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Solar Panel Cleaning and Maintenance: Expert Guide

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Why Do I Need to Clean Solar Panels?

Left alone, solar panels accumulate bird droppings, leaves, dust and water, often called solar blockers. Accumulated solar blockers could reduce energy generated by your solar panels by as much as 25% after two years without cleaning. Hence, regular solar panel cleaning & maintenance is key to ensure the maximum amount of energy savings for your home. So, we have created a step by step guide for you to easily clean your solar panels!


How Often Should I Do Solar Panel Cleaning?

In Singapore, annual solar panel cleaning is usually sufficient, but not mandatory, with the heavy amount of rain we experience. Generally, solar panel cleaning is normally only administered when a drop in efficiency is observed due to the accumulation of dirt.

Rain naturally provides a minimal rinse of loose dust and debris, but manual cleaning is needed for dirt stuck in. 

The angle of your solar panels should also be taken into account when thinking about the frequency of cleaning. The less steep your panels are, the more likely it is to collect solar blockers. However, solar panel designs which are less steep in angle are typically more optimal in terms of output, which is usually more important.


When is the Best Time to Do Solar Panel Cleaning?

As solar panels are absorbing the sun’s energy all day, they can be too hot to touch in the afternoon. Solar panel cleaning is recommended in the early morning, or late evening when the panels are less hot. Do be cautious when cleaning the panels even on a cool day.

More importantly, on a hot day, the sun will evaporate the water too quickly, leaving smudges on the panel glass. This could affect energy output from your solar panels.


How Are Solar Panels Cleaned?

Step 1: Use A Water Hose

Water hose
Source: Unsplash

Cleaning solar panels with a water hose from ground level is the safest and easiest method. Allow the water spray to fall on the solar panels, simulating natural rainfall to wash away dirt and dust. For stubborn bird droppings, multiple rounds of washing may help soften them for removal.

Step 2: Soft Brushing with Isopropyl Alcohol or White Vinegar

Solar panel cleaning with soft cloth
Source: iStock

If you encounter oily smudges or persistent stains, and you can safely access your panels without climbing onto your roof, consider using a solution of isopropyl alcohol or white vinegar. These substances effectively remove smudges without leaving residue. Avoid using strong cleaning agents like detergents or bleach, as they may leave behind residue that attracts more dirt over time. Furthermore, use soft sponges or brushes designed specifically for solar panels to gently scrub away dirt.

Step 3: Finish Up with a Squeegee

Solar panel cleaning with squeegee
Source: iStock

After cleaning, water streaks can impact panel efficiency. To prevent this, use a long-handled squeegee to wipe the panels dry, similar to cleaning a window. This ensures that water streaks do not distort the sunlight reaching the solar panels.


Safety Precautions

Prioritizing safety in solar panel maintenance is paramount. It’s crucial to refrain from attempting to climb onto solar panels, not only due to the inherent hazards but also because it may be illegal in Singapore. Legal access to your roof typically requires licensed safety equipment. For comprehensive cleaning that involves panel access, we recommend enlisting the services of a licensed professional equipped with the necessary safety gear. Please avoid cleaning during or after rainstorms to prevent slippery surfaces, wear non-skid footwear for stability and ensure you have someone available for assistance in case of emergencies. These safety measures ensure that the maintenance process remains secure and effective.


Solar Panel Maintenance

Contrary to popular belief, solar panels are not costly to maintain. Solar panels are made from durable tempered glass built to withstand adverse weather conditions, stretching their lifespan from around 25 to 30 years. Hence, little work is required when it comes to solar panel maintenance. 

However, we still encourage solar owners to perform a preventive maintenance once every 1 to 2 years. Typically, the solar panel maintenance cost is charged on a per-trip basis, around SGD$300-500. You can reach out to your solar installer to do your solar panel cleaning and maintenance, but if you need a recommendation, check out our list of top 10 solar installers in Singapore here.

Does maintenance sound like a hassle to you? Discover GetSolar’s Rent-to-Own Plans for a Hassle-Free Solution. When you join our RTO plan, we take care of all maintenance for you, free of charge. If this interests you, click the following link to learn more.

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Solar Panel Warranty

The product warranty period for the majority of solar panels is between 12 to 25 years, covering at least half of your solar panel system’s lifespan. Within this warranty period, your solar installer will provide you with a free solar panel replacement if there are any defects or if the efficiency level goes below its guaranteed rate. However, you may have to pay for the labour cost associated with the replacement work.

Meanwhile, for solar inverters, the warranty period is shorter, about 5 to 12 years, in accordance with their shorter lifespan. However, as solar inverters are installed close to your home’s distribution board, accessibility will not be an issue. Your solar inverter can easily be swapped out when required.


Bonus Tips to Keep your Solar Panel System in Tip-Top Shape

If you find it difficult to clean your solar panels, you can invest in technology that can do your solar panel cleaning for you, such as sprinkler systems and automated cleaners. Or, you can simply choose to schedule appointments with solar panel cleaning companies.

You can also document the daily performance of your solar panels with the monitoring app most wi-fi enabled inverters come with. They are useful for general monitoring, which can allow you to discover and troubleshoot any future problems sooner. Do take note however that energy production outliers may emerge on cloudy days.

Finally, do engage a professional if you notice that your electricity bill is increasing without cause, see red or orange light on your inverters during the day or noticeable stains that you are unable to remove from your panels. These signs could mean that your solar panels are not generating the maximum energy for your home and need maintenance. 


Conclusion

GetSolar’s rent-to-own (RTO) plans

High upfront costs of your solar panel system troubling you? GetSolar’s rent-to-own (RTO) plans offer a solution worth considering! Our RTO plans eliminate or reduce the need for any upfront costs from clients. Instead, you’ll only make fixed monthly payments, while we install, maintain and service your solar panel system free of charge.

Try out our solar simulator and get a free estimate by clicking here.

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