Cleaning Solar Panels Is It Even Necessary

Cleaning Solar Panels Is It Even Necessary


In a study conducted in Spain, the researchers measured an average reduction in performance of just 4.4% after a year of dust accumulation. More solar Panel owners could probably live with that amount, but the study also found that “long periods without rain, daily energy losses can be over 20%”.1 So in dry climates like Nevada, Arizona, and Utah, where dust buildup is the main problem, the problem remains simple: a lack of rain leads to dust buildup that gets progressively worse as you go. and as the dry period lasts.


Meanwhile, regular rains can wash off the dust and keep solar panels producing approximately 95% of their maximum capacity. You might assume solar panels in climates with frequent rainfall would require less maintenance, but not so fast! Most of the time, it’s not just dust in the equation. Pollen, bird droppings, leaves, ash, and a hazy film can form when smog or smoke is heavily present in the atmosphere. All of these natural elements combine into a layer of surface dirt, which may or may not be washed away by rain. A report of Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews2 deepens the complex variables involved. Research concludes by allowing rain to do the cleaning job solar panels is a good decision if you live in the right place, for example:


  1. A place where dust makes up most of the buildup that forms on solar panels
  2. A place where the composition of the dust is such that rain will effectively wash it away
  3. A place where it rains at the right frequency to prevent dust accumulation from depleting the energy production of solar panels

Think about it: if rain really was an effective cleaning method, then why is the car wash everyone’s first stop when a downpour ends? With the wrong combination of pollutants, a little rain might not clean anything. It could become the basic ingredient combining a collection of contaminants into a porridge.


Example: the story of a customer living in a temperate rainforest where the climate completely rules out dust as a problem. Three years after installing their solar panels, they noticed a 10% drop in performance. When they called the local installers to ask about cleaning services, they got a standardized answer about how the frequency of rainfall in their area should prevent any significant buildup from forming. However, when a window washer they hired went to clean their panels, he found a sticky brown haze that probably wouldn’t wash off in the rain. After the panels were cleaned, the owner said productivity increased by 20%, exceeding their original production level by 10%!3

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