When to clean your solar panels

Solar panels have come a very long way. In just a decade, the price of solar panels has decreased by about 80%. That’s a huge difference for such a short time. The increased manufacturing of solar panels has also improved in terms of efficiency and durability – quality solar panels are expected to last 20 years or more. What’s even better is they’re designed for low-maintenance. But that doesn’t mean you can just leave them for two decades without once checking for any dirt.

The main disadvantage of a solar power system is that it’s only about 20% efficient, which means that a solar panel will convert about 20% of the sun’s energy into usable electricity. Because of that, anything that hinders sunlight from the direct line of sight to the panels can reduce electrical production. Trees, other buildings, and cloud cover can throw shade on solar panels, hampering their ability to absorb and convert energy.

Dirt and grime are other major enemies of solar power systems. Even just a stain or scratch on the protective glass cover can prevent a panel from getting the most of the sun’s rays. That’s why it’s essential to regularly spot-check your solar power system and give it a good rinse now and then.

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    Common Dirt Problems

    Like any other system, regular checkups are beneficial, and because solar panels get washed off in the rain anyway, having it inspected every few years is usually enough. But you also have to consider instances of harsh weather. Heavy rainfall, snow, and even strong winds could carry debris that can potentially cover up patches of your solar panel array or even cover it completely if it was pretty strong weather.

    Again, rain can usually clean things out most of the time. Hosing down your solar panels every so often can also help, especially in places like Adelaide, where rainy days only happen about a third of the year. But proper solar panel cleaning needs to be scheduled appropriately.

    Another common problem solar power systems face is animal droppings. More specifically, those that come from birds. Generally speaking, an animal that can find its way up onto your roof like an opossum or raccoon can cause problems. But birds are the bigger culprits when they pass overhead and decide to leave a present. If you don’t do some basic solar panel cleaning, these natural fertilizers can become an issue.

    How To Clean

    Cleaning your solar power system is relatively easy; it’s not like you need to get any special equipment and climb onto your roof every week just to give it a thorough look through. Spot checks from the ground are often enough to let you know if anything is obstructing your panels. And using a garden hose to spray the panels from the ground will remove most dirt anyway.

    If you’re particular about it, you can regularly monitor your power output. And if you notice an unusual drop in output efficiency, it can indicate some dirt build-up. Installers will often provide after-sales support such as monitoring and inspection, so you can ask them more about how to spot potential issues in your power output.

    Now, if you want to get your hands dirty, you can clean the panels yourself. But it’s best to focus your efforts on just cleaning the surface and not doing a more thorough cleaning. Make sure you have the proper safety equipment as well before even considering climbing onto your roof. Water, mild detergent, and a non-abrasive sponge are enough to give the solar panel surfaces a well-deserved cleaning.

    Professional Cleaning

    For a more thorough inspection, it’s best to leave it to the professionals. When you first have your solar power system installed, it’s a good idea to ask the installer regarding monitoring, inspections, and maintenance. If they don’t offer those services themselves, they can probably provide trusted contacts or even a partner recommendation.

    There’s a cost to professional inspection and cleaning, but it’s not as bad as you think. If you live in South Australia or Victoria, you don’t have a choice in this matter because these jurisdictions require a system inspection and testing by an accredited professional every five years. This would cost you about $200 to $300, but the good news is that’s also how often it’s necessary to ensure your system is safe and efficient. Four inspections in a 20-year lifespan are just a drop in the bucket, considering the savings you’ll earn through the same number of years.

    Professional solar panel cleaning is just the same in frequency. Unless you’ve had some pretty nasty weather and need a thorough check, you won’t need a professional cleaning every year. The cost of a cleaning service depends on the number of solar panels you have installed. It’s about $15 to $35 per panel, so let’s say you have a 6.6 kW solar power system with 18 solar panels. You can expect to pay about $270 on the low-end or more than $600 on the high end. 

    Spending for maintenance may seem like quite a lot of money, but keep in mind you’re only doing this maybe once every five years. Additionally, you’re probably earning about $1,900 in power savings per year on a 6.6 kW system. So a $300 inspection and $600 cleaning once every five years versus a total savings of more than $8,000 in the same timespan is not a bad deal at all.

    About Us

    Natural Technology Systems are solar providers that have been in business for over 30 years; we are a business that South Australia trusts and provides expert, obligation-free quotes and advice. We provide customers with the most cost-effective way to slash those power bills for your home or business.

    Click here for a quick quote for your solar power needs, or contact us today at (08) 8344 7298. You can also email us for expert, obligation-free advice

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