Solar Panel Cleaning is an important part of maintaining your solar energy system. Regular cleaning prevents corrosion from animal defecation, mineral deposits, plant matter, dust, and other debris. Rain will not clean your solar panels, lacking the power to remove most grime and deposits. Rainstorms will add to the problem, providing a means for the Arizona dust and debris to adhere to your panels. An example of this is the dust and debris on your car after sitting in a rain storm.
Cleaning your solar panels with a hose will not remove most mineral deposits and oils either, which corrode and can damage your panels. Just like rain, a garden hose lacks the power to remove stubborn deposits. Here in Arizona, much of the water is hard, containing minerals and chemicals that reduce the efficiency of solar panels by blocking sunlight and may lead to damage if left over time. Each time you wash your panels with a garden hose you are adding more chemical and mineral deposits, making them harder to clean in the future.
Why should I clean my solar panels?
According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) “high-traffic, high-pollution areas with infrequent rain” experience energy losses of up to 25% because of foreign matter coating the panels (2011). Considering this, an average size residential solar system (about 6kw) would lose about 2,000 watts per year, representing a major loss. Even a smaller system experiencing a smaller reduction in efficiency benefits from regular cleaning, justifying the expense.
Considering that most panel manufacturer warranties require regular cleaning, not cleaning your panels could cost you. A panel malfunction can be expensive if not covered by a warranty, costing over a $1000 in many cases. A solar power system is a big investment. Protect that investment with regular, professional cleaning from Salt River Solar & Wind.
NREL: PVWatts – How to Change Parameters. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.nrel.gov/rredc/pvwatts/changing_parameters.html