To clean or not to clean photovoltaics?

To clean or not to clean photovoltaics?

Why do so many of the users of photovoltaic installations believe that they should not be cleaned? Where do the myths come from that the modules will be cleaned by rain and energy will flow from them like a mythical ”perpetual motion machine”?

In the world of sustainable energy, where photovoltaics are playing an increasingly important role in the global energy mix, many myths and misunderstandings persist. One such myth is the belief that solar panels do not require cleaning. In this article, we explain why this is a misconception and the benefits of regular solar panel cleaning.

The myth of self-cleaning panels. To clean or not to clean photovoltaics?

There is a common belief that photovoltaic panels are “self-cleaning” thanks to rain, which clean away most of the pollution. While rain can help remove loose dirt such as dust and leaves, it can’t effectively handle tougher dirt like bird droppings or accumulated industrial dust. This type of pollution can significantly reduce the efficiency of the panels, as it blocks sunlight from reaching the photovoltaic cells.

Why clean the panels?

  1. Increasing efficiency: Dirty panels can generate 15-25% less energy than clean panels. Regular cleaning ensures that the panels operate at maximum possible efficiency.
  2. Life extension: Dirt can cause corrosion and other damage on the surface of the panels. Clean panels are less susceptible to damage and can last longer.
  3. Warranties and insurance conditions: Some panel manufacturers or insurance companies may require regular cleaning as a condition of maintaining a warranty or insurance policy.

How and when to clean the panels?

Cleaning photovoltaic panels is relatively simple, but it requires following certain rules:

  • Frequency: it is recommended to inspect and clean the panels at least once a year, although more frequent cleaning may be needed in some areas (such as near roads where air pollution is higher).
  • Methods: Using a soft brush or cloth and clean water, possibly with a mild detergent. Avoid abrasive products that can scratch the surface of the panels.
  • Safety: cleaning of panels, especially those placed on roofs, should be carried out with safety measures to avoid falls and other accidents.

Although the myth of self-cleaning photovoltaic panels is widespread, the reality of operating PV systems shows that regular and proper cleaning is essential to maintain their efficiency and longevity.

The investment in regular cleaning of photovoltaic panels pays off not only through higher efficiency, but also through better financial and technical security for the entire system. Clean panels are efficient panels, and this translates into greater savings and a smaller carbon footprint.

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Lighthief is innovation, technology and science in the service of recycling photovoltaic panels and wind farms. The company's topics of interest touch on recovery and recycling in the broadest sense, mainly in the field of RES, or renewable energy sources.


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+ 48 797 897 895

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+48 797 897 895