Dirty PV is like throwing money away

On a recent site visit to a large academic institution with a respected focus on sustainability, I was a little surprised at how dirty their PV panels were ... on a return visit a couple of months later, they were still very dirty, and staff were not aware they had ever been cleaned.

Renewable projects are typically big investments and lack of simple maintenance like cleaning, is a bit like throwing money away.

It is important to clean PV panels because dirt, dust, and other debris can reduce their efficiency. The amount of dirt that can build up on solar panels depends on the location, but it can be significant in areas with a lot of dust or pollution.


  • Efficiency. Dirty solar panels can lose up to 25% of their efficiency. This means that they will generate less electricity, which can impact your savings on your energy bills.
  • Lifespan. The build-up of dirt and debris can also shorten the lifespan of solar panels. By cleaning them regularly, you can help them last longer.
  • To prevent damage. Dirt and debris can also scratch or damage solar panels, which can lead to leaks or other problems. By cleaning them regularly, you can help protect them from damage.
  • To improve their appearance. A clean solar panel system will look better and be more aesthetically pleasing.

How often should PV panels be cleaned?

The frequency of cleaning solar panels depends on several factors, including the location, the type of panel, and the amount of dirt and debris that builds up. In general, it is a good idea to clean them at least once a year. However, you may need to clean them more often if they are in an area with a lot of dust or pollution.

Effective monitoring of energy generation could be used to highlight drop-offs in generation, even considering weather conditions.