Why do solar panels need cleaning?

Answer: to improve your solar panel’s performance and reliability!

Let us explain…

Your solar panels will be installed with the correct amount of tilt, that will mean they will generally self-clean by taking advantage of rain running across them to keep clean.

However, here in Australia we can experience particularly long periods of drought, during which dust build-up, bird’s droppings and other air pollution will accumulate on your solar panels over time.

Also, if you have trees close by your solar panels, particularly deciduous ones, these will drop leaves onto your panels as well as attract birds.

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Each of the above mentioned build-ups can affect the electric generation of your solar panels per module.

After all, it makes sense that solar panels will work most effectively when their view to the sun is not obstructed with dirt buildup and other debris.

So, to ensure that you are achieving your fullest possible solar power generation percentage, make sure to keep on top of that all important solar panel cleaning!

How often should I clean my solar panels?

As a general rule, considering our harsh Australian climate, you want to aim to clean your solar panels at least every six months.

However, if we are experiencing extreme climate conditions for a prolonged period of time such as fires, dust storms or excessive rain storms, then you may need to clean your panels more often.

Locations that may require more frequent cleaning

If your home is positioned within close range to a highway or a construction site – both of which will produce excess airborne debris, you will need to practice more frequent solar panel cleaning.

Also, homes within coastal areas such as many of our beautiful suburbs within the Shoalhaven should consider the buildup of marine layer residue, which can leave an obstructive film that too will require more frequent cleaning.

How to clean your solar panels

Plan for safety first


Before jumping up on your roof with your cleaning gear and good intentions, stop and consider your safety first.

Basically, nobody should be up on their roof without being attached to a safety harness, or without wearing a hard hat.

Check out some information around working safely at heights here.

TIP: Choose a cool day to get up on your roof and clean, as roofs generally hold a lot of heat which can make your task a whole lot harder!

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Talk to our professional team about cleaning your solar panels!

Safe solar panel cleaning

If you are wanting to give solar panel cleaning a go yourself, you should be able to find the right materials to use at home.

For best results and to ensure that you don’t scratch your solar panels in any way, simply use water and a soft, non-abrasive sponge or cloth to clean away dirt and debris.

Like you would with glass windows or when washing your car, dry with a squeegee or chamois to avoid leaving residue behind.

If you need to use soap, don’t use anything stronger or harsher than the detergent you would use to wash your dishes with.

Environmentally friendly and chemical free soaps are best to use, as they won’t harm your plants or animals if they splash off the roof, and they also won’t leave a nasty residue that could mark your panels.

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Ultimately, you may decide to leave your solar panel cleaning up to the professionals, and just make spot checks yourself every now and then.

When should I call in the professionals?

As mentioned previously, the average bit of dust will be cleaned away for you by rain, and it won’t be worth getting professional cleaners in.

However, you may want to consider giving them all call if;

  • You live within a heavily polluted or coastal area
  • You have deciduous trees nearby your solar panels
  • You notice a particularly tough buildup on your panels such as bird droppings
  • You are elderly or simply not confident getting up on your roof

TIP: To prevent you having to climb up on a ladder to inspect the condition of your solar panels, you could have a CCTV camera installed that points at the panels.

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What NOT to do

To avoid damaging your panels while cleaning them yourself, make sure you use the proper supplies.

Don’t use;

  • Harsh soaps such as strong detergents or soaps that contain chemicals, as these can be corrosive to the solar panel unit’s surface
  • Rough cleaning instruments such as abrasive cloths and sponges, or heavy toothed brooms, as these can scratch the surface of your panels

It goes without saying, but also never stand on your solar panels, as the weight could cause them to crack.

Don’t forget to inspect your panels regularly

Additionally, don’t forget to give your solar panels regular inspections to ensure they’re free from damage or cracks, but also from nests which tend to be built by birds and rodents!

Inspecting your panels to make sure they’re soaking up as much sun as possible will help to keep your electricity bills down!

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For more information or advice on solar panel cleaning, please contact our friendly sales team today on (02) 4464 1597!

By Darren Chung

Darren is the owner of Shoalhaven Solar. His passion is providing people with quality solar energy systems, so that they become less reliant on energy retailers and dirty energy.

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