Solar and leaves, debris — do I have to clean off my solar panels?
If you’ve followed along in our blog series, you already know that a more efficient home is one of the key factors in getting the most out out a residential solar electric system. But one of the many frequent questions we get from solar power users here in El Dorado Hills revolves around the change in seasons, from fall to winter as the last of the leaves fall from the trees and the temperatures drop: “Do I have to clean the leaves and debris from my solar panels?”
When you have make the switch to using renewable energy in your own home, you want to get the most out of it. So here are our tips to keeping your solar panels clear of any obstructions, so you aren’t losing out on even a single ray of sunshine that will power your home.
Fall Solar Challenges & Maintenance
You’ve likely already seen the first leaves on the ground as the colors begin to change, which means the “rake the leaves” task is about to find its way onto the to-do list. And though each and every solar electric system we install is carefully designed to avoid as much obstruction as possible, leaves, twigs, and even ice can reduce the efficiency of your solar panels.
Solar panels are generally made up of the solar cells themselves, mounted on a metal frame and covered with a tempered glass. Any time there is a material between the sun’s powerful rays and the glass of a solar panel, the solar cells are rendered less effective. The obvious obstructions are blowing leaves and fallen twigs. But many homeowners don’t consider pollen, dust, and ice as a threat to their clean energy!
Keep An Eye On Your Roof
You may not have had to maintain your electrical power source back before you started using the clean power of the sun. But now, your solar panels may need a little TLC come fall! As the seasons change, many solar panels require a good rinse. Particle buildup may not be visible to you from the ground (if you have a roof mounted system), but if that buildup is present it can have an affect on the efficiency of your system.
*Make sure to check your manufacturer’s provided instruction manual, or contact the solar contractor who installed your system to ensure the terms of your warranty.
Regular visual inspection of your solar panels will alert you to any larger obstructions as well, like leave buildup or fallen branches or twigs. This debris is not likely to damage your solar panels, as they are built and tested to withstand significant impact. But debris will prevent the sun’s rays from hitting the solar cells inside your panels and reduce the amount of energy that is converted to electricity.
The falling foliage can also build-up underneath a roof mounted system, which may not directly threaten your solar panels right away, but it makes your roof look much more enticing to pests. Squirrels, chipmunks and birds are always looking for a good place to start a family, and the cover of your solar panels is prime real estate when there are already leaves, twigs other debris primed for use as a home.
Cleaning Your Solar Panels with California Energy Services
If you already have the proper equipment to get on your roof, and you feel comfortable doing so, you can probably remove most debris yourself. And once you have determined the manufacturer’s recommended method of rinsing your solar panels, you may be able to do it yourself. But if you are at all unsure of what the best course of action is, or if this is your first fall and winter since you installed your system, it’s probably best to give your solar contractor a call.
At California Energy Services, we aren’t just a solar installation company. Our expertise in home performance means we are experts on the “whole house as a system”, which includes your roof. Our solar specialists can advise you on the best course of action as the seasons change, and ensure you get the most out of your solar electric system all year round!