Solar lights are a great way to save money on your electric bill. They can also significantly reduce your carbon footprint. But in order for you to get the most out of them, they must be properly maintained. Solar lights might resemble ordinary porch lights (at least some models do) but have some major differences and variations.
These are things that one must understand prior to them being cleaned. With so many people beginning to boost their reliance on these lights, it’s pertinent that homeowners know what to do when they become dirty. Use the guide below to find out what items you’ll need to get your solar lights clean again. A step-by-step cleaning guide will follow, including additional info pertaining to solar lights in general. Let’s begin!
- Working Time: 8-10 hours
- Battery Type: 2200mAh rechargeable battery
Things You’ll Need to get Started
Gloves are advised for most outdoor home care activities, which doesn’t change with the cleaning of solar panels. You don’t have to go out and buy an expensive pair, either. Just an ordinary set that you already have, either fabric or latex, should suffice. They’ll keep your hands from getting icky after you’re done with the cleaning.
Look in your kitchen and see if there are any absorbent towels. You’ll need them later for drying the solar panels off. You don’t have to but it’s recommended if you end up using too much water in the process, more so for people with light that have poorly secured battery cases.
You should have a trusty washcloth at the ready during the cleaning. One should be good enough but another wouldn’t hurt, especially if you’re cleaning a lot of solar lights. Be sure that whatever washcloth you use is clean; you don’t want to keep the lights from getting as clean as they could be.
Soft Bristle Brush
Brushes are good for scrubbing away dirt that’s more stubborn to get up, things that don’t lift from the solar lights by using the washcloth.
If you’ve got a used toothbrush lying around in your bathroom or garage, go ahead and put it to use for cleaning your solar lights. Be sure that it’s not your toothbrush (or someone else’s). Having a scrubbing tool that’s small is great for getting into tight corners that a washcloth and large bristle brush won’t be able to reach.
As you might already know, distilled vinegar can alternatively be used as a cleaning product. It also mixes quite well with some compounds (more on that later) that are mild. But if you really want to keep things green around your home, cleaning with vinegar is perfectly fine.
Mild Dishwashing Liquid
Dishwashing liquid might be enough for the average homeowner to get their solar lights cleaned quickly. You could mix with vinegar as well, or try out one on your kitchen cabinet. Just don’t use such products that contain bleach.
This is useful for cleaning the glass portions of your solar lights. It’ll also keep streaks from showing after everything has dried. Streak have a tendency to allow dirt and pollen to stick to glass surfaces, which won’t occur if sprayed with window cleaner. Check the label to see if your glass cleaner contains ammonia. If so, don’t mix it with bleach or vinegar.
Since you’re going to be cleaning the solar lights, it’s a great to to clip away excessive vegetation and bush growth that obstructs light from hitting the panels during the daytime. You don’t have to do any landscaping to get this done, just a quick snip in places you know that cast a shadow over the solar lights. If you don’t want to cut anything but notice obstruction, consider moving your lights to a different location in your yard.
It’s suggested that you have a couple of spare batteries for your solar lights. Like using the hedge clippers, get into the habit of checking the batteries when you’re cleaning them. Discard the old set and place in a fresh pack if they (the old batteries) show signs of wear or leaking. But above all, remove them before you start cleaning off the solar lights, particularly if you’re afraid of the lid seeping water inside.
- Watts: 200
- Voltage: 120V
What you Shouldn’t Use
Mild to Strong Abrasive Brushes
If you use a brush that has stiff bristles, you might end up scratching the exterior of the solar panels. This includes the glass that protects the bulbs. To prevent this, never use a brush that’s highly abrasive.
Scouring powders would also scratch up the glass and exterior components of solar lights, so they’re best avoided. If you’re unfamiliar with them, they mostly act as exfoliates to whatever you clean with them. The canned Ajax brand of powdered bleach is one example of a scouring powder.
Beach is best avoided to prevent contamination of your home’s topsoil. However, you might be able to get away with using some bleach-containing products if you don’t plan on mixing it with anything other than a mild soap. Additionally, bleach cleaning is best for solar lights that aren’t pegged into the ground.
Any sort of work that you do in your front or backyard is best completed with clothing that you’re not concerned about getting dirty or permanently stained. Find any old shirts or past that you don’t wear on a regular basis, preferably loose-fitting clothes that won’t make you too sweaty.
