Skip to main content

Everything in life requires maintenance–your car, your house, and your rooftop solar panels.

You made a significant investment in a sustainable power system that would give you freedom and sovereignty over your power. But, the installation of your solar panels was not the end of it.

To perform at their very best, your panels require maintenance and care throughout the year, including an occasional rinse and soft scrub every so often.

Read on to learn how to properly clean and extend the life of your rooftop solar panels by avoiding these common mistakes.

Why You Need To Clean Your Solar Panels

Much like books on a shelf, your rooftop solar panels also collect dust. But, they also collect more than that.

Their position on top of your roof exposes them to several kinds of solar obstructions and weather conditions.

Even though your solar panels work all year round, they benefit from occasional cleans over the year that will help to maximize their solar output.

You may think that the rain is enough to help with your rooftop solar panel cleaning.

To an extent, rain does works.

Gravity works in tandem with the rain, but only for sloped roofs. Flat roofs retain the unfortunate residue and remnants of all kinds of solar panel obstructions that must be physically removed with cleaning.

Dust On Your Panels

The rain can wash away some of the dust, but the rain itself can also leave a deposit on your panels. Rain contains particles of dust that will cling to the surface of your solar panels even after the water has evaporated.

Dust may not reduce panel efficiency by much, but it’s not the only thing sitting on your rooftop solar panels. These next panel obstructions require a good clean every few months to keep your panels working at full efficiency.

Other Rooftop Solar Panel Decorations

Bird droppings, leaves, mud, and hardened debris can accumulate on your solar panels over time, in between cleans. These solar panel obstructions can effectively lower the solar output of your rooftop panels.

Luckily, your solar panel PV system is designed to store excess energy for periods where panels aren’t capturing as much energy as they can.

Even so, to keep your panels operating at the greatest efficiency all the time, clean your rooftop solar panels at least two times a year. Increase cleaning frequency if you live in an area with high pollution or very little rain.

Common Mistakes People Make When Cleaning Rooftop Solar Panels

You do not need a lot of fancy tools to clean your rooftop solar panels. However, there is a technique for cleaning solar panels that helps to maintain and extend their life.

Here are some of the most common mistakes people make when trying to clean rooftop solar panels independently.

Using A Pressure Washer

A pressure washer might work well for your barbeque grill or for cleaning your driveway. But think about how powerful that water is when it hits the surface of what it is cleaning.

You don’t want to use a pressure washer for your glass solar panels. The pressure of the water can crack and damage your panels, and cost you extra to replace.

Not Paying Attention to Temperatures

Rooftop solar panels sit on your roof and absorb all the heat and energy from the sun. They get pretty hot in the process.

If you spray cold water on your hot panels when cleaning them, they can crack.

The best time to clean your solar panels is in the morning or the evening when the sun is not at its peak. This makes it easier for you, too.

Not Reading The Instructions

Your solar panels come with a manufacturer’s guide or instructions on how to take care of your rooftop solar panels.

One of the biggest mistakes people make when they try to DIY clean their solar panels is using the wrong cleaning agent.

Never use harsh chemicals on your solar panels. The most they can handle is dish detergent diluted in water, but even that can damage the film on your solar panels.

Be sure to refer to the manufacturer’s guide before attempting to clean your solar panels on your own. If you’re still unsure, using just water is a safe bet.

Using Regular Water

Or water that is available from the tap.

Most people overlook something as simple as the water source when cleaning rooftop solar panels. This little detail can affect how your panels will look after cleaning.

Professional solar panel cleaners recommend using purified water to clean solar panels. You can use reverse osmosis or deionization to filter your water source.

Using pure water helps your rooftop solar panels to dry streak- and stain-free. That’s the goal–to get them sparkling clean by the end.

Using A Squeegee

Some people think that cleaning rooftop solar panels is like cleaning shower glass after a shower or cleaning a regular glass window.

It’s not. Your solar panels are different than either of those surfaces.

While squeegees work to quickly clean up liquids from glass surfaces, they are not the best tool to use on your solar panels. Think about where you’ll be using the tool.

A squeegee can pick up a tiny rock from your roof and transfer it onto the surface of your panel.

While you’re squeegee-ing your way down your rooftop solar panels, it will drag the rock across the surface and leave a distinguishable mark.

The best tools to use on your solar panels are soft bristle brushes, soft sponges, and plastic scrapers. You can attach these tools onto long poles that can help you to get to those harder-to-reach places.

Be sure to clean only where you can reach safely. You’re on the roof, after all.

Walking Without Caution

This might sound silly, but you need to hear it. Don’t walk around your roof without a game plan.

Professional rooftop solar panel cleaners and professionals who work on roofs know that the roof is a more dangerous terrain to navigate.

The steeper the roof, the more dangerous the clean. Use safety harnesses to secure yourself while cleaning your rooftop solar panels.

For steeper roofs, we do recommend hiring professional rooftop solar panel cleaners to get the job done. 

For flatter roofs, you can definitely do it yourself. Just be careful with how you walk on your roof. Clay- and tile-laid roofs are more prone to cracking, so heed caution if your roof is fragile.

After cleaning your solar panels, make a solid game plan to get off your roof safely. Because your roof’s surface and your shoe’s soles are wet and slippery, go slowly until you reach the ground.

How To Clean Solar Panels On Roof

Cleaning your own rooftop solar panels is not hard, and you don’t need super expensive tools.

Here are the tools and steps you need to take to get your panels sparkling clean and operating at maximum efficiency.

Tools You Need

  • Purified water
  • Angled garden hose with spray nozzle
  • Non-abrasive sponge
  • Soft bristle push broom
  • Plastic scraper
  • Long handle tool attachments
  • Extension ladder
  • Ladder stabilizer
  • Safety harness
  • Rope
  • Dishwashing detergent

You do not need all the tools listed here. Some are alternatives for others.

For example, you may not need a safety harness and rope if your roof is flat and relatively safe enough to work on.

You may also opt for a soft bristle push broom and forgo the handheld plastic scraper to help get rid of hardened debris.

This is just a list of tools you may need that can set you up for success for your rooftop solar panel cleaning.

Simple Steps For Cleaning

  1. Extend your ladder to your roof and attach the ladder stabilizer
  2. Get on the roof and bring up your equipment with caution
  3. Spray your solar panels down with your hose using purified or filtered water
  4. Use your soft bristle push broom to sweep the surface and loosen the debris
  5. Use your plastic scraper to go over the panel surface only where you can safely reach
  6. Spray your panels down once more to wash away the debris
  7. Get off the roof with extra caution

When To Hire A Professional

If you cannot safely get onto and off your roof to clean your solar panels, consider hiring a professional team.

Rooftop solar panel cleaners have extensive training for working on roof terrains and are insured in the case of accidents.

We recommend hiring a professional to clean your rooftop solar panels if:

  • your roof is too high or steep
  • you have a large solar panel system and a lot of surface area to cover

Take Care Of Your Power System

Your rooftop solar panels are not cheap and require the proper care and maintenance.

It’s like having a much more expensive iPhone on your roof, except your panels literally power your entire home. If they’re not working right, your home’s power system suffers.

Keep your rooftop solar panels operating at full efficiency by cleaning them throughout the year.

Have you made any of these mistakes while cleaning your rooftop solar panels?

Share this article to help a friend who’s thinking about attempting their rooftop solar panel cleaning on their own. You might save them these newbie mistakes and a lot of money in the process.