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Solar Panel Cleaning:

The CEC recommends cleaning panels at least once a year – more if you’re in a dusty environment. Panels are easy to clean but can be a very dangerous task. It’s important to note that if you intend to clean them yourself, you are ensuring that you are confident and competent at working at heights and are wearing the appropriate PPE.

Why clean your panels?

It’s important that panels are clean and free from debris so you can get the most out of your system. If you live in an area where there is lots of dust like a development area or farm, this could be up to twice a year. However, yearly is more common.

SAFETY FIRST!

Think first and plan your task. You want to clean from above the panels if possible to help avoid walking on a wet roof. Wearing a harness is one form of defence but only works if used correctly. There are courses available that show you how to work on roofs safely (working at heights) which we highly recommend doing before you attempt a task like this.

Most Australian homes have a 22.5 degree roof pitch. Do not attempt to walk on a roof above that 22.5 degree pitch, even if you are wearing a harness. Seek a professional to complete the task if this is the case.

Make sure you are never on your own while cleaning solar panels, as you may find yourself injured or hanging off the roof and in need of urgent help.

Not all roofs are the same. Some tin roofs get very slippery, even when they are not wet. Some tile roofs can also become very slippery with just a small amount of moisture in the air. Please consider all these factors before attempting to clean your panels.

HOW TO CLEAN YOUR SOLAR PANELS

First: switch your system off by following the instructions in the inverter manual. If you collect water from your roof for drinking, you may want to consider blocking or diverting the roof water while you clean.

Next, check to see if there is any visible damage to the solar panels. Do not touch any of the cables or connection. If you see any damage, soot marks or rust marks on the panels, cables or isolators, don’t touch anything and contact a professional. If there is no visible damage, start to clean the panels from above using plain water (no chemicals or detergents). The best way to clean solar panels is  to use a soft broom with a hose attachment as featured in our Solar Panel cleaning video above. But you can just use a sponge.

Never use a pressure washer as this can damage the panels and void the warranty. You should never walk or lean heavily on the solar panels as this can create micro cracks in the panels, which can lead to significant reduction in the performance of the solar system. It can also void the warranty of the system. Most panels will clean easily without hard scrubbing, you can use a flat Stanley blade to remove stubborn marks like bat and bird droppings. Avoid wetting underneath the panels as this is where most electrical connections are. Remember that water and electrics don’t mix well and can become very dangerous with the inclusion of solar panels.

When the panels are clean and the roof is dry, it is a good idea to have a closer look at the panels so you can inspect for fine damage like microcracks and hotspots. These are not always visible, but overtime may start to appear as a small burn mark on the front or back of the panels. Or you may see what likes a snail trail across the panel; if this is visible it’s time to call a professional.

Some damage may be covered by warranty on your panels but if it’s deemed the panel was damaged by poor installation practices (which is unfortunately common these days), you may find your warranty will not cover it. This is why it’s important to do your research and decide on a reputable, trustworthy solar company.

Once the system is clean, you should see a notable increase in performance. Maintaining your system regularly will assist in longetivity of the solar system. Here at Circuit Alert Solar, we have a dedicated team that service and clean solar panel systems. If you would like us to clean your solar panels, you are welcome to contact us on 07 5477 0610 for a quote.

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