Use the information below to help you get through the cleaning process of your solar lights quickly. It’s not a requirement for you to follow each steps that’s listed. However, try to incorporate as much as you can (using the products specified above) to finish the job.
Step 1: Find a Good time of Day to Begin
You don’t want to clean your solar lights during a time when it’s raining or dusty outside. Furthermore, check the pollen count if you have time. Pollen could cling to the surface of the lights and panels easily when it’s abundant. Ensure that you have all the items covered for you to clean. If the solar panels are all driven into the ground, you could either pull them up and clean in your home or simply leave them where they are during the washing.
Step 2: Begin Preparations by Mixing
Using one or more of the cleaning substances there where mentioned previously, begin mixing your cleaner together. Pay attention to not blend bleach with anything other than a mild soap. Alternatively, mix the vinegar and soap with warm water. Take your wash cloth and brush/toothbrush outside.
Step 3: Cut Any Obstructing Foliage
Using the hedge clippers or another pair of trimmers, clip away any loose weeds or other vegetation that’s blocking sunlight from reaching the solar lights. If you would rather not cut anything, try to position the lights a few inches away. For plants are blocking out the view from lights that are housed on a wall, fence, or post, you might have to move to a different location if large trees cast a shadow over them during the daytime.
Step 4: Clean the Solar Panels with a Brush
Begin cleaning your panels. You might need a step ladder for anything that reaches over your head. If so, use caution to get slip and fall. If you can, it’s recommended that you put down any of the light before cleaning them in this situation. Ground solar lights are much easier to deal with. Take the cloth and damp it with soapy water using more if a light is caked with dirt. When dealing with mud, switch to the soft bristle brush. After that, continue alternating between brush and cloth. Work the toothbrush into the cracks and crevices.
Step 5: Use the Washcloth
If you have another washcloth, use it to rise off the areas there were scrubbed, paying attention not to get water into the most sensitive portions of the solar lights. Try not to pour too much water on the lights themselves, running the partially soaked cloth over the light fixture and posts.
Step 6: Finish with the Glass Cleaner
Once you’ve gotten the first half of cleaning done, it’s time to move on to getting the glass in touch. Yet you could either skip this step or spray glass cleaner on a cloth and wipe it gently on the panels in front of the bulbs. Vinegar would also suffice. Don’t worry about rinsing away the glass cleaner, it will prevent streaks from showing up later.
Step 7: Dry the Panels with Absorbent Towels
When done with the windows cleaner, move on to the drying. You could skip this altogether if you want, particularly if the weather outside is hot. But it’s still a good idea to give your solar lights a once-over with them. Focus on the areas that are close to where the batteries are. You don’t have to dry the glass portions this way; allow the water to evaporate off of it naturally.
Step 8: Change Batteries (If Needed)
Now’s the time to check on the batteries. Make on-the-spot changes, especially if you’ve noticed certain lights becoming dim. Keep in mind that it could be something else entirely. For instance, a solar light that doesn’t receive the proper amount of sunlight to recharge won’t last very long during the night, before it turns off. If you’re positive the the light is bad, go ahead and switch them out for however many you need for them to function.
Here are some extra tips and frequently asked questions to make thee cleaning easier.
Do Solar Panels Need Cleaning
For the most part, you won’t have to touch the solar panels very often. That’s not to say that they shouldn’t be cleaned, however. One of the most common reasons for cleaning is an accumulation of bird droppings and pollen. If you allow grime to build up without periodically cleaning the panel, it might affect the level of electricity that’s fed to batteries. In short, check the panels at least one every one or two months.
How to Clean Solar Panels
With solar panels, you’ll want to avoid anything that’ll risk scratching the surface. Stick with non-abrasive cleaning products. You could use a brush so long as it’s not too stiff to the touch. But you might find a simple cleaning cloth more useful than anything else. Wipe down the panels with care; you don’t want to accidentally scratch or shatter the glass. Vinegar is a good substitute for soap and water. Just don’t rely on anything that scrubs the panels and they should safely come out clean.
