Whether it’s because of the huge savings in energy costs, or for environmental awareness  reasons, the fact is more and more people are flocking to solar energy as a  reliable source for their home needs. This has made solar panels incredibly  popular in recent years.

However, some may  not be aware of the need for solar systems maintenance. These panels are not  just ‘plug and forget‘, so you must plan for maintaining your solar panels. If  you have –or plan to have- this alternative energy system installed at home,  you may wonder, how to maintain your solar panels?

First of all, refer to your manufacturer’s manual for detailed instructions and warnings.  Never forget you will be working on electrical equipment, and safety becomes of  utmost importance. Some panels require being totally shut down and disconnected  from the grid before cleaning. Use safety boots, and if the panels are on a  roof, you will need to exercise extra caution, and maybe even use a restraint  strap, and anchor it.

As for cleaning  agents, avoid anything abrasive, and harsh chemicals. Remember you are dealing  with delicate equipment that just has been exposed to the natural elements. So  no need to over do it by scrubbing too hard, since after all, it’s only accumulated  dirt you are trying to remove. Water and scrubbing with a sponge is normally  enough for maintaining your solar panels. Tougher dirt may require some dish  soap.

A bad idea is trying to expedite the process using a pressure washer. This will probably damage the delicate film that covers the panels, and even cause the panel to crack. A garden hose with good flow and not much pressure will do the work.

Since in many areas water tends to be hard, it is a good idea to rinse the panels with soft water. If the panels are not too big, a couple of gallons of distilled water will be enough; if you need more, and don’t want to incur in an extra expense, just collect some rainwater in advance and use it for that purpose.

It also helps to use a squeegee to remove excess water, the reason being that if you let the water just sit and evaporate, calcium deposits will be left on the panel’s surface.

Solar panel maintenance is usually required once or twice a year, but in some areas high humidity combined with airborne dust will call for more frequent cleaning.

Properly maintaining your solar panels is extremely important, not only to prolong their useful life, but also because a dirty panel has its efficiency reduced by up to 25%.