Q:  I recently bought a home that came with solar panels, and a friend mentioned that I’d have to clean them. Really? How often? – Cinderella, VT

A:  Good news, Cinderelly. Your panels don’t need much at all in the way of cleaning. Rain is enough to do the trick in most areas, though a spray with the hose twice a year won’t hurt, especially if it’s been a particularly dry and dusty season. Just don’t do it during peak sunlight hours, when the panels are hot, and don’t ever walk on your panels. If you notice bird droppings sticking to the modules, knock them off with the long, round handle of a broom, or something that won’t scratch glass. And solar PV panels usually shed snow well, according to George Douglass, spokesperson for National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado, but you do live in Vermont, after all. If you’re lucky enough to have enough snow that it becomes a problem, just climb on up and give it a gentle knock with that same broom handle.

Story by Tobin Hack. This article originally appeared in "Plenty" in January 2008.

Copyright Environ Press 2008