Can you pressure wash solar panels?

Fast read

Using a high-pressure washer to clean your solar panels is typically not advised since the pressure can weaken the delicate cells and cause microcracks.

These tiny flaws can cause hot spots and even burn scars on the panel, rendering it useless and perhaps posing a fire danger. Additionally, the excessive pressure may allow water to enter the panel, leading to faults and problems with the electrical system.

Instead, it is advised to clean solar panels with low pressure, gently hosing or glass cleaner, a warm pail of water, and a little elbow grease. To ensure safe and effective cleaning, it is also essential to use a professional solar panel cleaning service.

Can you pressure wash solar panels, or will it likely damage them? 

Solar panels are becoming a staple in many households, old and new. They are a great way to reduce energy costs and decrease reliance on fossil fuels. A crucial aspect of maintaining this solar system is ensuring regular solar panel cleaning. Regular maintenance is important for solar panels, as they can withstand various environmental conditions. One question that is frequently asked is ‘Can you pressure wash solar panels?’, well let’s have a look.

Many homeowners forget to clean their homes, even though it may only be necessary once a year. The outdoors exposes these solar panels to dust, dirt, and other debris.

Over time, these elements accumulate on the surface of the panels. Dirty solar panels can lose around 5% of annual output. But when substances like Lichen cover your panels, it becomes a bigger problem and makes them almost useless.

solar panel with growth on them
Lichen on your panels decreases their functionality significantly

Our recommendation

What do we at Your Energy Answers recommend when cleaning your solar panels? Here at Your Energy Answers, we prioritise safety. We strongly advise homeowners against climbing onto their roofs to clean the panels. Yes, cleaner solar panels will increase the solar power generation in a solar installation, but not at any price.

The risks involved in this cleaning job are high, especially when placing solar panels on slanted surfaces. Individual cleaning might be somewhat safer when considering panels installed on flat, single-level roofs. However, the cleaning method still matters immensely.

Some people might think: Can’t you pressure wash your solar panels like we do with concrete driveways and garages? But here’s the catch: Solar panels comprise aligned solar cells, laminated and then shielded with a layer of tempered glass.

Using pressure washers on the glass layer can harm the cells below, regardless of the panel’s quality. This holds particularly true when applying water pressure to one specific area. This happens because the pressure exerted on the cells becomes too much.

Aggressively cleaning a solar system in just one session can cause it to display micro-cracks in years to come. These damages make things less efficient and can cause panel hot spots, fire hazards, and more malfunctions later on.

Panel manufacturers can identify micro-cracks and usually have EL images of the solar panels in their archive as they leave the factory – micro-crack-free, therefore, if a customer wants to claim a product warranty on such solar panels the panel manufacturer most likely would deny the claim.

Moreover, using a pressure washer to clean solar panels might harm the solar plugs or the edges of panel laminations. In worst-case scenarios, this could lead to water seeping into the plugs or the panel, creating electrical malfunctions. Though rare, the consequences can be severe.

The Clean Energy Council and other experts recommend not using electric pressure washers. This is true even if the solar panels are very dirty. The reason for this advice is to have the system last as long as possible and to maximise energy and financial benefits from the system in years to come.

The recommended approach to cleaning

So, how should one approach solar panel cleaning? Industry consensus discourages the use of high-pressure washers. So are there special solar panel cleaning solutions on the market, that will remove the grime and dirt easily from the solar energy system?

Instead of pressure washing solar panels to get more electricity generated, opt for a gentle garden hose with soapy water. Pair this with a soft bristle brush to scrub away stubborn spots like bird droppings without causing harm. This manual cleaning method, combined with some elbow grease, is often the safest.

To ensure a safer and more effective cleaning of your solar panels, we recommend hiring a professional cleaning service. They know which cleaning products to use, how to access high spaces safely and how to treat your solar PV system to generate long-term clean surfaces on the solar panels.

These professional cleaners have the expertise, tools, and cleaning solutions to ensure optimal panel performance. It’s a worthy investment every year or two, ensuring your solar panels’ longevity and efficiency.

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