As your solar panels stay all year round outdoors, they are bound to pick up dirt and nasties. Generally, you can remove most stains and contaminants with water and a soft brush.
However, when there are tough stains, you may want to use a stronger cleaner to make it easier. Some may balk at using acids like vinegar, but what about alkali cleaners like bleach? Can you clean solar panels with bleach?
Using bleach to clean solar panels is generally not a good idea. This is because it is a harsh cleaner and may damage the panel’s anti-reflective coating. It may also leave a strong smell, which can trigger reactions in some people.
This article explores if using bleach to clean your solar panels is a good idea.
We also look at several other cleaning agents you can use that should be safe for your solar panels. You can then use these cleaners in case you need extra help.
Why Is Bleach A Bad Solar Cleaner?
Bleach generally does not make a great cleaner because it may be too harsh on the panels. Bleach may also damage the anti-reflective coating and steel bracketing on the panels. Finally, bleach does not evaporate fast and may leave a strong smell.
If you are thinking about using bleach to clean your solar panels, stop. It may be a bad idea, but there are many other safer options.
There are many reasons why bleach is not a good idea for cleaning your solar panels:
First, bleach is a very strong cleaning agent. It is also a strong alkali, with a pH reading of about 11 – 13. Even when watered down, it may still be a strong cleaning agent.
Aside from possibly applying too much cleaning power, the bleach may also be harsh on your skin. Using bleach to clean solar panels may be akin to butchering chicken with an axe, which is overkill.
There are better-cleaning agents out there that can clean well yet protect your panels and skin.
May Damage The Panel’s Anti-Reflective Coating
Most solar panels usually come with some sort of anti-reflective coating. These coatings help to prevent sunlight from reflecting on the panel. As a result, your panels can convert more sunlight into electricity.
These coatings are usually thin films applied on top of the silicon panels. This means they are fragile, and strong cleaners such as bleach may easily damage them.
If damaged, the film may lose its ability, meaning sunlight may reflect from the panels. As a result, your panels may not perform at their best efficiency.
This May Cause The Panel’s Steel Bracketing To Rust
Bleach is also known to cause rusting, particularly in steel. This is because bleach contains ingredients that serve as oxidants. These oxidants can eat into the steel and erode it.
Most of the bracketing that holds onto the solar panels is usually made of steel. Using bleach to clean your panels may expose your brackets to rusting. Rusted brackets may lose holding strength, increasing the risk of your panels falling off.
It leaves A Strong Smell
Bleach also leaves a strong smell. Even if you have diluted it, you may inhale enough fumes to feel nauseous. Some may start to cough and become teary-eyed.
What Are The Better Cleaners To Use To Clean Solar Panels?
To clean your solar panels, you can rely on mild cleaners such as water, baking soda, or toothpaste. When you need more cleaning power, dilute isopropyl alcohol with water at a 1:9 ratio.
Generally, water and a soft brush are all you need to clean your solar panels. However, your panels may have harder stains, such as bird dropping, oil, or tree sap.
Water may not be good enough for these nasties. However, instead of overkilling with cleaning with bleach, use these instead:
Baking soda is not a chemical-based cleaner. This means it does not rely on some chemical reactions to do the cleaning job. Instead, it is a mild abrasive, which can help with the cleaning, yet is gentle enough on the panels.
To clean your panels with baking soda, mix baking soda with some water to create a thick paste. Apply the paste over the panel using a brush or a microfiber cloth. Allowing the paste to sit for about 5-10 minutes before scrubbing lightly. Then rinse away with water before drying with a microfiber cloth.
READ MORE: Cleaning Solar Panels With Baking Soda
Toothpaste functions similarly to baking soda, but it is a less potent version. You also benefit from its more liquid mixture than powdery baking soda. This means you can apply and spread the paste easier on your panels during cleaning.
READ MORE: Cleaning Solar Panels With Toothpaste
If you need a stronger cleaning agent, you may be better off with isopropyl alcohol than bleach. This is because it does not smell and evaporates fast. You do need to dilute it, as pure alcohol can also damage solar panels.
To clean solar panels with isopropyl alcohol, Mix it with water in a 1:9 ratio. Apply the mix to the panels with a wet microfiber cloth. Use a soft brush or cloth to agitate any dirty areas before rinsing away with water.
READ MORE: Cleaning Solar Panels With Alcohol
Now you know using bleach to clean your solar panels may seem like a quick and easy solution, but it can do more harm than good.
It is best to avoid using harsh chemicals and use gentler cleaning agents that won’t damage your panels.
By using a soft sponge or cloth and a mixture of mild soap and water, you can easily clean your solar panels without having to worry about causing any damage.
In case you need extra help, several specialized solar panel cleaning products on the market are safe to use and won’t affect the performance of your panels.
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