Solar power is, unsurprisingly, a popular energy source among RV travelers. Besides being the cheapest renewable energy option, it serves as an alternative energy source in case of emergencies and takes little to no time to maintain and clean too. So, how do you clean an RV solar panel?
In most cases, a bucket of warm water and soap along with a soft washcloth or sponge will get the job done. But first check with your solar panel manufacturer to see if they have specific recommendations.
Cleaning RV solar panels isn’t a complicated process. However, it’s important to make sure you’re using the right materials.
Tools For Cleaning Your RV Solar Panel
You don’t need much to clean your solar panels. The only caveat is making sure you get the right tools.
- Garden Hose & Water Source
- Streak-free Glass Cleaning Cloth OR Non-Abrasive Sponge
- Solar panel cleaner OR Light glass cleaner OR gentle dish soap
- Spray bottle (for dish soap and water mixture)
Using The Right Equipment
Thankfully, cleaning RV solar panels is a pretty straightforward process. All you really need is a garden hose, water source, and a light household cleaner or gentle dish soap and spray bottle.
There are cleaning solutions specific to solar panels available for sale at any big box hardware store. You can also use a mixture of dish soap and water if you need a more affordable option. Whichever cleaning solution you decide to use, it’s important to have a soft, streak-free cloth or non-abrasive sponge to prevent damage to the glass surface.
Think about this cleaning process the same way you would think about cleaning your car. If you wouldn’t use it to wash your vehicle, you won’t use it to clean your solar panels.
1. Spray Your Solar Panels With A Hose
Unless you’re in a heavily polluted or dusty area, you should be able to successfully clean your solar panels with just water from a garden hose. When you climb onto your RV’s roof, spray down the panels with your hose.
After spraying, check how clean the runoff water is. If the water is murky and you can still see dirt and dust on the glass panels, you can either repeat this step or use a cleaning agent or soap/water mixture in a spray bottle.
2. Use A Light Household Cleaner Or Gentle Dish Soap And Water
Sometimes bad weather or irregular cleaning can lead to dust and dirt getting caked onto your
solar panels. If this is the case, use a light household cleaner or a mixture of gentle dish soap and water in a spray bottle.
Spray your preferred cleaning solution on each panel and wipe clean with your soft washcloth or sponge. To ensure you don’t leave behind soap scum, spray the panels down with your hose one more time.
3. Wipe Dry With A Streak-Free Cloth
Depending on where you’re located, wiping the surface dry with a streak-free cloth may be necessary. Failing to wipe your solar panel dry, especially in a dusty or dirty environment will lead to immediate dirt buildup. Imagine the frustration of having to clean your solar panels all over again immediately after finishing the first time.
Be sure to use a streak-free cloth to avoid damaging the glass panels.
Additional Cleaning Tips
- Think about where you’re traveling. The frequency of cleaning your solar panels depends largely on where you are. If you’re traveling somewhere with a lot of rainfall, the rain will normally be enough. However, dusty and dry desert climates will require you to clean more often. Most RVers clean their solar panels once every couple of months.
- Only clean the glass surface. The wires underneath don’t need to be touched as the surface protects them from particles and they’re built to withstand the elements. Attempting to clean underneath can also be dangerous if not done by a professional.
- Only clean during cool times. Because solar panels depend on energy from the sun, they will get extremely hot throughout the day. The best time to clean your solar panels is first thing in the morning or in the evening after the sun has set a little bit.
- Consult a professional if you aren’t sure. Cleaning your solar panels requires you to get on the roof of your RV. If you aren’t confident about being high up or you notice something that looks questionable, consult with a professional before continuing.
Why Do I Need To Clean My Solar Panels?
Dirt, bird poop, and other particles will build up over time. In order for your solar panel to properly absorb sunlight, the glass panels need to be free of any obstructions. Keeping your solar panels clean will prolong their life and ensure you’re getting proper amperage.
What If I Have Hard Water?
Hard water contains an excess of minerals that can cause scaling on your solar panels. If you suspect your water source is hard, test it first to make sure. Hard water will need to be treated before using it to clean your solar panels. If you don’t treat the water beforehand, it can cause mineral build-up and scale on the surface.
Can I Use A Pressure Washer To Clean My Panels?
Never use a pressure washer to clean your solar panels. Because the output is so intense, using a pressure washer to clean your solar panels will risk damaging the panel.
Solar panels have become a staple energy source in the RV community and it’s important to know how to take care of them. Regular maintenance and cleaning increase the longevity of your solar panels and preserves the quality for proper amperage. The best thing about RV solar panels is the sheer easiness of cleaning them. All you need is a hose and a good washcloth and you’re good to go!