How Often Should You Clean Solar Panels


Mar '24

Solar Panel Cleaning “How Often Should You Do It?”

Keeping your solar panels clean is crucial for maintaining peak performance and maximizing your return on investment(ROI). But with tight O&M budgets, expanding portfolios and varying environmental conditions, how often should you clean solar panels? Let’s break it down to simplify it.

The “Traditional Rule” for solar panel cleaning is to clean them at least once a year to operate at maximum efficiency, extend the lifespan of the asset and maintain the manufacturer’s warranty. This frequency ensures that your solar panels remain free from dirt, dust, bird droppings, and other debris that can hinder their performance and degrade overall system health.

Why once(or more) a year? Well, consider this:

Minimal Maintenance, Maximum Efficiency: Cleaning your solar panels annually strikes a balance between proactive maintenance and practicality. It’s often sufficient to keep your panels performing optimally without requiring excessive time or effort and increasing overall maintenance costs.

Seasonal Adjustments:

Cleaning your solar panels at least once a year allows you to address seasonal challenges. In the spring/summer, you can remove pollen and debris accumulated during the winter months. For example; while in the fall/winter, you can clear away leaves and other autumnal debris and focus your cleaning efforts during the dry season.

Proactive vs. Reactive:

By sticking to a proactive cleaning schedule, you can avoid unnecessary expenses associated with reactive or “on demand” cleanings, such as financial losses due to production losses, while waiting to be fit into busy cleaning schedules.

While annual cleaning is usually sufficient, depending on your location and environmental factors, you may need to increase your cleaning frequency accordingly. For example:

  • High-Pollution Areas: If you are in an area with heavy pollution or industrial activity, you may need to clean your solar panels more frequently to prevent buildup from affecting their performance.
  • Dusty & High Pollen Environments: Similarly, if you are located in a dusty/arid region, or areas with high pollen, soil accumulation on your solar panels may necessitate more frequent cleanings to maintain efficiency.
  • Bird Droppings and Tree Sap: If your solar panels are frequently targeted by birds or are located beneath trees that shed sap or leaves, you may need to clean them more often to prevent obstructions.

There are solar installations with associated conditions that account for less frequent cleanings also. This includes installations with minimal dust and pollen, more frequent rainfall and challenging installations that make frequent cleanings cost prohibitive. It is important to consider that less frequent does not mean NEVER! All modules must be professionally cleaned, period!

The “Golden Rule” of Solar Panel Cleaning

Ultimately, the key is to clean solar modules when it makes the most financial sense. It is important to monitor your solar assets regularly and use sound judgment to determine when cleaning is most beneficial to your ROI ! (The Golden Rule)

In most cases, this is proactive scheduled maintenance ensuring the solar installation operates at maximum efficiency, leading to consistent and long term energy production. By preventing heavy soiling, proactive cleaning reduces the need for extensive cleaning sessions, potentially lowering overall maintenance costs.

In certain instances, when circumstances call for less frequent cleaning, it will benefit the asset owner/site manager to determine a predictive soiling mitigation strategy to keep costs low while ensuring efficient performance and optimal ROI. The use of monitoring systems can assist in identifying when reactive cleaning is necessary, providing a middle-ground approach that combines elements of both strategies.

The choice between proactive and reactive commercial solar cleaning depends on various factors, including budget constraints, system monitoring capabilities, and the desired level of efficiency maintenance. Some businesses may opt for a hybrid approach, combining regular proactive maintenance with occasional reactive cleanings based on specific performance indicators.

In Conclusion

While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to how often should you clean your solar panels, the frequency of cleaning commercial solar panels depends on various factors, including the local environment, climate, and the level of dirt or debris accumulation. In general, it is recommended to clean solar panels at least once a year, however certain conditions may account for more or perhaps less frequent cleanings. In these instances, it is crucial to consider all factors involved and the financial benefit of deviating from annual maintenance. Always communicate with your solar panel cleaning professionals at PV Worx and we will help in optimizing your cleaning schedule!

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