Once the solar panels are installed, everyone should feel that is the end of the story. But, the reality is the story has just begun. Initially, you would not require much cleaning for the solar panels. If the rainy season is about to begin, you are lucky—the rainwater flushes out all the dirt. But, going forward, you would need to clean them now and then because of the debris and dirt accumulation and bird droppings.
Can you clean solar panels with Windex? Yes. You can use Windex for cleaning the solar panels. Windex is a cleaning product specifically made for glasses. It is preferred over other cleaning products because they are ideal for maintaining the glass-covered solar clean and working at optimum efficiency.
In this article, let us discuss more the quality of Windex, why it is best to use them to clean solar panels, and how to use them for cleaning.
Why Is Windex considered the best for cleaning the solar panels?
Windex is an all-purpose cleaning agent which removes the burned-on grime. The standard cleaning practice includes soapy water and a hose to wash away dirt does not eliminate the blockages. Windex combines several cleaning agents to solve even the most challenging dirt problems. Let us look at the quality of the cleaning agents and how it helps Windex clean effectively.
Ammonia, also known as Ammonium hydroxide, is one of the most commonly used cleaning agents in all households, and it is the primary component of Windex. It is best known for its quality of being an independent cleaning agent, and it does require any additives to clean even the rough surfaces.
Though the smell is powerful, you won’t feel it much outdoors. It has a pKa value of 13.7, which helps the Windex react quickly with the acidic composition of birds droppings, grease, pollen, and other biological contaminants. This component is found in all kinds of Windex because it is inexpensive.
Isopropanolamine is an essential component of the Windex. Ammonium hydroxide helps clean away even the most rigid surface, but it does not remove the crucial elements like soap scum.
Have you washed your solar panels with soap before? Then, the ammonia won’t work well in removing the scum. To solve this problem, the Isopropanolamine counter reacts with contaminants, including the soap scum, directly and also strives to maintain the basic pH.
Ammonia and Isopropanolamine are an excellent team to put down any kind of material buildup on your solar panels.
2-Hexoxyethanol is the final component of the trio composition of the Windex. The chemical component of 2-Hexoxyethanol is similar to ethanol, which is also the common household disinfectant. Its primary role in Windex is to prevent the water from combining with debris and dirt.
Precautionary steps to take while cleaning the solar panels with Windex
Though there is a weather-resistant shield and the electrical components are well protected by the outer layer, you need to follow the necessary precautionary measures.
Avoid Rough Scrubbers
Rubbing the surface of the solar panels with scrubbers is the worst thing that you can ever do. The solar panel’s glass is thin and delicate to allow the light to pass through them, and it cannot withstand scratches. The performance of the solar panels with scratches deteriorates in the same way if there is dirt and debris accumulated in them.
You need to avoid using the steel wool, sponges, and even scrubbers tagged as “No Scratch” to prevent the solar panels from all sorts of damage. Instead, you can use a soft sponge, mop, or a clean rag.
Verify the materials in the solar array
The Windex cannot be used on certain surfaces, including plastic. Though most solar panels come with a clear glass covering, there are specific panels in which there is a plastic coating over the glass.
In such cases, you need to check if the panels have a plastic coating before using the Windex. If not, you might discolor the panel’s surface and affect the durability and efficiency of the solar panels.
Personal Safety Precautions
Before you begin the cleaning process, make sure you wear gloves and masks. The Windex, in general, is not harmful if used in appropriate proportion. But, there is always a risk that you might spill it. In that case, it may damage your eyesight and skin. Wash your eyes thoroughly if you spill any of the cleaning agents.
How often should I Clean My Solar Panel?
Industry experts suggest that the generally accepted principle is that solar panels need to be cleaned once every six months. Early autumn and late spring are the best time to clean your panels. But, if you live in an area where the climate is very smoggy and harms the panels, you might need to clean them more often.
What are the alternatives to Windex?
There are several alternatives to Windex, which have total pros and cons to offer. We need to review them in detail before choosing one for cleaning our solar panels.
You need to consider the size and location of your array before choosing one of the alternatives.
Hose rinsing is the simplest way to clean your solar panels. While rains do the cleaning job in sure others, in the areas where is the climate is dry and hot, you need to clean them to get rid of the accumulated dirt and debris.
The splash of water from the hose is enough to do the job for you.
A simple mix of soap and water with a mop and bucket would make the job more straightforward for you. Though it is not as effective as a Windex, it still serves the best purpose.
The major limitation of using soapy water is, the soap may form a layer on the solar panels over time and may require additional cleaning from your side. Well, that is not a big concern to avoid this alternative.
Combing ¼ cup of vinegar with ½ teaspoon of non-abrasive soap along with two cups of water is one of the best alternatives to the Windex. Vinegar is a natural cleaning agent and works best for cleaning glass.
The water gives an excellent foam to your mix. You can pour the mixture into a spray bottle and use them on the surface of the solar panels.
What cleaning materials should not be used to clean the solar panels?
There are commonly mistaken cleaning materials which you must never use on the surface of the panels, and let us look at what those are.
Hard water has high levels of magnesium and calcium. Tap waters are the best example of hard water. Though they are entirely safe for humans, they might leave mineral deposits on the surface of the solar panels. This, in turn, might reduce the panels’ productivity in the long run.
How do you know whether your tap water is hard or not? You can get it confirmed by testing your tap water in the local lab for a small fee. You can also install a softener or reverse osmosis system to convert hard water to soft.
Powerwashing may look so appealing that they make the work easier. While it can clean up the dirt and debris quickly, there is always the risk that the force could damage the panels.
Scrubbing with an Abrasive Tool
Scrubbing the solar panels with abrasive tools is an unhealthy practice, and they may create scratches and reduce the productivity of the panels. If you need to brush up your solar panels, you can use a soft cloth or a brush.
When to Call a Professional to Clean Your Solar Panel?
Though Windex gives you an option for self-cleaning at ease, you might require the services of professionals at certain times.
Large commercial Panels
If you have set up large commercial panels or a solar farm, it is impracticable to clean them by yourself. Getting the help of professionals saves you time and makes sure that the panels are safe.
We all have age and physical limitations. As we grow up, we might not do the same things that we were doing previously. In that list, cleaning solar panels would require climbing up the ladder and holding heavy materials. If you are old enough, you cannot do them independently. It is better to get the help of professionals.
Time and Money
Sometimes, to get things done at your convenience, you may just call the professionals for a fee and complete the job. An experienced cleaner would undoubtedly charge you high, but the work gets over so quickly. Time and money go hand in hand.
Windex is undoubtedly one of the best cleaning agents to use for solar panels. Especially for self-cleaning, it is handy and makes the work easy. Please do remember the precautions that you must take before using them.
If Windex does not suit you, you may choose any alternatives to do the job for you. We would always recommend you consult a professional to do the cleaning job for you as it deals with various chemicals.