Energy Products

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Cleaning solar panels?

Just got my new solar panels turned on.

What cleaning products do you use to clean the panels? Dish soap? Microfiber cleaning cloth? Squeegee?

I'm in a dusty high desert location. How often is cleaning recommended?

Thanks.

Comments

  • edited November 2019
    It turns out that the financial gain of cleaning the panels is not worth the effort. The rain cleans the panels well enough and the dust accumulation during 6 moths of drought is not substantial...
    https://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/pressrelease/cleaning_solar_panels_often_not_worth_the_cost_engineers_at_uc_san_diego_fi
  • I'd be cleaning them myself. The water is free (effectively) since the HOA pays for water. I have plenty of free time since I'm retired. So my cost to clean them is very close to zero. Any experience or information what tools and cleaning products to use or not use?

    Thanks.
  • edited November 2019
    We installed our 13.2 kWh solar system 7 years ago and generally only have them cleaned once a year (water and wiped with non abrasive cloth only, no chemicals) after pollen season has abated (April-May). We did not clean this year because we had a heavy rainfall spring, which cleaned them nicely.
  • edited November -1
    If rain cleans the panels, great.
    Otherwise, hose off first with water only to remove any abrasive particles.
    I found window washing supplies at big box hardware stores with extendable handles, soft mop heads, and various sizes of squeegee heads. Do not allow plastic or metal parts to drag on the panels. Keep them scratch free.
  • edited November 2019
    I clean mine about twice a year. Initially I used car washing soapy water with a mop head and squeegee. Now I just use water and mop, no squeegee.
  • edited November 2019
    My installer recommended Simple Green and a soft brush on a wand. He said it works well and doesn't hurt the roof. Apparently some soaps/detergents can leave residues that mess with the inherent moss control in new roofing products.
  • edited November 2019
    I’ve had my panels for about 4 years. I was told not to bother cleaning them, the rain takes care of it. I’m in No. Cal and the only time I have seen decreased production is during our fires from the ash. A hose takes care of it.
  • edited November 2019
    My husband used to clean them with a glass cleaner that attached to a house and he also used a microfiber glass cleaner. We finally hired a guy to clean them. He said our panels were very clean. If I had to clean them, I would used Optimum no rinse with a microfiber cloth.
  • edited November -1
    As far as frequency goes, I would just inspect them and clean them as needed. In a dusty environment, I would think that would be at least once every other month. The efficiency improves after we clean ours.
  • edited November 2019
    From the TESLA Support Site:
    Solar panels can accumulate dust, pollen, leaves and bird droppings, which can limit sunlight absorption. Rain will help rinse panels clean, but we recommend additional methods for the drier summer to fall months of the year, which also tend to be the sunniest. Cleaning your solar panels ensures you maximize your energy production and savings, and also contributes to Tesla's mission to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy.
    Also recommended to perform this during overcast or prior to full sun to avoid damaging the glass with a cold water spray on a hot surface. And using anything abrasive is NOT recommended as it can cause micro scratches in the surface and refract your photons from the silicon matrix within the solar cell.

    https://www.tesla.com/support/energy/solar-panels/own/maintenance
  • edited April 2020
    I am using a hose and a bucket of soapy water.
  • edited April 2020
    I'll add to the Tesla recommendations: NEVER spray directly onto the panels with a pressure washer! The high-pressure water can penetrate the seals, and allow water to infiltrate the silicon substrate, which can destroy the panel. I do use a pressure washer, but not directly. I use it to reach the stream up to the second floor roof, to rinse my array, a couple of times a year.
  • edited November -1
    Soft bristled, wide broom, long handle (19 foot extension) and plain old hose works best based on 12 years of experience. Clean in the morning while the panels are wet from the morning dew and before there is substantial sunlight/heat. Clean quarterly since I am in a semi-rural area with a lot of agricultural dust (grapes). The gain after each cleaning is generally 3-5%.
  • As far as frequency goes, I would just inspect them and clean them as needed. In a dusty environment, I would think that would be at least once every other month. https://sites.google.com/view/subwaysurferspc The efficiency improves after we clean ours.
  • edited April 2020
    This "erneststephens21" user, above, is a bot. It takes quotes from previous posts and inserts a scam link in the middle of it. I saw one of my posts directly copied by it on another thread.
  • edited April 2020
    Mine were installed last August (Seattle area), and I cleaned them the first time last week to get a layer of pollen off. Used a hose-end brush with a 6' extension, a light spray of Windex, and got the lower row and half the upper row. I see NO change in output, so the thin layer of pollen wasn't affecting them measurably.

    Tree pollen is now being supplanted by flower pollen, which is coming in thicker. We';; see how the rain does in washing it off this week...
  • edited April 2020
    Even if it doesn't cost anything in water or labor because you're doing it yourself and have "free" water, if you're getting up on a ladder, there's a non-zero risk of injury that you should take into account also.
  • edited April 2020
    Yup. I remember actually jumping off the roof onto a lawn, just for $hits and giggles, when I was 12. If I did that now, I'd probably end up in the ICU.
  • Results from this week due to ash fall in the SFBay area.
    I clean my panels regularly and as above - get single digit improvements in production.
    Cleaned them this morning (16 Sept, 2020) after several weeks of smoke and ash accumulation.

    Peak production (as max kW) increased 25% from yesterday.
    Totals production (as kWHrs) increased 26% from yesterday.

    Same weather pattern for both days. Cleaning method as described above - plain water and a soft bristled broom/brush.
  • > @smaches_98513676 said:
    > From the TESLA Support Site:
    > Solar panels can accumulate dust, pollen, leaves and bird droppings, which can limit sunlight absorption. Rain will help rinse panels clean, but we recommend additional methods for the drier summer to fall months of the year, which also tend to be the sunniest. Cleaning your solar panels ensures you maximize your energy production and savings, and also contributes to Tesla's mission to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy.
    > Also recommended to perform this during overcast or prior to full sun to avoid damaging the glass with a cold water spray on a hot surface. And using anything abrasive is NOT recommended as it can cause micro scratches in the surface and refract your photons from the silicon matrix within the solar cell.
    >
    > https://www.tesla.com/support/energy/solar-panels/own/maintenance
  • I’m very concerned about the accumulation of pine needles underneath the solar panels. It can’t be good for the metal roof nor the hardware for the array. Are there Tesla safe recommended companies in the N. Central Fla., area that can clean them & address the pine needle accumulation?
  • Late last year I cleaned my panels using a microfiber sponge mop. The panels looked OK from the ground. But when I wiped them with the wet (water only) mop it came back black. I had to rinse the microfiber head and gently wipe the panels several times to get them clean.

    The most likely source of the black residue is from the tires of vehicles using the road in front of my house.
  • Bump
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