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How and When to Clean Your Solar Panels

Home solar systems in NJ are virtually maintenance free.  This is because there are no moving parts in a solar array.  A solar installer should be using flashings underneath each panel to protect against leaks, they should use panels warrantied for 12-20 years, and strong solar inverters. 

With the components of a high quality, the risk for failure quite low.  However, one piece of maintenance that may be required is the cleaning of the solar panels.

In New Jersey, cleaning solar panels may be part of a solar company’s general solar service and repair package.  Most companies will not offer this, but there are some companies that may offer this package exclusively.  You can also perform this work yourself on some more accessible solar arrays. 

Some home solar systems do not need to be cleaned at all.  That is because most build up on a solar array will be from pollen or dust.  The pollen and dust will usually be washed off with a bit of rain, and most solar arrays are tilted at an angle which will help facilitate this naturally cleaning.  Some home solar systems will need more help than others.   These systems may be in arrays that are dry and prone to draught.  Think of Southern California or Arizona for example.  The dust from the desert can stick to a panel and impact the production by up to 5%! Other arrays that can be bad are those close to lakes or the ocean.  Bird droppings can accumulate all over the solar panels and wont necessarily come off after the first rain. 

In New Jersey, if you experience bird droppings or more than usual pollen, we recommend an annual cleaning. 

If you choose to perform this solar service yourself, be sure you have enough room around your array to walk around comfortably.  If the array is edge to edge on the roof, and you feel uncomfortable in anyway, leave it to the professionals!  Other things to consider are the type of shoes you have on and using a hat to keep the sun out of your face.

When cleaning the solar panels try to perform the work in the morning or late evening.  This will insure the panels are not too hot.  If they are too hot you could risk cracking them from the quick change in temperature.  For the actual cleaning, you need to hose off the panels, wash them with water and a little car or dish soap using a car wash brush, and then wipe them down with a squeegee.  Of course, be sure your solar panels are off when you perform this routine solar maintenance.

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