Dust and ash dragging down energy production from many Valley solar panels

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The amount of energy generated by solar panels can take a hit if you don't keep them clean.

Dylan Aust of Primetime Services has long been drawn to dirty solar panels. He showed us some at an East Central Fresno home which hadn't been cleaned in a year.

Aust said, "This is pretty much agricultural dust from the harvesting and stuff like that. We live in the Valley, so this is a typical problem we see."

When he sprayed the panels with de-ionized water and scrubbed them, the results were dramatic. Neighbors noticed Dylan up on the roof, so some stopped by to say they needed some cleaning work done as well.

Kent McAvoy of Fresno said, "Oh they're horrible. They're full of dirt especially out here in the country. A lot of dust."

Sparkling clean solar panels not only improve the curb appeal of your home, but McAvoy also noted the jump in solar energy production.

"Yeah, it's probably about 10%. It's dramatic. They need to be cleaned at least every three months or so."

Aust said most people don't have their solar panels cleaned that often but they should. He's found some neighborhoods are dirtier than others. But Dylan also identified another factor. "I've seen the panels a little bit more dirty because of the fires."

He added an occasional rainstorm doesn't thoroughly clean your panels, and after a thorough cleaning, you could enjoy a boost in solar energy production.

Aust estimated, "We see roughly a 15 to 30% increase in the output of the solar panels after they've been cleaned."

PG&E recommended you clean your panels at least once a year to help maintain their output potential.
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