Do I Need to Turn off Solar Panels to Clean Them?
solar panel installation

Do I Need to Turn off Solar Panels to Clean Them?

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Do I Need to Turn off Solar Panels to Clean Them?

How long does it take before solar panels get dirty? Many people assume that the rain will do the cleaning for them, this is not always true. Additionally, did you know that dirt can cause your solar panels not to function properly? Besides the obvious effect of shading the solar panels from the sun, dirt can get into the wiring of your solar panel and cause permanent damage. The dirt and debris that will accumulate on your panels will include bird droppings, leaves, pollen grain, and dust. You may be wondering how often you should clean your solar panels. The recommended number is twice or once yearly.

If your panels keep compounding dirt, you must clean them regularly. When bird droppings and leaves compound on your panels, they will hinder capturing of sunlight. When it comes to cleaning, you need to put on protective gear and follow safety precautions. Throughout the rest of this article I will give you all the information you need to know about how to clean your solar panels and whether or not you need to turn them off during the cleaning process. If you would like to read my previous article on whether or not you can use a power washer to clean your solar panels click here

 

Do I Need to Turn off Solar Panels to Clean Them?

The first safety precaution for cleaning solar panels is shutting down the solar power system. A solar panel system has two electrical components, DC and AC. The AC is connected to the input, while the DC is connected to the main house and the grid. It is highly recommended that when you are cleaning your solar panels you turn off the system to be as safe as possible. 

It is important to test live current using a voltmeter before cleaning. In my professional opinion the best voltmeter to use is the AstroAI Multimeter. It is reliable and easy to use. Here are the steps you should take to switch off your solar panel system prior to cleaning.

Solar Panel Shut Down Instructions

  1. Go to the switchboard, locate the solar panel’s main switch and switch it off.
  2. If the solar inverter is three meters away from your switchboard, find the switch-marked solar AC isolator. It will be next to the inverter. If the switchboard and inverter are three meters from each other, you can disregard this step.
  3. Go to the inverter and look for the switch with the marking DC isolator and PV Array. Flick the switch off (if you find two switches turn them both off).
  4. Your inverter will have a switch with the label Inverter Isolator. Turn this off. If you do not see this switch on the inverter, disregard this step. After following the above steps, the solar panel system will be completely off. You can now do your cleaning.
  5. To restart your solar panel, follow these steps in reverse. You will turn on the DC isolator first, then turn on the AC isolator. After that, turn on the solar supply main switch.

The steps above are for solar panels connected to a grid system. If you have battery storage or are off-grid, you will turn off the DC breaker of the combiner box. Also be sure to turn off the DC breaker found on the battery storage.

Cleaning the Solar Panels

 

You will follow the above steps each time you want to inspect or clean your solar panels. To know the safety features and how to shut down the solar panel, read about the inverter and charge controller in the manual.

The steps mentioned here are guidelines for switching off a solar panel. Your specific solar panel might contain a slightly different configuration for shutting down. Please make sure you read the safety and owner’s manual for your specific solar panel system before shutting it down. Safety is our number 1 priority here at Solar Sena and we want to make sure that you are taking every necessary precaution before doing something that could be potentially dangerous.

Installing solar panels

What Will Happen If I Clean my solar panels when they’re on?

If you clean the solar panels when the current is on, you could be electrocuted. This is why it is extremely risky to clean your panel when the current is still flowing. Remember, solar panels create DC ( direct current) electricity. You could be electrocuted and unable to pull away from the current. You will be unable to get away because the DC is continuous. Many people who clean their solar panels do not understand this. You cannot switch the solar panel by only switching off the inverter. After doing this, the panel will still have an electric current flowing through it. Therefore the risk of electrocution is still there.

If your solar panels are not appropriately earthed, you will get an electric shock. Also, it is difficult to notice if the wiring underneath your solar panels has faults. It can cause arcing, which can damage your solar panels. It is not easy to see if your solar panels are broken when cleaning from the lower (ground) level. Therefore, if you spray water on the panels, you will get electrocuted. If you clean the solar panel when the current is on, you risk electrocution. Electrocution has adverse health effects such as brain damage and paralysis. Therefore, it is important to switch the solar panel off before you start cleaning them. If you are at all concerned that you are not properly turning off your solar panels it is very important that you hire a professional cleaning service that specializes in solar panel cleaning to come and do the work for you. 

 

Effect of DC/Solar Panel Electrocution on Your Body

DC electrocution will make your muscles contract. It is why many people are unable to let go or pull away when being electrocuted. As a result, the following things will happen to your body. The electrocution will cause the heart to fibrillate. The muscle of the heart will move independently instead of a synchronized movement. This is extremely dangerous and you should be very cautious when deciding to clean your solar panels yourself. If you are confident in your abilities that is fine, if not, please use a professional service that knows what they are doing. 

Frequently Asked Questions?

Can solar panel electrocution kill me?

Yes, it can. Solar panels produce an electric current and if it is faulty, you can be electrocuted and the shock could kill you. If it does not kill, you could suffer from paralysis, cardiac arrest, and brain damage.

What precaution should you take when you are around solar panels?

Solar panels are very safe; however, if you see sparks, smoke and fire, move to a safe location right away. If your backyard has a PV array, ensure the array is at least four to six feet away from where people or pets might go.  

Are solar panels dangerous?

Solar panels are potentially dangerous. Remember, everything that allows or uses electricity is potentially dangerous if used in an inappropriate way. When you are working on your solar panels be sure to follow all owners manual instructions.

 

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, if you want to clean your solar panels, you will need to shut down the system first. If you do not adhere to this safety precaution before cleaning, you can be electrocuted. Electrocution has adverse health effects such as paralysis, nerve damage, and cardiac arrest. Therefore, kindly turn off your solar panel system before cleaning.

 

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