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Can You Use a Pressure Washer to Clean Solar Panels?

Can You Use a Pressure Washer to Clean Solar Panels

If you’re a homeowner that has invested in having solar panels on your home, you may have the urge to take excellent care of them. Since they are a significant investment in your home, you’ll want to make sure they’re well cared for. 

Many people wonder if they need to spend time cleaning their solar panels, and the answer is that it really depends. Your solar panels are along your roof, and you likely don’t spend a lot of time cleaning your roof. There are some circumstances however, where you may want to clean your solar panels, and if you do, you should not be using a pressure washer to clean your solar panels. Using a pressure washer can damage your solar panels which can result in costly repairs.

It also depends on the weather where you live. If you live somewhere that sees a lot of rain, that usually keeps them clean, and you likely won’t have to clean them often, if ever. If you live somewhere that sees almost no rain, plenty of birds fly over, or a heavy pollinated area, it may cause extra debris that doesn’t easily come off, you may want to spend some time cleaning them. 

What Is the Best Way to Clean Solar Panels?

If you have a lot of caked-on debris or excessively dirty panels with no rain on the horizon, you can take the time to clean them. There are two options you have when it comes to cleaning your solar panels. You can either hire a professional company to clean them, or you can tackle the job yourself. 

Hiring a Professional

Most solar panel companies do offer a cleaning service for an additional fee. If you’re not comfortable getting up high and cleaning your panels, it might be better for you to invest in a company to do it for you. Some companies may offer the cleaning service during the annual maintenance, so be sure to ask your specific provider. 

Cleaning Solar Panels Yourself

If you want to take on the job yourself, you are likely already prepared with all the tools you need. Soapy water, a hose, and a ladder are likely all you’ll need to clean them. 

We recommend using an extendable scrub brush like this one by Eversprout. On the opposite end of the brush, there is a built-in squeegee to remove excess water. An extendable scrub brush will help in the hard to reach areas when cleaning your solar panels.

It would be best if you first determined whether it’s even necessary to clean them, which can be done two ways. The first way is just by visual inspection. If there’s plenty of caked-on dirt, debris, or bird droppings, you can give them a good wash. 

The other way is to check with your monitoring system. Checking on the panels’ efficiency and how well they’re performing can indicate whether or not they need to be cleaned. The system can also indicate if maintenance is required. 

When you decide to clean the panels yourself, first, you should check with your provider to see if they have specific cleaning guidelines or products that they recommend to use for the best results. 

Like you’d wash your car at home during the summertime, the best way to wash your solar panels at home is soapy water and a hose. You will want to use a soft, non-abrasive sponge so you don’t scratch or damage the panels. 

Always avoid using a pressure washer or anything high pressure because that can cause immediate damage to the panels, and replacing them is very costly. 

Opt for cleaning products like a gentle dish soap if you need something a little stronger than just water. If you use heavy detergent or chemicals, they may react with the panels negatively and cause damage. Err on the side of caution and try to stick with just water and dish soap. Plain water is definitely the preferred method nine times out of ten. 

The Outdoors
The Outdoors

If you live in a hot and dry climate, try to pick a day where it’s overcast and cool when cleaning your panels. If the sun is beaming down, the panels can get extremely hot. You can potentially burn yourself, and when cleaning, warm soapy water wiped onto a hot surface will quickly evaporate. It can leave a residue that can be difficult to get off. 

Does Cleaning Your Solar Panels Make a Difference?

In general, cleaning your solar panels won’t make much of a difference. It’s likely not worth it for you to spend your time or money on having them cleaned professionally or on your own. If you monitor how well they’re working and your electric bills, you can pinpoint when a cleaning might be necessary, but that’s not common. 

There are some circumstances where you may find that cleaning them will make a difference.

If your panels lay almost flat, around 0º to 5º, you live downwind, there’s a heavy concentration of dust in your area, there is excess pollution, frequent wildfires, or it is mild enough for moss to thrive and grow, you may find these circumstances lead to dirtier panels. 

In these cases, where bird droppings, sticky pollen build-up, and debris from smoke can start to interfere, and rain may not necessarily work to get it all off. 

Suppose you notice a significant difference in your panels’ functionality and efficiency, and your electric bill starts to increase. In that case, you may be looking at a bigger problem than just cleaning. Typically, cleaning your panels will only account for 5% efficiency, but it depends on how dirty they’ve become. 

Even if you live somewhere reasonably wet, getting up on the roof and giving your panels a visual inspection every once in a while is a great habit to get into to ensure everything looks good and is working order. Preventing maintenance issues are far less costly than reacting to a significant issue once it’s happened. 

When it comes to solar panel cleaning, a good rainfall can usually do the trick. Otherwise, you can do it yourself if absolutely necessary, or ask your provider what kind of cleaning services they offer if you don’t want to get up on the roof to take care of it. 

Ultimately it’s up to you whether or not you want to clean your panels. It’s essential to be informed that a service like this may not be necessary. If a company offers this service to you, claiming that you need it for them to function correctly, they may just be trying to upsell you.

Even if your panels’ efficiency is compromised due to build-up, it’s typically not enough to warrant the money or time spent on cleaning them, professionally or otherwise. 

Final Thoughts

Overall, it’s up to you whether you want to either spend the money to either hire a company to clean your panels or do it yourself. Living somewhere with infrequent rainfall means you may want to consider cleaning them.

Especially if there is plenty of accumulated dirt that infrequent rain can’t take care of. If you live in a climate where rain is frequent, you probably won’t need to clean them unless your home has a lot of birds flying over. 

If it feels worth it to you to clean them yourself, stick to gentle products, and remember it’s not advised to use a pressure washer on your panels, as they can immediately damage them. 

Solar panels are an excellent investment for your home, but they are costly, and you want to ensure you’re taking the best care of them for them to work correctly for their lifetime. 

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