January 20, 2024

Solar

Maximizing Solar Panel Efficiency: A Guide to Solar Panel Cleaning

Often when homeowners are considering installing solar panels, best practices for solar panel cleaning and maintenance are top of mind before committing to an installation. Undoubtedly, keeping solar panels clear of dust, residue, and animal droppings will result in higher overall electricity production by maintaining the efficiency and longevity of solar panels. However, the cost to clean solar panels can sometimes outweigh the benefits from increased electricity production. If you'd like a quote for professional solar panel cleaning for your array, look no further than Evalence!

Why Clean Solar Panels Matter

Solar panels are designed to convert sunlight into useful electrical current which can be utilized by household appliances. The amount of direct sunlight the solar panel receives directly correlates with the amount of electrical energy produced. Anything that blocks the passage of sunlight through the solar panel will have a negative effect on solar production. For example, neighbouring trees can often cast shadows around solar panel installations and reduce the effectiveness of the panels.

Dust, pollen, grime, and dirt buildup can have a similar effect to shading. These particles can block the glass on the solar panels, and reduce the overall power output of the system. This phenomenon is called soiling, and is a common form of production loss calculated during solar design. Some studies have estimated soiling losses can negatively impact solar production by 1-4% overall. To put this into perspective, a 20 panel solar system in Alberta, designed to produce approximately 10,000 kWh/year could experience a loss of 100-400kwh annually (1-4% soiling). At a price of $0.10/kWh, this equates to $10-$40/year of electricity losses.

Should I Hire a Professional to Clean My Solar Panels?

The cost to hire a professional to clean your solar panels is generally not worth the increase in solar output. Typically in Alberta, it rains frequently enough to wash contaminants from the solar panels limiting the amount of dust accumulation. This limits the extent of soiling losses in moderate Northern climates, compared to desert climates like Arizona or Nevada.

Their are some circumstances where soiling losses might be worth hiring a professional to mitigate. Exceptionally dusty locations (new construction, industrial) or heavily forested locations (pollen, tree needles, leaves), may require more regular cleaning to maintain solar production. A visual inspection of the panel debris can also be an indication of when cleaning is required.

How Much Does Solar Panel Cleaning Cost?

The cost to clean solar panels will range between $100-$350 depending on the amount of solar panels and the location where the solar panels are installed. Ground mount, garage, or single story homes cost less to clean because the solar panels are more accessible for cleaning.

Two-story homes will often require an extension ladder, safety harness, and temporary roof anchors to access for solar panel cleaning. This additional equipment increases the setup time, and cost to complete the cleaning scope of work.

How Are Solar Panels Cleaned?

Cleaning dirty solar panels should be completed with caution to avoid damaging critter guard, wiring, or solar panel glass. If you'd like to clean your panels, and it's safe to access, we recommend a simple water and dish soap solution. This will provide a squeaky clean without harsh chemicals that could damage your solar panels or roof shingles. If you can reach the solar array, a sponge can be used to gently wash the panels. Otherwise, a soft brush (or squeegee) with an extendible handle could be utilized to clean your array from the ground. This is a safe and accessible solution for most home owners!

Conclusion

Keeping your solar panels clean is a great way to ensure your system is operating at maximum efficiency! If you can safely access your panels, cleaning them a mild soap and water solution is a great opportunity to reduce soiling losses. If you can't safely access your panels, connect with a professional solar services provider like Evalence for a free solar panel cleaning quote.

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