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Do my solar panels need cleaning?

Everything You need To Know About Solar Panel Cleaning

A strong topic of debate after installing solar is if it’s worth cleaning your solar panels. We will explore which scenarios make sense and when to get your solar panels cleaned.

Once your new solar system is installed it’s open to the elements. 

Leaves will begin to fall on the panels, dust and grime isn’t far away and the birds are excited about a new shiny thing to poop on. 

While cleaning your solar panels in theory makes perfect sense, in most scenarios it does not. 

The first thing to consider when assessing if it is worthwhile cleaning your solar panels is how the panels are installed.

We break it down into 3 installation scenarios

1. Panels on a pitched roof

Many Australian homes have pitched roofs. A pitched roof is typically a roof that slopes downwards.

Solar panels installed on a pitched roof greater than 5 degrees have less of a need for solar panel cleaning than a flat roof. 

Why? You ask.

With a pitched roof the solar panels are on an angle and thus not flat. Things such as leaves and debris are more likely to fall off the panels, especially when it rains.  

So, if your panels are on a roof with a pitch of more than five degrees. It probably isn’t worth while cleaning your panels.

2. Panels installed with tilt frames

Some installers or solar retailers choose to offer the customer a solution to install their solar panels with tilt frames. 

Tilt frames are angled, normally towards the North. This is to catch more sunlight and create more energy. Panels installed with tilt frames are less likely to need cleaning much like panels that are installed on a pitched roof. 

So, if you have panels on tilt frames, It probably isn’t worth while cleaning your panels.

3. Panels on a flat roof, installed without tilt frames.

When installed on a flat roof, solar panels have a higher chance of holding leaves and grime. Water on flat solar panels can pool and once dried, can settle a large amount of grime on the panel. 

So if you have flat panels on your roof, or panels under a five degree pitch, you should consider cleaning more often than your friends with pitched panels.

Another point to consider, does cleaning solar panels improve efficiency?

In nearly all cases cleaning solar panels will improve the efficiency and production of the solar panel, but by not much. 

There have been studies over the years to suggest solar panel cleaning will improve the output of the solar panel by no more than 5%. Unless they are absolutely filthy of course. 

However there is other research that suggests cleaning solar panels massively improves the output of your solar system. The results will come down to the site itself and how the panels are installed. 

So, cleaning solar panels may improve the output of the solar panel but the moment it’s clean, it’s already back facing the elements – meaning they will get dirty again soon anyways.

How much does solar panel cleaning cost?

The cost of solar panel cleaning varies. Anticipate the cost of cleaning your solar panels to be about $7 – $15 per panel. If your average system has around twenty panels, that’s anywhere from $140 to $300 for cleaning. 

Double story properties will cost more while easy access single story properties will cost less. 

A good idea is to get a solar panel cleaner to attend the site not just to do the panels. They are often able to clean the gutters and maybe some windows too – making the most out of their time and your money.

So, do my panels need cleaning?

Installation of solar panels on roofs which are pitched or the installation of solar panels on tilt frames don’t normally need cleaning. 

Solar panel installations on flat arrays may need cleaning but the cost associated may not be worth it. 

If you can see your panels, keep your eye out to ensure they are not building up too much grime. If you can’t see your solar panels we don’t suggest you worry about it too much, the rain will lend a hand in cleaning the panels. The last thing we would want is someone trying to get up on their roof to do it themselves and falling off!

The moral is, if they are filthy, clean them.

If they aren't, happy days.

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