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Common Solar Panel Cleaning Methods

Solar Panel cleaning methods should be:

Effective

The panels must be as clean as new.

Affordable

The cost must be substantially less than the money you'll lose from the reduced output.

Safe for you, safe for the panels

Falling, tripping and slipping hazards must be prevented. Damage to the solar installation must be prevented.

Water efficient

If you have irregular rainfall, you don't want to use all your water on maintaining your panel output.

Regular

Weekly is optimum, but at least monthly is essential to have any real effect on average output.

Convenient

It must be simple and easy: automatic would be best.

How the Usual Methods Compare

Cleaning with a normal garden hose

Reasonably effective; if done at the array, poor if rooftop panels hosed from ground level; very cheap; can be done regularly (but is usually overlooked); hazardous if done from rooftop; very safe for the panels; not very convenient; no control over water usage.

Using a high-pressure water blaster

Very effective; cheap if done by owner, ~ $150 (average) if done by contractor; can be done regularly by owner, but expensive to do regularly if done by contractor; hazards require OH&S precautions; can penetrate and corrode electrical connections; not very convenient; no control over water usage.

Cleaning with brushes, sponges or squeegees

Very effective; cheap if done by owner, ~ $150 (average) if done by contractor; can be done regularly by owner, but expensive to do regularly if done by contractor; hazards require OH&S precautions; brushes and abrasive grit can scratch panel surface; not very convenient; no control over water usage.

Cleaning robots/machines

Very effective; only cost-effective for solar farms; can be done regularly once installed; some involve vehicular or lifting hazards; brushes and abrasive grit can scratch panel surface; some are automatic, some require manual positioning; water usage usually not a design priority except for water-free cleaning.

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