How To Clean Solar Panels: A Guide to Keeping Your System Well-Maintained

Rain, sleet, hail, snow — Midwesterners are no strangers to the weather events that batter our homes, buildings, and trees. Or, to the maintenance that follows.

When you install solar panels on your roof or on the ground at your home, farm, or business, they will be exposed to those same elements. It’s natural to wonder what you’ll need to do to keep them well-maintained over their lifespan.

The good news: Solar panel upkeep is straightforward and simple. The fact that there are no moving parts means that unlike cars or large machinery, they require very little maintenance.

But over your solar panels’ lifespan of 30 to 35 years, taking some simple steps to clean them, monitor their performance, and have them inspected will keep them working at their highest capacity for longer, ensuring that you are receiving the maximum savings on your electric bill.

When Do Solar Panels Need to Be Cleaned?

Rain and snow will naturally wash off your solar panels. That means panels generally stay clean naturally, requiring little hands-on effort.

However, there are a few reasons you may need to clean your solar panels:

  • If you live in a climate where rain is rare, a periodic cleaning can be important to clear off collected dirt, dust, and other debris.
  • Even in the Midwest, panels can collect dust and dirt during dry weather that can block sunlight and lower their efficiency.
  • If you live near an ocean where mist could leave salt on your panels, regular cleaning helps keep them clear and working strong.

Depending on where you live, solar panel manufacturers will often recommend cleaning your solar panels one to two times per year. When your array is installed, check with your equipment’s instructions and talk with your installer for their specific recommendations on when and how to clean it.

How to Clean Solar Panels

When your solar panels do get dirty, how should you clean them? The good news is that it isn’t difficult. The top of a solar panel is constructed of a layer of glass that is simple to wash off using water with or without soap.

Here are some steps on how to clean your solar panels:

  • Shut off your solar panels before cleaning them, and avoid cleaning them in the heat of the day.
  • Rinse your panels using a garden hose or using distilled water, which is recommended by the Solar Energy Industries Association and less likely to leave spots.
  • Clean your solar panels using a soft brush, not one with abrasive bristles.
  • If your solar panels are on your roof, use a brush with a long handle to reach them safely.

Be sure to check your solar panels’ warranty before cleaning to ensure you aren’t using any cleaning materials that would nullify the warranty if they cause damage. Also, refrain from using high-temperature water on cold panels or low-temperature water on hot panels so you don’t cause damage.

How Does Severe Weather Like Hail Affect Solar Panels?

Solar panels can take a beating in the elements. But they’re often up to the challenge. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, solar panels are able to withstand most hailstorms over their lifespan, but weather events where hailstones exceed 1 3⁄4 inches in diameter can still cause harm.

In areas like the Midwest where the risk of severe hail is higher, there are steps to take to construct your solar panel array so that it uses panels that are more hail resistant and sets them at angles where they are less likely to be battered.

At 1 Source Solar, we’ll assess your risk as part of our design process and work with you to construct a solar array that is built to withstand severe weather conditions as much as possible.

If your panel appears to be damaged during a hail event, that’s when it’s time to have it inspected.

Do Solar Panels Work With Snow on Them?

Snowstorms are unavoidable in the Midwest. While snow falling and melting naturally assists with keeping your solar panels clean, large amounts of it covering your solar panels can also prevent them from generating energy.

In most snowy situations, your solar panels will take care of themselves. Since solar panels absorb heat from the sun and often sit at an angle, they are effective at keeping snow clear by naturally melting it and sliding it off. However, when large amounts of snowfall cause snow to collect on top of them, it could be time to clear it off yourself.

If your solar panels are mounted on the ground, you can clean them with a soft-bristled broom. If they are on the roof of your home or business, we recommend not attempting to clear the snow to ensure your safety. Contact a professional or wait until it melts.

When Should I Have My Solar Panels Inspected?

Most solar panels come with monitoring systems that will help you track how they are working over time. If you notice they aren’t working properly during a period of optimal weather conditions, it’s time to reach out to an expert. We recommend never attempting to fix your solar panels yourself.

It’s also ideal to schedule regular inspections every one to two years to ensure that your system is working properly.

At 1 Source Solar, we also offer ongoing system monitoring and service contracts for our customers. This will help keep your inspections up to date and provide peace of mind that if something goes wrong, we’ll be right there to fix it.

Find Full-Service Solar Energy Installation & Maintenance Services at 1 Source Solar

The helpful team at 1 Source Solar is built on years of experience in the solar industry, ensuring our installers follow best practices when constructing your solar array and that our customers know the best way to maintain them once the installation is complete.

We guarantee our workmanship through a five-year warranty that you receive in addition to the manufacturer’s warranty on the solar system components. If you experience issues, we’ll fix them at no charge. We also offer service contracts beyond five years to help you with anything that may arise.

If you have questions about how to maintain your solar system, or if you want to learn how to work with us for inspection, monitoring, and maintenance services, don’t hesitate to contact our team today.