How to Turn Off Solar Panels for Cleaning (Simple Guide)

If you care about your solar panels, you would know they need cleaning on and off. This is because, over time, they may accumulate dust, dirt, bird droppings, or sap that may reduce their performance.

You must turn the system off for safety reasons to clean your solar panel. However, how do you go about doing that? How to turn off solar panels for cleaning?

You turn off solar panels by switching off the main switch at the main switchboard at your home before turning off the switches on your inverter.

Disconnect the connector from the panels to your inverter. Before starting the cleaning work, test to confirm all switches have been turned off.

This article explores how to turn off solar panels for clearing and other relevant questions. These include how to clean solar panels and why you should turn them off when cleaning them.

Should You Turn Off Solar Panels When Cleaning Them?

You should turn off your solar panel system before cleaning them. This ensures your personal safety from electric shock.

It also protects your electrical devices and appliances from being short-circuited. Finally, it is not a difficult thing to do, which means you should do it as part of the cleaning procedure.

When cleaning solar panels, you may need to climb up the roof and perform some physical labor to manually clean them. 

This can be a bit cumbersome to some people, which may lead them to wonder if they can take some shortcuts. They may decide not to turn off the solar panel system, and go straight to cleaning.

However, this is generally a bad idea. You should still turn off your solar panel systems before cleaning them for many reasons:

Preventing From Electric Shock

Solar panel systems may look innocent. They do not look like your conventional electricity switches or boards, which means they look less intimidating. 

On top of that, there are so many panels. You may think that each panel will not keep much electricity around. You may even think that since the system is earthed correctly, you would not get shocked.

Be aware! Getting an electric shock while cleaning solar panels is possible. This normally happens if the system earthing has issues due to age or malfunction. As a result, you become the earth where charges get sent through.

To prevent this, turning off the solar panels before cleaning is always a great idea.

Protecting Your Electrical Goods And Appliances

Aside from electric shock, another concern would be short circuits. This could easily ruin your electric and electronic devices and appliances if not managed properly. 

Solar panel systems are wired and built in such a way that they can handle the sun, rain, snow, etc. This means they generally are capable of handling water.

You may not want to assume this and just go ahead and clean your panels. This is because there are a lot of electrical and electronic devices in your home. 

If you are so unlucky that you triggered a short circuit or surge, your devices and appliances would ‘fry’ up and be ruined. That’s thousands of dollars of losses too.

Why risk this when you can easily turn off the switches and clean in peace and confidence?

It’s Not Very Difficult

Another reason you should turn off your solar panel system before cleaning them is because they are not hard to do. 

In many cases, turning off solar panel systems only requires flicking a few switches. These switches are normally inside your main switch box. You may have a few more on your inverters and battery packs, depending on the type of solar panel system you are using.

Turning these switches off allows you to clean your solar panels with complete ease of mind. You do not worry about being electrocuted, nor do you risk triggering a surge that may fry your home’s devices. 

How To Turn Off Your Solar Panels For Cleaning?

To turn off your solar panels, you first turn off the main and Solar AC Isolator switch. Then check your inverters to see if there are additional switches to turn off. Disconnecting the connection between your solar panels and the inverter may also be a good practice. Check to confirm before starting cleaning.

As mentioned in the previous section, turning off your solar panel systems for cleaning is not difficult. You just have to flick several switches and disconnect some cables. Get those done, and you are safe to clean.

You generally look for switches within two areas of your system, the main switchboard and the inverter. If your panel system has a battery pack, you may have to switch it off there too. 

Consider following the steps below to turn off your solar panels for cleaning. The steps below are general and may not work with your system. 

Turn off the solar panel system switches on the main switchboard first, then the inverters.

You may need to check with your solar system manufacturer or installer for the exact step to turn off your system.

On another note, it may be a good idea to record the switches you have turned off and the order. This may be a good reference when you try to turn the system back on after cleaning them.

Step 1: Main Switchboard

Start turning off your solar panel system by going to your main switchboard. Open up the switchboard cover, and locate the modules for your solar panel system.

You should see a main switch for your solar system. The switch should be clearly marked. Turn off the power supply by flicking the switch down.

Next, suppose your solar panel system has an inverter at least 3 meters (about 10 feet) away from your main switchboard. In that case, you may notice another switch beside or near the main solar system switch. 

This switch is often labeled as a ‘Solar AC Isolator.’ Turn off this switch by pulling the lever down. You may now close your main switch box and move on to your inverters.

Step 2: Inverter

The next step is to go to your inverters and identify switches to turn off. Depending on your inverter setup, you may need to do this differently.

If your solar panel setup uses a string inverter, you will likely only have a single inverter. In this case, the inverter should be installed near your switchboard. Go over there and look for a switch marked ‘PV Array and DC Isolator.’ 

