The Ultimate Guide and Benefits of Hiring a Professional Solar Panel Cleaner

solar panel cleaner

Solar panels have become popular for renewable energy generation, providing clean and sustainable electricity for homes and businesses. However, regular maintenance and cleaning are essential to ensure these solar panels operate at their maximum efficiency. Dirty solar panels can significantly reduce power output, and understanding the need for solar panel cleaning is crucial for maximising the benefits of your solar energy system.

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Factors influencing solar panel efficiency

Various environmental factors can influence the efficiency of solar panels, leading to a reduction in power output. Some of the key factors include:

Accumulation of dirt and debris: Dust, dirt, pollen, bird droppings, and other airborne pollutants can settle on the surface of solar panels. Over time, this accumulation can block sunlight and reduce the panel’s energy conversion rate.

Seasonal challenges: Different seasons present various challenges for solar panel cleaning. Snow in winter, fallen leaves in autumn, and pollen in spring can all hinder solar panel efficiency. Each season may require a different approach to cleaning.

Bird droppings: Although a single bird dropping may not have a significant impact, the accumulation of bird droppings over time can substantially reduce solar panel output.

Dirt accumulation around the frame: Rainfall may only sometimes clean dirt accumulated around the aluminium frame of solar panels. This can lead to energy losses and even hotspots.

Debris: If your location is prone to debris from nearby trees or high winds, larger particles can become lodged between the panels, causing shading and impacting energy production.

Fungi, lichen, or mould: These growths can affect roofing materials, but they can develop on solar panels over time, reducing efficiency.

Particulate exhaust or dust: In industrial areas, nearby factories may release byproducts that adhere to solar panels and are difficult to clean.

solar panel cleaning

How often should you clean your solar panels?

The frequency of cleaning residential solar panels depends on various factors, including location, weather conditions, and the surrounding environment. Generally, cleaning solar panels once every couple of years is recommended to maintain optimal performance. However, more frequent cleaning may be necessary in areas with heavy soiling. Read more about Solar Panels Maintenance.

Signs that indicate it's time to clean your solar panels

Visual inspection: If you notice anything obstructing sunlight from reaching the panels or if the panels appear discoloured, it’s time for a cleaning.

Reduced performance: If you monitor your system and notice it’s not performing as expected, it might be time to call a cleaning professional.

Insect or pest activity: An increased presence of insects or pests around your solar panels may signal the need for cleaning to prevent damage and attractant avoidance measures.

Panels installed flat or low tilt: Panels with minimal tilt lose the self-cleaning benefits of heavy rainfall and may require more frequent cleaning.

The costs of solar panel cleaning

The cost of solar panel cleaning can vary depending on system size, complexity, and the need for professional assistance. An average Australian home has 20 to 25 solar panels. Cleaning a 20 to 25-panel system typically costs between $240 and $600. These costs may vary in regions and depend on accessibility and local labour rates. Read more about How Much Does Solar Panel Cleaning Cost? Factors to Consider.

Should you hire a professional solar panel cleaner?

Hiring a professional solar panel cleaner offers several advantages:

Expertise: Professional cleaners have the knowledge and experience to clean panels properly, using the right cleaning agents and techniques to maximise efficiency while avoiding damage.

Safety: Solar panels are often installed on rooftops, which can be hazardous. Professionals are trained to handle these situations and have the necessary safety equipment.

Time-saving: Cleaning solar panels can be time-consuming, but hiring a professional allows you to focus on other tasks while your panels are cleaned efficiently.

Longevity: Proper maintenance extends the lifespan of solar panels, and professionals can help maintain them to prevent damage and ensure they last as long as possible.

Preventative maintenance: Professionals can identify potential issues before they become costly problems, ensuring your system operates at peak performance.

Insurance compliance: If your solar panels are insured, professional cleaning may be a requirement to maintain your warranty and protect your investment

Is solar panel cleaning worth it?

The decision to clean your solar panels should be based on the level of soiling and the potential impact on energy production. Studies have shown that typical dust and dirt can cause output reductions of 3% to 5%, which may not justify the cost of cleaning. However, heavily soiled panels can experience up to 60% performance reductions, making cleaning a more cost-effective option. The choice to clean your panels should depend on your situation and goals.

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Cleaning vs. servicing a solar panel system

Cleaning your solar panels is focused on removing surface dirt and debris. In contrast, servicing a solar system involves in-depth electrical testing and a thorough visual inspection to ensure the equipment and cabling are operating correctly. Here are some key distinctions:

Cleaning: This involves removing surface dirt and debris to optimise energy production. Homeowners can often do this.

Servicing: Requires professional expertise to conduct electrical testing and a detailed inspection of the entire solar system to ensure safe and efficient operation.

Who should service your solar system?

A licensed A-grade electrician should perform a solar system service, preferably accredited by the Clean Energy Council. They have the necessary knowledge and skills to identify and rectify any issues. Calling a professional is essential if you notice physical damage to the system or require a comprehensive service.

When engaging an electrician for a solar service, consider the following:

  • Ensure they provide a detailed report of the checks carried out and any findings.
  • Check your warranty, as some warranties may require servicing by the original installer to remain valid.

Other system checks

Apart from cleaning and servicing, there are additional system checks to consider:

Anti-islanding check: This test ensures that the inverter connects and disconnects from the electricity grid safely, preventing the system from feeding electricity into the grid during a blackout. Some electricity distributors may require an annual anti-islanding test.

Regular inverter check: Your inverter should be regularly inspected to ensure it’s operating correctly and that the ventilation grills are clean. Homeowners can perform basic maintenance by keeping the inverter free of dirt, dust, and debris.

Understanding the need for solar panel cleaning is essential to maintain the efficiency and longevity of your solar energy system. While professional cleaning is recommended for the best results, homeowners can also take some steps to ensure their solar panels remain clean and in optimal working condition. Regular maintenance and servicing are key to enjoying the full benefits of solar energy, both in terms of energy savings and system longevity. By investing in the care of your solar panels, you can maximise your renewable energy production and contribute to a more sustainable future.

Still can’t afford to switch to solar power?

Are you considering getting solar panels but are currently short on funds? You can still invest wisely, and Energy Matters can help you. 

Powow and Energy Matters have teamed up to provide consumers with an alternative to switching to solar power and battery storage. 

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