Is It Necessary to Wash My Solar Panels?
You did all the research to find the right kind of panels. You sealed the financing. You registered your system. You got them installed. Now it’s time to lean back and enjoy the fruits of your labor, right?
Yes and no. We at Modernize believe in savvy care for your solar products. And like any good system, your solar panels need regular cleaning to keep them running in tip-top shape. Think about it like you do your car: while a good rainstorm can wash away grime and pollen, if you’re going through a particularly prolific spring with little rain, you might have so much dust buildup that you’re squinting through the windshield just to see the road!
Your panels are the exact same way—a buildup of dirt can dramatically lower their output. Panels that are extravagantly dirty can cause up to a 20 percent drop in production, meaning you’re also getting less bang for your buck.
So your next question is probably, “Okay, so how often do they need to be cleaned?” Well, the short answer is: it depends. Here are some factors that can cause your panels to need more frequent cleanings:
If your panels are tilted five degrees or less
The laws of physics govern how dirty your panels get. That is, the more steeply your panels are angled, the cleaner they’ll stay, because it will be easier for rain to wash dirt and grime away, rather than it pooling on the surface.
So if your panels tend toward the horizontal, you’ll want to keep a more vigilant watch over them and probably put in more frequent washings.
If you live in an area with little rain
Sunny areas have the benefit of more solar hours, but it comes at a price: if your area is sunny and dry, you may have to put in more elbow grease to keep your panels free of dust and grit.
Even if you live in a more temperate area, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your area’s rainfall. If it’s been awhile since you had a good storm, you may want to take out the ladder to investigate.
If your air has a lot of dust or pollen
Your panels are affected by the quality of the air around you, so if you live in an agricultural area or around a lot of construction, you may find that you’ll need to clean your solar panels a lot more often to keep them operating at peak performance.
Remember, the most reliable way to tell if your panels need cleaning is just by checking on them. You should perform regular visual inspections—or, if you’re not able to get up on that ladder all that often, you can invest in a monitoring system that will measure your system’s effectiveness and let you know when there are any problems.