How to Clean Solar Panels on Garden Lights
Given the fragility of garden lights, try to be extra careful with how you clean them. A toothbrush might be a good idea, especially if the lights are very small. Take a cleaning cloth and very gently wipe the sides, focusing on the areas that are rigid. These portions of the light tend to accumulate the largest amount of dust and debris. You might not need a window cleaner either, given the small (and sometimes translucent) nature of garden lights.
How to Clean Yellowed Plastic Solar Lights
Yellow Plastic Solar lights are very small and can be broken easily if you’re not paying attention. Because of this, it’s best to clean them with a damp cloth or towel, taking care to never apply liquid directly to the surface of the lights. Use a small brush (such as a toothbrush) as a secondary cleaning option if no cloth is available.
Solar Panel Cleaning Products
Here are a few products that may come in handy for cleaning solar panels:
- Non-toxic cleaners – They can come in all shapes and sizes. But one familiar aspect of such cleaners lies in the fact that they’re all mostly non-toxic.
- Distilled or Deionized water – This is water that has no mineral content. The lack of minerals in the ingredients prevent the water from scratching up the panel’s surface that is difficult to see with the naked eye.
Solar Panel Cleaning Solution
Panel cleaning solution is typically sold in a large quantity, given that most panels can be quite large. You can clean with them in a lot of ways, including by attaching the solution to a hose with another container. Many such products can also be diluted with water, or may even container water as one of the primary ingredients.
Cleaning Solar Panels with Vinegar
If you’re going to use vinegar to clean a solar panel, try adding about a 1/2 cup with a teaspoon of dishwashing soap. The soul should be mild; unscented is usually the best. Add to a spray bottle with distilled water and spray areas of the panel where dirt has accumulated.
- Active Time: 3-5 hours
- Lumen: 1,000; Color Temperature: Super Bright
Solar Panel Cleaning Tools
Here are some useful tools that you should use to get your panels in good shape:
- Squeegee – These will quickly dry up the panels after you’re done washing.
- Brushes and Poles – Large panels will easily come out clean if you use a the brush that’s made for solar panels. Most of them are very large but easy to hold with two hands.
- Ladders – A ladder will help you get as close to the panels as you can. If the panels is situated on a rooftop, only use a ladder if you’re comfortable with being several feet above ground for long periods. But if your panels are housed on posts, smaller steps (such as a stepladder) should work.
- WashCloth – The best kind to clean for this is anything that doesn’t scrub the surface, but instead wipes away the dirt from the panel. Never use ordinary cleaning brushes, especially the abrasive kind, to life up dirty from the panel. As most of the panel’s surface is smooth, debris should have no problems coming off with a good wipe-down.
Solar Panel Cleaning Brush
If you want a brush to clean your solar panels, consider getting one that’s specifically designed for them. Some brands even have nozzles that you can attach to a hose. These types are great for people that have panels too difficult or impossible for them to reach on their own. You can extend the handle until it lock to the length you need for the brush to rest directly on the area you intend to clean with it.
Solar Panel Cleaning Equipment
Cleaning equipment for solar panels can take the shape of all forms. Some of these tools are very large and operate in an identical fashion to a cleaner at a car wash. Others might be much smaller and help the users reach areas of the panels that conventional means of cleaning won’t allow them to do. Brush sizes might cover the length, which saves lots of time from not having to backtrack of wash areas (as would happen if you used an ordinary solar panel brush).
Solar Panel Cleaning Robot
Today, there are over automatic means for cleaning solar panels. Some machines are a sort of buffer, whereby the panels are wipes continuously with a buffer machine that eliminates the dirt until the entire panel is covered. If your panels are on a rooftop or installed somewhere that would be hard or dangerous for yourself to try and clean alone, automated panel cleaners are highly recommended.
Did you enjoy the article? If so, which sections are relevant to the way you anticipate cleaning your solar lights and panels? All areas were covered, from small garden lights to larger, more sophisticated rooftop panels. Cleaning panels isn’t as easy as it might look. Yes, a majority of brands and panels consist of plastic and glass but are very easy to break if carelessly handled (or in this case, cleaned).
For me, knowing what to do ahead of cleaning will ensure that your panels remain strong and durable. Remember the steps that are described in this article, and your panels will be in a new-like state for years after their purchase date. If you have any questions or additional tips, please share and comment!