The Benefits and Risks to Clean Solar Panels with Alcohol

Here’s the thing – solar panels get dirty. As they sit outdoors, they pick up dirt, leaves, tree sap, or bird droppings over time. Some may be washed off by rain, but some will stay. This means you need to clean them up regularly. 

Clearing solar panels is recommended, as you may improve your energy generation by doing just that. However, how do you clean one? Can you clean solar panels with alcohol?

You can use alcohol to clean solar panels. The key is to use isopropyl alcohol and to dilute the alcohol with water before using it to clean. You also want to avoid cleaning the panels with alcohol on hot days, as it may leave streaks on the panels.

This article explores if you can clean solar panels with alcohol. We also examine why alcohol makes great solar panel cleaners and how to use it to clean your panels.

Can You Clean Solar Panels With Alcohol?

You can use alcohol to clean solar panels. However, ensure that you use isopropyl alcohol and mix it with water to reduce its potency. You also want to check with your solar panel manufacturer to ensure it uses anti-reflective coatings that can handle alcohol.

First of all, if you are unsure if you can use alcohol to clean your solar panels, the answer is yes, you can. However, you want to ensure you are using the right type of alcohol. 

For solar panel cleaning, use nothing but isopropyl alcohol. Some may casually call it rubbing alcohol. This is because isopropyl alcohol is used to clean electronics and wounds, which means they are the most suitable for solar panel cleaning. 

When using isopropyl alcohol to clean your solar panels, mix it with water. This is because, on its own, isopropyl alcohol may be a strong cleaner. It may also be very expensive to use it on its own to clean solar panels. 

Finally, check with your solar panel makers. Ensure that the solar panels are coated with films that can handle isopropyl alcohol. This is because some anti-reflective coating may not stand up to alcohol well.

Why Is Alcohol A Great Solar Panel Cleaner?

Alcohol is a great solar panel cleaner because it dries quickly. It is also a great oil remover and may be strong enough to remove bird droppings and tree sap. It is also safe on the delicate PV cells on your solar panels.

There are several reasons why isopropyl alcohol makes a great solar panel cleaner:

It Is A Strong Cleaner

Isopropyl alcohol is used in many situations and industries since it is a strong cleaner and disinfectant.

You may see it used in hospitals to sanitize equipment and skin before injection. In electronics, you may see isopropyl alcohol used to clean and remove dust, debris, and dirt from electrical circuit boards.

With solar panels, isopropyl alcohol can help to remove dust, dirt, debris, and even more stubborn stains such as oil and tree sap. If regular cleaners like baking soda or toothpaste fail to clean your panels, you can always turn to isopropyl alcohol.

It Evaporates Quickly

Isopropyl alcohol evaporates quickly after being poured out, which means it is excellent as a solar panel cleaner. This is because you will not have a wet, soapy mess on your panels if you use Isopropyl alcohol.

The fast evaporation also makes cleaning easier since you do not need to spend time wiping dry your panels, compared to using soapy water, for example.

It Is Safe On Electronic Parts and Photovoltaic Cells

Isopropyl alcohol is commonly used as a cleaning solution for electronics. This is because it evaporates quickly and will not leave water inside the circuits that may cause short circuits and damage the electronics.

If isopropyl alcohol is great on electronics, it should also be great on solar panels. This is because solar panels are also sensitive electronic equipment, much like your other electronics.

How To Clean Solar Panels With Alcohol?

To start cleaning solar panels with alcohol, prepare some isopropyl alcohol, water, a soft brush, and some microfiber cloth. Mix alcohol with water before applying it to the panels.

Use a soft brush or cloth to agitate any dirty areas before rinsing away with water. Wipe dry the panels with a microfiber cloth or allow them to air dry.

To clean your solar panels with isopropyl alcohol, start by preparing the following:

  • Some Isopropyl alcohol. Look for 99% concentration if you can, as you dilute it later.
  • Water hose, to run water to the panels
  • A bucket to mix water and alcohol
  • A soft brush to lightly scrub the panels
  • A microfiber cloth to wipe and dry the panels. 

Got everything ready? Let’s get started with the cleaning work. 

  1. Start by turning off the solar panels, and ensure that it is safe to clean them. 
  2. Using a hose, rinse the panels with water. This is to remove easier stains.
  3. Next, mix up isopropyl alcohol with water. The usual ratio is 9 parts water and 1 part alcohol. If you need a more potent mix, do a 7:3 ratio mix. 
  4. Use a microfiber cloth, and wet it with the mixture. Start applying the mixture to the panels.
  5. As you apply the mixture, lightly rub the cloth on any visible stains on the panel. Use a soft brush to assist if needed. This should be enough to remove the most common stains on solar panels, such as bird droppings or oil.
  6. For tougher stains like tree sap or oil, consider applying isopropyl alcohol directly on another piece of cloth and rubbing on the stain in a slow, circular motion. 
  7. Rinse the panel with water to remove any traces of alcohol remaining. 
  8. Finally, use a microfiber cloth to wipe dry the panel. Please leave it to air dry for an hour or two before turning on your solar systems again.

Final Thoughts

Using isopropyl alcohol to clean solar panels can be an effective way to keep them clean and efficient. It is important to dilute the alcohol with water before using it and to avoid cleaning the panels with alcohol on hot days.

With proper application, cleaning solar panels with isopropyl alcohol can be a cost-effective and safe way to maintain them.