Category - Solar
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Will Scholfield, Engineer

8 Sep : Updated 8 Apr ● 6 min read

How to clean your solar panels

Solar panels are becoming an increasingly popular way to generate energy for UK homes, especially in recent years with the cost of living and energy bills continuing to rise.

Once you've got a solar panel system installed in your home, it's good practice to have them cleaned fairly regularly. In this guide, we're going to tell you all about cleaning solar panels, answering questions like why, how and when, alongside a few tips.

If you're looking into solar energy, and want to see what it can do for your home, use our simple online process to find a solar panel and battery storage solution to suit your home.

Why is it important to clean your solar panels?

Whilst solar panels are largely self-cleaning with the help of natural elements like wind and rain that can move dust and dirt from the surface, they still need tending to from time to time to optimise their performance.

It may not seem particularly necessary, but cleaning solar panels is essential to maintain performance and energy production. Over time, dust, dirt and other debris can build up on the panels, meaning their access to direct sunlight can be blocked, which will reduce their efficiency.

Put simply, dirty solar panels won’t perform as well as clean ones.

Cleaning solar panels regularly helps extend their lifespan and ensures warranty compliance if you need your appliance to be replaced further down the line.

It's a no-brainer: by keeping the panels clean, you can enhance their energy output, prevent damage, maintain your investment in solar energy and reduce your home's reliance on non-renewable energy.

Our 10-step guide to solar panel cleaning

The tools and materials you'll need to clean solar panels

Before you get started, you'll need to get prepared with the right equipment. 

Don't worry about breaking the bank over this. In most cases, you're looking at anywhere between £5-£30 to cover your solar panel cleaning costs, depending on what you already have available in your home.

  • Water: Distilled or filtered water is preferred for solar panel cleaning, given the fact that hard water can leave streaks on the panels and even damage them over time.
  • Mild detergent: You don't need anything too industrial to clean solar panels, any abrasive cleaning substances can damage the panels. A biodegradable soap can work well.
  • A sponge/brush: You'll need something with soft bristles for the surface of the panels, avoid using an abrasive sponge to avoid scratching.
  • A bucket: To hold your cleaning solution.
  • Drying materials: A squeegee or a simple microfibre cloth will work just fine to dry the panels, removing any excess water and giving you a satisfying finish.
  • Ladder: Depending on where your panels are placed, it's likely you'll struggle to reach them without some sort of help. If your solar panels are on the ground floor, you might get by with just an extension pole.
  • Safety equipment: Working with chemicals and at potential heights, there are some precautions you should take. At a bare minimum, we'd recommend gloves and goggles to protect from chemicals, if you're working at height, ensure you're wearing some sturdy, hard-wearing footwear, and head protection.

Step 1 -  Equip your safety gear

Whenever you're tackling tasks that are unfamiliar to you, safety should always come first. Make sure you have your gloves, goggles and footwear on, and that if you're working with roof-mounted panels, your ladder is secured to the ground.

Step 2 - Study your solar panels

When you first had your panels installed, you should've been given some manufacturer's notes. In this pamphlet, you will be able to read about any precautions or requirements for cleaning your solar panels.

If you've misplaced your pamphlet, it's okay, you can often find this info online if you look at the manufacturers' website.

Step 3 -  Choose your time carefully

This is especially important for people cleaning their panels in the summertime or intense weather conditions. It's best to wash your panels in mild conditions, for example, early morning or late evening.

Intense, direct sunlight can cause your panels to dry quickly, leading to streaks and causing an unsightly finish to your hard work. From a safety point of view, if you're working at heights, don't pick a rainy day.

Step 4 -  Turn off the system

It may seem simple, but this is one that many people overlook. Solar panels can carry dangerous voltages, so it’s essential to turn them off to avoid any hazards with the electricity.

Step 5 -  Remove any heavier debris

Being placed outside, you can find any manner of things discarded on the surface of your panels, like loose leaves, dirt or even pigeon nests. You can use a soft brush or broom to take care of this, ensuring that you don't press too hard to avoid scratching.

Top tip: Now is probably a good time to check for any potential hazards, too, things like roof cabling or loose tiling on roofs that may need to be covered or avoided when working with water.

Step 6 -  Prepare your solution

Mix your cleaning product with filtered or distilled water in a bucket, following the instructions on your chosen solution to find out the ratios you need for your solution.

Step 7 -  Wet the solar panels

Wet the panels a decent amount with your cleaning solution, feel free to leave it on to soak for a few minutes, to allow the solution to tackle any stubborn dirt, stains or pesky bird droppings on the panels.

Step 8 -  Scrub your solar panels

Now it's time for the hard work, you're going to have to scrub all the dirt off of those panels. We'd recommend circular motions, ensuring you clean the whole panels to optimise their future performance.

Step 9 -  Rinse the solar panels

Once you feel like your panels have been thoroughly scrubbed, you need to rinse off the solution and any remaining dirt. You can use a hosepipe or another bucket of clean water for this. Remember, try and use soft, filtered water to avoid any unsightly marks and damage to your panels.

Step 10 -  Dry your solar panels

Now that your panels are cleaned and rinsed, it's important to dry off any excess water from the glass surface to ensure a satisfying finish and no complications with the excess solution being left on the panels.

From here, with your solar panels cleaned, feel free to turn them back on and continue benefiting from solar energy in your home.

Not confident in cleaning solar panels yourself?

If you don’t feel confident in tackling your solar panel cleaning alone, there are countless companies you’d be able to call upon for their services. Many standard window cleaners now also offer solar panel cleaning, so it’s worth shopping around if you’re not able to maintain the panels yourself.

Learn more about green energy with us

Here at BOXT, we're always striving to lead the market with the cleanest and greenest ways to provide energy to your home.

If you're still in the early stages of learning about the installation of solar panels and cleaner energy, you might benefit from taking a look at our guide on green ways to heat your home, too.

If you're looking at how to make your home as energy efficient as possible, check out our blog discussing the simple ways to save money on your energy bills, or get in touch with one of our experts for more advice.

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