Is it worth it?
Well 5% of my yearly FIT payments (i.e. the money we get for the electricity we generate) is about £100 and although people getting solar panels more recently will be getting much less, the savings could still be more than £700 over the 20 years (at today’s prices). So even a small increase in efficiency will be worth looking into.
What are the options?
I looked around and found a few home solar panel cleaning kits with everything you need to clean your solar panels, they were £300+.
- Solar panel friendly brush
- Extending pole to reach all the way up to the roof from the ground
- Water purifier and pump, which takes in rainwater or a connection to an outside tap and filters it and removes all the minerals and gives out ‘pure’ water.
It makes a lot of sense for window or solar cleaning companies to invest in all this but what are the options for the frugal solar panel homeowner?
Well there is another option, a DIY approach. You have to buy a few bits but they come in useful for other jobs as well.
You need the following:
- An extendable pole (with water tube inside) – Check how tall the top of the solar panels are and buy the appropriate pole and a solar Brush – that fits on the end of the pole and has attachments for the water tube (around £115)
- A Water Pump – I bought a submersible pump (this one here) so I can use it for this or to pump water from a water butt (around £60).
- Water – and this is my best find so far, instead of spending lots of money on a filter and then have to spend money on the filter material etc you can go down to your local tropical fish shop and they can give you a barrel of 25l for less than £5.
It was really quick to do. A few tips though.
- Make sure all the power is off on the panels and inverters before cleaning the panels.
- Do it in the evening after the sun has gone from the panels (so they aren’t hot) but its still light enough to see.
- Make sure you adjust the angle of the brush so its easy to clean.
- Test the water through the brush before starting to clean the panels.
Have they made a difference? Well I haven’t really noticed much difference yet, I have seen bird poo on it since though. But I will keep a close look at it, I will clean them every couple of months now I have the kit.
Should you get your panels cleaned professionally, do it yourself or not bother? I certainly wouldn’t pay £75 a year to get them cleaned over 20 years, I’ll hold judgment on the whether is is best to do the DIY version or leave alone.
Watch out for my update on this next year and what else I use the water butt pump for.