As warmer weather arrives and flowers begin to bloom, many Americans will begin the annual rite of spring cleaning. A 2017 poll by Sparefoot, a self-storage industry news site, found that 78 percent of Americans plan to tackle spring cleaning projects, spending an average of four days on the process. So what if anything – should you be doing this spring to maintain and clean your solar power system? You may be surprised to learn that studies have shown that the benefits of cleaning your solar panels do not justify paying for professional cleaning of your array. If you are like us – completely addicted to reviewing PV monitoring – then you can see up-to-the-minute data on your system. If your PV monitoring system shows that your solar array is producing the power expected, then things are probably working just fine.
This is not to say that there aren’t steps you should take to ensure your PV system can perform at an optimal level. If there are trees in proximity to your house, you should trim them regularly to avoid damage from falling limbs and keep shade from reducing solar power collection. You should check visually that there isn’t any leaf debris built up under your array but be careful before reaching your hand under there – sometimes squirrels or other critters build nests under solar power arrays. And they don’t like to be disturbed (a broom handle poked in there first should do the trick).
Dryer vents are the worst offenders for the build-up of debris around solar panels and mounting – dryer lint should definitely be cleared once the build-up has become visible to the eye. Lint and other types of soft debris can retain moisture and cause mold to grow on or around panels.
If you remove any debris from around your array, don’t do anything with a lot of force. Watch for and certainly avoid touching or moving the wiring.
Finally, if you need to wash debris off your panels, do NOT use detergent, abrasive powders or soap as these can scratch or smear the glass. This can definitely reduce the efficiency of your system. Stick with fresh water from your hose and, if direct contact is absolutely necessary to remove dirt or debris, a soft squeegee or cloth is recommended. Try to avoid cleaning during the hottest part of the day as the water may evaporate too quickly to get the panels clean.
We do offer repair and maintenance service when professional help is needed. If monitoring shows that there may be an issue with your system, don’t hesitate to give us a call!