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I absolutely love my roof solar panel array! The panels are always in the optimum location for soaking up sun, it saves me a pretty penny on the electric bill, it’s great for the environment, and gives me a power supply to fall back on in SHTF situations.
However, as perfect a location as a roof seems for solar panels, the whole idea is not without its flaws, namely, not being able to reach the panels in order to clean them.
If we can’t clean our panels, they amass dirt and debris until they’re left sucking sun through a film of grime, amounting to a truly lackluster energy yield. Not to worry, though because I’ve got your back with some pro rooftop solar panel cleaning tips!
How Often Should You Clean Your Rooftop Solar Panels?
A lot of rooftop solar panels are marketed as being self-cleaning — Great, right? I guess I can quit writing this article, make myself a cup of coffee, and relax on the couch.
But alas, things aren’t that easy. I am still here tip-tapping away, and you are still going to need to clean your rooftop solar panels.
What the term “self-cleaning” actually means is that they’re hydrophobic, which, in less intimidating lingo, tells us the surface is slick enough that most moisture should roll off — duck’s back-style.
So, what I’m getting at here is that even if you have “self-cleaning” solar panels, they still need to be cleaned. How often you should give them a bit of sudsy TLC depends on your situation.
For example, if you live in a very arid, dusty land, or birds have taken to pooping on your panels, you’ll need to clean at least bimonthly. If dust isn’t an issue, and you’re not perplexed by a persistent poop problem, you can get away with cleaning once every four months or so.
When Should You Clean Your Rooftop Solar Panels?
Now, I know that we solar nuts are basically modern-day sun worshipers, but if we really want to get that pristine, fresh from the factory finish, we need to quit praying for sunshine (just for a second) and beg for some gloomy, overcast weather.
It sounds crazy, I know, but there’s method behind this solar blasphemy, I swear. When the sun is beating down on you, the moisture is going to evaporate incredibly quickly, leaving behind water spots and streaks, thereby limiting the efficiency of your array.
The earlier you get up in the morning to do it, the better, too, as the accumulation of dew on the panels will have softened the dirt, debris, and guano, making it easy to wipe away with minimal effort.
4 Ways Of Cleaning Rooftop Solar Panels
There are a few approaches you can take to clean your rooftop panels. Which one you go for depends on whether you can reach them from the ground, and whether you can get onto and back down from your roof safely.
Method 1. Cleaning From The Ground
The safest way to clean your roof-dwelling panels is to never leave the ground, so unless you’ve got freakishly long arms, or you’re like… Shaquille O’Neal-tall, you’ll need an extendable cleaning utensil.
Something like this Docapole 6 to 24 ft telescoping pole, window squeegee is just the ticket. Ideally, you’ll be cleaning after rainfall or after the accumulation of dew, but if it’s quite dry, try to give your panels a quick spritz with your garden hose.
Once they’re sufficiently soaked, wet your extendable squeegee, then go to town. If your panels are looking particularly nasty, you may want to use a bit of mild dish soap in your bucket of water, but bear in mind that if not properly rinsed, soap leaves a residue that can attract debris.
Once you’re certain you’ve scrubbed every inch of every panel, try and hit them with your hose again to rinse off any residual debris, and voilà; job complete!
Method 2. Cleaning On A Ladder
Should you not be able to reach your rooftop panels from the ground due to the height of your home or awkward panel positioning, you can use the same technique and equipment but up a ladder — I’d recommend something like this Louisville fiberglass extension ladder..
You won’t have to risk standing on your roof, but, as it’s not safe to lean when up a ladder, there’ll be a lot of ascending and descending involved, so you can shift the ladder across the perimeter of your home.
You’ll need to avoid resting it on your guttering, as it’s a slippery surface and may break or come loose. I’d also recommend roping a friend or family member in to hold the ladder steady as you work — you can never be too careful.
Method 3. Cleaning On The Roof
If your roof is secure, and you’re willing to get up there, you have a much wider choice in terms of equipment, as you won’t necessarily be stuck using the long-handled squeegee.
Stick to just water if at all possible, but, again, if you need to use some mild soap, it’s okay as long as you give them a good rinse to finish things off. Anything more volatile than mild soap may damage the surface of your panels, so leave the heavy-duty stuff beneath the kitchen sink!
Needless to say, unless your roof is flat, this is a risky job, so I’m obliged to mention that you should only be up there if you have proper training.
Method 4. Hire A Professional
It may cost a few bucks, but the easiest and safest way to clean your rooftop panels is to simply hire a professional to do it for you. I know, I know… it’s a bit of a cop-out, but safety should always be a top priority!
That about covers all bases, I believe, but before you hurry off to gather your equipment, always check the manufacturer’s cleaning suggestions.
A shoot-first-ask-questions-later approach may end up damaging your panels, and then you’ll be back on the money-munching grid with everyone else.