How to Clean Solar Panels_Virginia

How Often Should I Clean My Solar Panels in Virginia?


Cleaning Solar Panels in Virginia

To maximize solar panels output, efficiency, and return on investment, it’s crucial to make sure that they are performing at peak capacity. Keep your solar panel clean and free from debris is an easy way to achieve peak energy output. 

Can Regular Rainfall Clean My Panels?

Regular rainfall will typically do a pretty good job cleaning your solar panel, especially in a state like Virginia with an annual rainfall of 43.15. having serviced hundreds of solar panels, if you ask us “Do solar panels need regular cleaning to maintain peak efficiency” our answer would be, “it depends”. Typically, how often you should clean your solar panel depends on the following:

  1. How much debris is collected over time and how frequent
  2. Proximity to pollutants
  3. How much rainfall the location gets
  4. Weather rainfall will wash off up to 95% of the debris

In this article, you will learn the importance of regular cleaning, when to clean solar panels, how much it costs to clean solar panels, the materials required, and a DIY step-by-step guide on how to clean solar panels properly.

Solar Panels after a Rain _Virginia

Is Regular Cleaning Important in Virginia?

It can cost upwards of $200-$300 to get a solar company to clean your solar panels. To justify this cost, typically your solar panels in VA would need to be performing below 85% capacity to justify a cleaning. With Dominion Energy Solutions our solar panel systems include a monitoring app, so you view system output and capacity in real time. Considering the state’s frequent rainfall, you can expect a good wash from the rain except for perhaps areas that see relatively less rainfall like Shenandoah Valley. So, is regular solar panel cleaning important? Yes, do solar panels in Virginia need frequent cleaning? For Virginia it’s more of a case-by-case basis, and you should decide based on the system’s output capacity. 

Solar panels are exposed to various weather conditions and environmental factors such as dust, pollen, bird droppings, and tree sap. These elements can accumulate on the surface of the panel, reducing its ability to absorb sunlight and convert it into electricity. Regular cleaning ensures that the panels are free from these contaminants and can operate at maximum efficiency.

When Should I Clean My Solar Panels?

Typically, we recommend you clean your solar panels at least once or twice a year. However, exceptions can be made depending on several factors which may include the location of the panels, weather conditions, and the amount of debris that accumulates on them. So, before considering cleaning your solar panels in a state like Virginia with a good amount of rainfall, ask yourself the following question.

  1. What is the position of solar panels? Solar panels laid flat, typically between 0 – 5 degrees, are more likely to retain debris regardless of the amount of rainfall. This is because the minimal tilt angle prevents water runoff from effectively washing away accumulated dirt, dust, and other particulate matter, leading to increased build-up over time.
  2. Where is your home located? If you live downwind from a highway, farm, or airport, your solar will likely be more prone to a high build-up of dust. Areas prone to pollution from industrial smog or wildfire smoke also have a high build-up of dust. If this is the case for you then you are the exception.
  3. Do you have tall trees around your home? Is your house surrounded by tall trees? States like Virginia, Alabama, and Maine are more prone to this type of problem as tall trees surrounding your panels may lead to a buildup of leaves and bird dropping.
  4. Is your climate humid enough for moss to grow? Sometimes rain can also be a problem as moss thrives in environments where the relative humidity is consistently above 60%. However, this is a problem-prone to states like Alaska, Hawaii, and Florida.
Virginia Home with solar panels

H3: What is the best way to clean solar panels?

There are two ways to clean solar panels. You can do either do it yourself or employ the help of a professional exterior home cleaning company. Regular solar panel cleaning is something you can do with a dishwashing liquid and water from a hose. We will find a step-by-step guide on how to clean your solar panels below, however, for cases like localized soiling where certain areas of your solar panel experience heavy blockage, you might need some technical knowledge. Since most solar panels are also mounted on rooftops, safety is another thing to worry about. Take all this into account before deciding on the best way to clean your solar panels. And, if you are thinking about pressure washing your solar panel, you should know that using pressure washers, metal objects or abrasive detergents may damage your system.

How Much Does It Cost To Clean My Solar Panels?

The cost of cleaning solar panels depends on various factors such as the size and location of the panels, the amount of debris that needs to be cleaned, and the cleaning method used.

However, it is important to note that regular cleaning can help prevent damage to the panels and save money on costly repairs or replacements in the long run. Get in touch with one of our experts for vetted panel cleaning companies.

Cleaning Solar Panels Virginia

What Materials Do I Need To Clean My Solar Panels?

Cleaning a solar panel isn’t overly complicated, a simple hose spray is typically the easiest and least intrusive way to go. However, for the stickier build-up, you’ll need the following materials:

  • Soft-bristled brush or sponge
  • Clean water
  • Mild detergent or soap
  • Squeegee
  • Bucket

We strongly recommend using a fall protection system and avoid cleaning the solar panels when the temperatures are dropping to freezing to avoid ice forming on the surface.

Additional Security Measures

When cleaning solar panels, it is important to consider additional safety measures to prevent accidents and injuries.

  • Before cleaning, ensure that the solar panel system is turned off and the panels have cooled down. 
  • Avoid standing on the panels or applying too much pressure while cleaning, as this can damage the panels.
  •  If the panels are located on a roof, use a ladder or scaffolding to access them and wear appropriate safety gear such as non-slip shoes, gloves, and a safety harness. 
  • Additionally, be cautious of wet surfaces and avoid using electrical equipment near the panels. 

Following these safety measures can help ensure a safe and successful solar panel cleaning process.

How To Clean Solar Panels: Step-by-step Guide

Follow these steps on how to manually clean solar panels to help you clean your solar panel the right way:

  1. Make sure you check the manufacturer’s instructions, if available
  2. Turn off the solar panel system and wait for the panels to cool down before cleaning them.
  3. Use a soft-bristled brush or sponge to remove any loose debris or dirt from the surface of the panel. Do not use abrasive materials or brushes as they can scratch the panel’s surface.
  4. Fill a bucket with clean water and add a mild detergent or soap.
  5. Wet the sponge or brush in the soapy water and gently scrub the surface of the solar panel. Don’t use high-pressure water sprayers as they can damage the surface of the panels.
  6. Rinse the panel with clean water using a hose or bucket.
  7. Use a squeegee to remove any excess water from the surface of the panel.
  8. Let the panel dry completely before turning the solar panel system back on.

Regular cleaning of solar panels is essential to maintain their efficiency and longevity. Cleaning solar panels is not a complicated process, and it can be done using simple materials such as a soft-bristled brush or sponge, clean water, mild detergent or soap, squeegee, and a bucket. By following our step-by-step guide provided above, you can clean your solar panels the right way and ensure that they continue to generate clean and renewable energy for your home or business.

Want to find out more, or have questions about installing solar panels on your property?

Connect with one of our solar experts. We would love to be able to help!

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