Need Help? Call us 087 896 3069  send us an Email:

Does Dirt Affect Solar Panels’s Efficiency?

Does Dirt Affect Solar Panels?
Table of Contents

Solar panels are an important part of the renewable energy movement and it’s a buzzword at the moment with load shedding being at an all-time high in South Africa. Like any other type of equipment, they can become less and less efficient over time if they are not kept clean and well-maintained. A common question is: does dirt affect solar panels?

Many think that the main reason for solar panels not working well is because of a lack of sun, like when it’s cloudy. In actual fact, the biggest reason for solar panels being sluggish and not as efficient as they should be is because they are dirty.

Cleaning your solar panels regularly is really important for keeping a high level of solar panel efficiency. Here’s a little bit more about how to make your solar panels more efficient by making sure you minimise the impact of dust on solar panels.

How does a Solar Panel Work?

A solar panel works by converting sunlight into electricity through photovoltaic cells. When sunlight hits these cells, particles of light knock electrons free from atoms, generating a flow of electricity. This works most efficiently when sunlight can directly reach the cells – which is why dust, dirt, and debris build up on solar panels can affect their performance. 

If the solar cells are blocked by dirt, less sunlight will hit them, resulting in less electricity generated. Therefore, keeping your solar panels clean with regular maintenance is crucial for optimal efficiency. By removing dirt buildup, more sunlight can strike the photovoltaic cells unobstructed, allowing the solar panel to work at full capacity for cleaner renewable power generation.

What Can Cause a Solar Panel From Not Working Efficiently?

There are a few main reasons why solar panels can begin to work less efficiently than when they were first installed. Some of these reasons include:

  • Dirt or dust on the panels
  • A length of time with cloudy or rainy weather conditions
  • A lack of sunlight, like at night.

A common question homeowners with solar panels ask is: does dirt affect solar panels? The answer is yes – dirt buildup can greatly impact efficiency. 

As dust, pollen, leaves and other debris accumulate on your solar panels over time, it blocks sunlight from effectively reaching the solar cells. With less direct sunlight to energize the photovoltaic material, less solar electricity gets generated.

What happens is the dirt coating acts as a barrier, reducing light absorption and causing a loss of usable solar energy for your home. Over time, this debris buildup on your solar panels can cut electricity production substantially. You may think your solar system is broken when in reality the panels are just dirty!

By regularly cleaning off your solar panels, you ensure no barriers exist between the sun’s photons and the solar cells. Proper maintenance keeps your photovoltaic system running optimally for cleaner, renewable power.

How Does Dirt Affect Solar Panels?

A common question from solar panel owners is “Does dirt affect solar panels?” The answer is yes – dust, pollen, and grime building up on your photovoltaics can reduce their efficiency. All the particulate matter floating in the air eventually settles, covering the surface of solar panels. This dirt layer then acts as a barrier, blocking usable sunlight from reaching the solar cells.

With less direct light exposure, less renewable energy gets generated from the blocked photons. Nearby trees, pollution, and seasonal debris – all can contribute to dirty solar panels, cutting their productivity.

While some dust is inevitable, letting it cake on severely hampers light absorption and electricity output. By asking “Does dirt affect solar panels?” you’ve taken the first step toward proper solar maintenance. Regular washing keeps panels free of efficiency-stealing grit and grime.

How to Clean Dust Off Solar Panels?

There are two options that you, as a homeowner, have when it comes to solar panel cleaning – the DIY way or hiring a professional.

If you’re going to clean your solar panels the DIY way, here’s what you should know:

  • Cleaning panels can be done simply.
  • Make sure you have all the equipment you need before climbing onto the roof
  • Make sure the ladder to gain access to the roof is in a secure position
  • Use clean, warm water without soap or detergents.
  • You can use a soft cloth or window scraper to clean the panels with water.

If you’re going to hire a professional or company to clean your panels for you, here’s what you should know:

  • Choose a professional that is experienced in cleaning solar panels
  • Get a quote before you get them out
  • Book regular cleaning appointments to make sure that dirt and dust don’t have a chance to accumulate.

How Often Should You Inspect Your Solar Panels for Dirt?

We recommend having your solar panels cleaned at least once a year, but ideally twice a year. We recommend inspecting your panels at the beginning of every Summer and at the end of every summer to make sure they are in good working order, that there are no cracks or breaks, and that there is no build-up of dirt, debris and dust.

If you want more advice on solar panel maintenance, installation and solutions, Goscor Power Products has got you covered. Check out our range of inverters, batteries and solar panels and products now. Or request a quote online today.:

Share this post
About the author
Picture of Off Grid Power Solutions

Off Grid Power Solutions

Our team brings over 25 years of expertise in the renewable and power industry as an established online solar supplier.

Shop Our Products


Fill in the form below and our team will be happy to assist you