Cleaning is essential for running and maintaining the solar system:

Especially, in the dry season the solar system operator or manager has to clean the panels once every week! Because, anything that accumulates dirt on them (e.g. dust or pollen), needs to be removed. However, in the rainy season, but only when the rain is very strong, it washes the dirt off the panels as well. That is why you have to clean your Panels less frequently, but still once every month!

How to clean solar panels:

The best way is to name one responsible person in the institution or company to clean the panels and monitor this via a cleaning schedule. You could also hire a professional cleaner. Make sure that the solar operator or solar manager has all necessary tools for cleaning: A swab/sponge, bucket, ladder and helmet for security reasons. It is very important that you only use water and no soap for cleaning! Make sure that the there are no tiny stones in the bucket or at the swab/sponge as you do not want to scratch the panels in any way. Keep in mind that you should not use any type of high-pressure water sprayer for washing off your solar panels. A high-pressure attachment can damage the solar panels themselves.

Maintenance by cleaning the panels:

Dirty Panels decrease the output of your solar panels and they are the main reason for permanent battery damages in Liberia. As dirty panels are not able to fully charge the batteries, the state of charge of the batteries particularly in the night drops below a certain level which damages the batteries. In order to guarantee a long life of the battery bank we need to make sure that the batteries keep a certain state charge (depending on the battery type). Lastly, it is a pretty small transaction, energy-wise and cost-wise, to climb up on a ladder, get on your roof, and clean your solar panels yourselves. So make sure that you maintain your solar system by cleaning the panels on a regular basis.


Charles N. Ellis and Joseph Forte are cleaning the PV Panels on the roof of the EnDev office in Congo Town