How Often Should Solar Panels Be Cleaned?

Solar panels have emerged as a sustainable and cost-effective solution for businesses in Scotland to harnessing clean energy from the sun.

While their maintenance requirements are generally low, regular cleaning is essential to ensure optimal efficiency and maximum energy generation. So, how often should solar panels be cleaned?

The Impact of Dirt and Debris

Solar panels work by converting daylight into electricity, and any obstructions that hinder the sun’s rays can affect their performance. Over time, dirt, dust, pollen, bird droppings, leaves, and other debris can accumulate on the surface of the solar panels, reducing their ability to capture sunlight efficiently. This build up can result in decreased energy output and longer payback periods for your businesses solar investment.

Frequency of Cleaning

The frequency of solar panel cleaning depends on several factors including:

Geographic Location

Areas of Scotland with high levels of pollution, dust, or pollen may require more frequent cleaning. If your business is based in an industrial estate like Hillington Industrial Estate, you may need to clean your panels more often compared to quieter business parks that have less dust and pollution in the air but do often have more greenery to deal with.

Rainfall Frequency

Rainfall can help clean solar panels to some extent and as we are based in Scotland, this does do a lot of the work for us. However, during dry summer months in areas with infrequent rainfall, a build up of dust, grime, pollution and pigeon fouling may require manual cleaning more often.

Tilt and Orientation

Solar panels installed at steep angles or facing south on a business premises might be more self-cleaning due to rainwater runoff. Panels installed flat or at shallow angles are more prone to debris accumulation and might need more regular cleaning.

Surrounding Environment

Trees, birds, and nearby construction can contribute to the amount of debris that accumulates on your solar panels. As we have mentioned, if your business is located in an Industrial Estate, the surrounding area will contribute to a heavier build up than an area in the countryside. If your business is located in an area with a lot of trees or construction activity, you might need to clean your panels more often.

Seasonal Changes

Seasonal changes can impact the amount of debris on your panels. Fall leaves, for instance, might require more frequent cleaning during autumn.

Maintenance Practices

When it comes to cleaning your solar panels, there are a few practices to keep in mind:

Regular Inspection

Regularly inspect your panels for dirt, debris, and signs of bird droppings or other blockages. Promptly addressing any accumulation can prevent energy loss. By monitoring your power generation from solar panels, any drop off in efficiency can be investigated as a sign of needing cleaned.

Safe Cleaning Techniques

If you choose to clean your panels yourself, use soft brushes, non-abrasive sponges, or squeegees with gentle pressure. Avoid using harsh chemicals, abrasive materials, or high-pressure water, as these can damage the panels.

Time of Day

Plan your cleaning sessions during the early morning or late afternoon when the panels are cooler and the sun is not directly overhead. Cleaning hot panels can lead to thermal stress and potential cracking.

Safety First

If your solar panels are installed on the roof of your business address, prioritise safety. Use proper safety gear, or consider hiring professionals who have experience and safety measures in place.

While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to how often solar panels should be cleaned, a general rule of thumb is to clean them at least once or twice a year. However, it’s crucial to adapt your cleaning frequency to your specific location, environment, and individual circumstances. Regular maintenance not only ensures maximum energy production but also prolongs the lifespan of your solar panels, allowing your business to reap the benefits of clean energy for years to come.