Why Your New Solar Array Should Come With Automated Panel Cleaning

Is installing solar power worth it? 

Powering your home with solar is not only great for the environment, but it will also drastically reduce your monthly utility bill, and can even improve the resale value of your property. And now that the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has been signed into law, the cost of installing a solar array is cheaper than ever. But before making this important life decision, there’s a few things that you should know about owning solar panels that will undoubtedly influence your purchase and installation decisions.

FACT: Solar panels need to be cleaned.

Despite what you may hear, solar panels are not maintenance free and do require regularly scheduled cleaning. Over time, a combination of airborne pollution and dust buildup (often referred to as soiling) can block the light of the sun, lowering solar energy production by up to 30%.

Soiling is a serious problem, and cleaning can be a hassle. You might be wondering why it isn’t discussed more frequently. Perhaps you’ve been told that the rain would keep your panels clean.

FACT: Rain can make soiling worse.

Contrary to popular belief, relying on rain keeping your panels clean is not sufficient; not only is the weather unreliable, but studies show that rain can actually worsen the effects of soiling, making the grime much more difficult to remove.

If you let your panels get dirty, you’re losing out on money. Ignoring dirt on your solar panels is like ignoring rain on your windshield – it is downright irresponsible. But be careful; improper cleaning methods can void panel warranties. After a quick google search on the hidden hazards involved in manual solar panel cleaning you’ll understand why it’s best to leave the cleaning to a professional. But even then, relying on a cleaning service is far from ideal.

FACT: Manual cleaning comes with the risk of underperformance and liability.  

There are many aspects of traditional solar panel cleaning that can add complexity and risk. Traditional processes tend to involve technicians with busy schedules, abrasive chemicals, and risks of human error. And with labor comes liability – the more people you have on your roof, the greater the potential for injury, damage, and added costs.

Cleaning timing matters, too. Professional panel cleaning is usually performed during the day, and applying cold water to hot glass can cause your panels to crack. To avoid damages such as thermal stress and limescale buildup, panels need to be cleaned at the extreme ends of the day and with soft water. It’s also worth noting that your panels will get dirty between cleanings, resulting in underperformance.

How do I maximize solar production?

The answer is simple – keep your panels clean all the time by installing a fully automated solar panel cleaning system along with your solar array. There are numerous benefits to automated solar cleaning systems. For starters, this will ensure that you’re maximizing the production of your solar array from day one while protecting your panel warranty. The financial benefits of this performance boost will help lower the cost of installation and life-long maintenance fees.

Don’t get pressured into oversizing your system.

When planning a solar array, it is common for installers to  account for several losses –  the most severe being soiling losses. They often accept these losses as unavoidable and choose to oversize your system in order to ensure the production projections are attained despite these “inevitable” losses.

The truth is, soiling losses are not a given. You just need the right technology.

With an automated cleaning system like RST NightWash™, you can keep your panels clean all the time thereby maximizing your system’s production and eliminating the need to purchase unnecessary extra panels. This can lead to thousands in savings at the point of installation.

Lower life-long operating costs by avoiding costly manual cleaning

Manual cleaning fees quickly add up over time. Depending on cleaning frequency, regular manual panel cleaning services can range from thousands to tens of thousands of dollars a year. RST NightWash™ removes the need for this expensive and risky cleaning labor, operating in accordance with manufacturer recommendations. This means you don’t have to worry about losing out on any warranties due human error.

An automated system is designed to give you true hands-off peace of mind. Forget wasting time on scheduling, paying for labor, or worrying about solar panel damage or human safety hazards; using your smartphone, you can easily schedule your system to clean at night to avoid the thermal stress caused by spraying cold water onto hot solar panels.

Talk to your installer.

Solar manufacturers currently don’t offer automated solar cleaning solutions, but they should! When you’re discussing your next solar project, let your installer know that you don’t want to waste money on oversizing the solar array because you’ll be contacting RST CleanTech to ensure that your system avoids soiling losses.


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