Do Solar Panels Need to be Cleaned?

Rooftop solar panels will get dirty over time. Do you need to clean them to make your investment worthwhile?

Las Vegas has plenty of sunlight, but the desert dust could leave you wondering – do solar panels need to be cleaned?

Anything sitting outside in Las Vegas will get dirty over time, especially on our frequent windy days. You may wonder if this means your solar panels need to be cleaned and how to do it. Knowing the answers can help you maximize your investment if you decide to go solar.

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Yes, Solar Panels Get Dirty

Solar panels are covered by a transparent “top sheet” of glass or plastic that provides protection while allowing most sunlight to pass through to the panels themselves. In order to efficiently collect energy and to make your investment worthwhile, your panels need to be able to collect sunlight without obstructions. Unfortunately, just like a car windshield, the top layer will eventually get dirty and won’t allow as much light to pass through. Bird droppings can also form significant obstructions that can reduce the ability of your rooftop solar panels to operate.

Yes, Solar Panels Need to be Cleaned … And Here’s How

Solar panels need to be cleaned simply because they need to collect sunlight in order to operate. However, it’s vital that rooftop solar panels are cleaned in a way that is recommended by the manufacturer. Some solar companies recommend deionized water and a rotating brush and claim that soap leaves a film behind, while others have approved special cleaning fluids. In more serious cases, such as if birds have left droppings on the panels, you’ll want to have a professional solar installer clean the panels.

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How Often to Clean Solar Panels

There are many variables that impact the frequency with which solar panels need to be cleaned, but in Las Vegas, homeowners will want to clean their solar panels two or three times a year. This should remove dust that can build up over the year along with pollen, which can be heavy in the spring. They should also clean their solar panels after a dust storm or if they notice bird droppings or other debris on them. Depending on their circumstances, homeowners might want to clean even more regularly, especially if they live in new developments on the outskirts, near heavy construction, or major freeways.

The prevailing opinion had been that rainstorms were enough to adequately clean all solar panels of dust, but a 2009 Google study seemed to upend this after they realized an over 30% increase in solar panel efficiency from cleaning. However, later studies, including one in nearby Tucson, showed that dust only marginally impacted the efficiency of solar panels, with cleaning only bringing a 1% increase in efficiency. Overall, it seems that rain can clean slanted solar panels easily while flat panels require special attention, as the water will simply evaporate and leave build-up behind. Keep an eye on your utility bills, and if you begin to notice any decline in output, it could be time for a cleaning.

Every Month You Wait is Another High Electric Bill. Go Solar Today!

While regular cleaning can improve the efficiency of your solar panels, the gains are typically only a few percentage points if they are slanted panels with only a thin layer of dust. This means that if you forget to clean your solar panels or don’t have time to do so, it won’t be the end of your investment. With just some routine maintenance of your solar installation, you could eliminate your power bill for years to come. Contact Bell Solar & Electrical Systems if you’re interested in getting a solar system for your home or business.

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