Solar Panels have long been sold as ‘maintenance free’ and ‘self-cleaning’ products to entice potential customers, this is not strictly true as Solar PV Installations, like every outdoor flat surface are exposed to the elements such as rain, wind, traffic, birds, harvest time and sea air, which all bring their own types of duct and detritus that can accumulate on solar panels just as much as on any other surface. Should the PV cells within the installed solar panel system be obstructed from the sunlight, just like potential shading issues, it will impact the Return On Investment (ROI) by reducing the systems overall output.
The location of the Solar PV Installation affects the necessity for and frequency of cleaning Solar Panels, for example solar panels in rural locations get dirtier than those in urban areas. Generally roof mounted agricultural arrays require the most cleaning, then roof mounted commercial arrays, ground mounted solar panels and finally roof mounted residential arrays. The research shows Residential arrays benefit from cleaning once a year, whereas farms see financial benefits from cleaning their panels every 3-4 months.
The practical side of cleaning solar panels is what should be considered, with solar pv arrays installed on / in your roof, you need to realise that trying to clean them yourself is not the answer, professionals should always be contacted. Window Cleaners seem to have taken the initiative with many now offering solar panel cleaning with their service, just be sure they have the required health & safety knowledge needed in order to clean your solar panels safely. Please resist the urge to Do It Yourself! For the risk involved not only to yourself, but the risk to the solar panels themselves, the cost of professional cleaning is easily covered considering the impact the dirt would have on your system’s output and thus your financial gain.