Solar panels are a great tool for protecting the environment and cutting your energy bill. They are an investment that can pay you back over time. At Protek Roofing, Heating, Air & Solar, we’re happy to install trouble-free rooftop solar energy systems. However, once installed, they do require maintenance, including cleaning, to ensure that they work properly. The good news is that the process is fairly easy. There are a few things to keep in mind to make sure it goes well.

Why Clean Your Solar Panels?

Dust and debris will build up on your solar panels over time. The film will cover their working surface and stop the solar energy from hitting it. The buildup is a gradual process because it takes a lot of dirt to block the light fully. Luckily, it’s nearly impossible to have enough grime built up to fully disable your solar panels. It is more likely that you will see a loss of efficiency. There is one major exception: A storm or other major event might cover your panels in leaves or other debris. In that case, you will see a sudden decrease in efficiency. You may see similar decreases due to construction in your area or other polluting events.

Some natural factors reduce the need to clean your solar panels. If you mount them on a sloped roof, dust will tend to slide off over time. Rain excels at cleaning solar panels, so you can usually ignore cleaning during wet seasons. Those factors make it hard to suggest a regular cleaning interval for your solar panels. Local conditions are so important that you cannot keep to a strict schedule. It is better to keep an eye on your system’s output and clean them if it drops. If your panels are working normally, there is no reason to clean them.

If you do see a decrease in electrical output, cleaning your solar panels may help. On the other hand, other problems can decrease their efficiency. You should never hesitate to ask our solar and roofing professionals to take a look at your system. At Protek Roofing, Heating, Air & Solar, we can diagnose any system in the area around Tampa, FL. You just need to give us a call so that we can head out and start fixing your issue.

Do Stay Safe

Electricity is inherently hazardous. It is easy to hurt yourself if you do not know what you are doing. The most basic precaution is to make sure that everything is turned off. Be sure to follow the instructions from your system’s manufacturer to turn it off without breaking anything. If any part of the process is unclear, get help before proceeding. If you try to guess how to proceed, you will probably break your system or hurt yourself.

There is an additional hazard if your solar panels are mounted on your roof. You might fall off and injure yourself while cleaning. The best way to avoid that is to stay on the ground. You may be able to reach your solar panels with extension tools. If you have to get on the roof, never do it when you are the only one home. Wait until you have a friend or family member around who can get help if you fall.

The other way to stay safe is to hire a professional. At Protek Roofing, Heating, Air & Solar, we have the tools and training to do the job safely. Our experience and strict procedures protect us from overlooking hazards and making dangerous mistakes.

Don’t Use the Wrong Cleaning Supplies

Solar panels are built to last, but they are far from unbreakable. The truth is that you can destroy them with improper cleaning. Abrasive detergents and tools can scratch your panels, which can ruin them. Even a small amount of damage can reduce their efficiency dramatically. In most cases, simply using clean water will get the job done. You should also avoid using any metal cleaning tools. Use a soft cloth or sponge to minimize the risk of damage.

It is important to avoid using hard water to clean solar panels. That can leave mineral residue on the panels after the water dries. The layer of minerals will interfere with the panels. At best, using hard water trades a layer of dust for a thin mineral deposit. At worst, the minerals will do more harm than the dust. Rainwater is the best option, but it is not always available. If you do have hard water, you can wipe it off of the panels before it dries. That will minimize the risk of mineral buildup.

Do Check the Instructions

Your solar panels should have come with a set of instructions. You should read them carefully before you start cleaning your solar panels. The instructions will explain how to do it properly and how often you should clean them. They will also warn you about the hazards of working on the panels.

Be sure to keep the instructions on hand while you are working. Refer to them if you are ever unsure about how to proceed. It can be tempting to use your best judgment so you can keep working, but that can be a mistake. People who read the instructions carefully and follow them thoroughly rarely have accidents. On the other hand, people who get sloppy and ignore the instructions tend to hurt themselves. It is worth taking a few minutes to check and make sure you are doing things properly.

If you do not have the instructions for your panels, you should reach out to an electrical contractor for help. Professionals like us are equipped to investigate systems and figure out what to do. In many cases, we will have experience with a specific type of system and have the instructions on hand. That allows us to navigate the situation with minimal risk to the system and ourselves.

Don’t Rush

Most of us want to get chores done as quickly as possible. When it comes to cleaning solar panels, that is a mistake. Rushing your work is the best way to create a new problem. It increases your risk of breaking delicate parts or hurting yourself in an accident. If you need to clean your solar panels, allow yourself more time than you expect to need. If you start to get tired, take a break until you feel better. This is one of the best ways to make sure you stay safe.

Do Get Help

Solar panels largely take care of themselves, but they do need occasional roofing inspection and cleaning. That can be a big job, and it is easy to make dangerous or destructive mistakes. If you want to avoid problems, the easiest solution is to get help from the experts. At Protek Roofing, Heating, Air & Solar, we have decades of experience helping people around Tampa, FL with heating, cooling, and electrical work. If you want to reduce your reliance on the grid by installing or maintaining solar panels, we can help. Give us a call to schedule a free energy consultation and plan your solar energy system.

Protek Roofing, Heating & Air

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