can get in touch with us by using the contact us page within the website.