The switch may generally be under the inverter. If you find this switch, flick it to the off position. Sometimes you may see two switches, one ‘PV Array’ and one ‘DC Isolator.’

If you have micro inverters, you may want to check every individual inverter and see if there are similar switches to turn off as well.

Step 3: Disconnect Solar Panels

In this step, consider going to your solar panels individually, and see if there are any cables that you can disconnect. This may be more likely if your solar panel’s system uses microinverters. 

This is because microinverters are installed at the bottom of each solar panel, meaning some connections may be present. If you identify any, proceed and disconnect the cable from the solar panels.

Step 4: Check And Confirm

Once you are done, it may be a good idea to take a tour again, from your panels to your inverters, all the way back to your main switchboard, to confirm that everything has been turned off. 

While doing that, it may make sense to also visually inspect the cables, connections, and the condition of your solar panel system to identify if any damages require attention.

Step 5: Wait For Five Minutes

The final step may not be necessary, but advisable. This could be done to allow any remaining electrical charges to dissipate or be removed. Plus, you can use this waiting time to inspect your solar system, which is also a good maintenance procedure.

How To Turn Off Your Solar Panels With Batteries?

For solar panel systems with a battery pack, you still turn it off by switching off the switches on the main switchboard and inverter. The only difference is you may have switches on your battery pack to turn off too. In this case, there should be a DC breaker switch to turn off. 

In many cases, many solar panel systems now come with a battery pack, such as a Tesla Powerwall. 

With battery packs, things may not be as straightforward. This is because even if you have switched off your solar panels, your battery may still power your home. 

It could be doing this on ‘island mode,’ where it receives no charge from the solar panel system, but still has enough power inside to run your home. This means it may not be safe enough yet. It could make sense to also turn off the battery pack.

This could be done by looking for the ‘DC Breaker’ switch on the battery pack. It may be hiding at the bottom of the battery pack. Once you find it, turn it off. 

Turn off your battery pack by turning off the ‘DC Breaker’ switch.

The switch may not be in your classic level switch style but a knob, so check your user guide to confirm how to turn it off.

What Are The Best Methods To Clean Solar Panels?

You can clean solar panels using common household cleaners, a soft brush, and a couple of microfiber cloths.

Use baking soda, toothpaste, or dishwashing liquid to clean your solar panels. For harder stains, consider using diluted isopropyl alcohol instead. Do not pressure wash solar panels.

Now that the system has been turned off, you can focus on the cleaning work. To clean solar panels, you do not need specialized cleaning equipment. 

You only need common household cleaners, some soft brushes, and a couple of microfiber cloths. 

Baking Soda

Mix baking soda with some water to form a thick paste. Spread the paste over the solar panel, and use the soft brush to brush the surface. Rinse away with water, and use a microfiber cloth to pat dry.

READ MORE: Clean Solar Panels With Baking Soda


Squeeze small dollops of toothpaste on a piece of wet, microfiber cloth. Put the cloth on the panel, and use a circular motion to apply the toothpaste on the panel. Rinse away with water, and use a microfiber cloth to pat dry. 

READ MORE: Clean Solar Panels With Toothpaste

Isopropyl alcohol

Mix one part alcohol with nine parts water in a bucket. Wet a piece of a microfiber cloth with the mixture, and wipe the solar panel. If you need a more potent mix for harder stains, make the mixture with three parts alcohol to one part water.

READ MORE: Clean Solar Panels With Isopropyl Alcohol

When cleaning solar panels, the last thing you want is to use a pressure wash to clean them. This is because solar panels can be fragile and may not withstand a pressure washer’s force. 

Once you have cleaned your solar panels, consider giving them time to dry up. Depending on the weather, this may take an hour or two to a full day. Use your judgment in this case.

How Do You Turn Your Solar Panels Back On After Cleaning?

You turn your solar panels back on by reversing what you did to turn off the system. This means reconnecting the panels to the inverter, turning on the inverter, and finally, the main switch. You may also turn your battery pack on as well.

Suppose you have finished cleaning your solar panels and figured it’s time to turn everything back on. How do you do that?

The process is similar to turning off your solar panel system. You reverse it. That means you turn on any switches from the panel before going to the inverter and, finally, the main switchboard.

Turn on switches at the panels, before the inverter, and finally, the main switchboard.

If you are careful, you may have recorded the switches you have turned off in order. In this case, you can turn back on the switches by reversing the order.

Final Thoughts

Turning off solar panels before cleaning them is a crucial step to ensure safety and avoid any damage to your system.

By following the steps above, you can safely disconnect your solar panels from the grid and clean them without any risk.

Always remember to test and confirm that all switches have been turned off before starting any cleaning work.