Cleaning a roof is not something most people have ever done, because we usually only clean things when we can see they are dirty, and nobody spends time looking at their own roof. We might look at the roof of the house across the street, which might have moss or even weeds growing out of it, but that is someone else’s problem. When you’ve got solar panels up on yours, though, if you don’t clean them, not only do they look unsightly, but they are losing efficiency, and if saving money was part of the reason for having solar panels fitted, that important economy is being wasted.
Because of where they are fitted, cleaning solar panels comes with its own set of problems, and the first consideration must be safety. If it is possible to do the job standing on the ground, using a soft rag or sponge on a long pole, that is the way to go. We’ve all seen window cleaners tackling dirty glass many feet up in the air with something that looks like it could also be used for cleaning a swimming pool, so with a house that’s not too tall, it can be done. It won’t be comfortable and it won’t be easy, but it is necessary.
Treat Them With Care
Solar panels are quite delicate, with those glass surfaces to think about, and the smoother they are, the better they work, so it is vital not to scratch them. That’s why the rag/sponge on the end of your pole must be capable of gentle work: never use a scouring pad like you’d put to work on a caked saucepan. A soft brush, sponge or mop will do the job – but look out for any hard edges, which can undo all your good work with one unintended sharp blow.
Chemical Or Natural?
As for soap or some sort of liquid to help coax the dirt off, many advice columns for solar panels will recommend biodegradable substances because solar panels are part of the ecologically-aware movement. If you can find a biodegradable one, all well and good, but don’t beat yourself up too much if you end up using something less eco-friendly.
Of course, it is worth trying plain old water to see if that will do the trick, and if you’ve got good water pressure you might even find a good hosing is all that’s needed – that would certainly make your life easier. Also, if the layout of your house allows it and there is a dormer window or skylight in the roof, you may be able to use that to your advantage, hooking the hose up to a bath tap and doing the whole job from inside, with a bit of stretching and craning of the neck to get the angles right.
Alternatives can include using a scaffolding platform or renting a cherrypicker, both of which will cost money but make the process relatively easy.
Safety Up On The Roof
If all else fails and you have to get up on the roof, again it will depend on the layout of your house. If there are flat surfaces such as on extensions etc, that could help, but a safety harness should be used. If you know a roofer, why not ask their advice?
How Often Should I Clean My Solar Panels?
That will depend largely on the environment where you are. If there are trees around, there will be wind-blown debris. If there is shade and moisture, moss and fungus will flourish. Have a good look at your solar panels after a week or two and see how they’re doing. And keep having a good look. When they start to look grimy, clean them.