Total Dissolved Solids (TDS): How Does Hard Water Affect Solar Panels?

Posted on Aug 30th, 2023

In the world of solar panels, efficiency is key. These marvels of technology are designed to harness sunlight and convert it into clean, usable energy. 

However, an often overlooked factor that can impact their efficiency is the quality of the water used for cleaning and maintenance. 

Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) in water, particularly in hard water areas, can have a significant effect on the performance and lifespan of your solar panels. Let's dive in!

What are Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)?

Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) refer to the concentration of minerals, salts, and other dissolved substances present in water. When water comes into contact with the earth, it naturally picks up various minerals and contaminants. These can include calcium, magnesium, sulfates, carbonates, and more. TDS levels are typically measured in parts per million (ppm), indicating the mass of dissolved solids per volume of water.

Measuring TDS in Water

Measuring TDS in water is essential to determine its overall quality. This measurement provides insight into the purity of the water and its potential impact on surfaces, appliances, and systems it comes into contact with. TDS meters, also known as conductivity meters, are commonly used to gauge the TDS level in water. These handheld devices work by assessing the electrical conductivity of the water, which increases with higher TDS levels.

The Impact of Hard Water on Solar Panels

Hard water may sound harmless, but when it comes to your solar panels, its effects can be far-reaching and detrimental. These effects stem from the minerals present in hard water, particularly calcium and magnesium. As water with high mineral content makes contact with your solar panels over time, it leaves behind a trail of mineral deposits that can significantly impair their performance. Understanding the multifaceted impact of hard water is essential for safeguarding your solar investment and ensuring that your panels continue to operate efficiently for years to come.

An Impediment to Efficiency

One of the most significant challenges posed by hard water is the formation of mineral deposits, commonly referred to as scale, on the surface of solar panels. As water containing dissolved minerals evaporates from the panels, these minerals are left behind as residue. Over time, the accumulation of scale creates a layer that hampers the panels' ability to effectively capture sunlight. This obstruction directly translates to reduced energy conversion rates, diminishing the overall efficiency of your solar panels.

Diminished Energy Output

The presence of mineral deposits on your solar panels doesn't just hinder their efficiency; it directly impacts their ability to generate power. When sunlight is unable to penetrate the layer of scale and reach the solar cells, the energy conversion process is compromised. As a result, your solar panels produce less electricity than their optimal capacity. This decrease in energy output not only undermines your efforts toward sustainable energy but also extends the payback period for your solar system, delaying the return on your investment.

Creating Hotspots – A Source of Damage

Beyond impeding energy production, mineral deposits can create another pressing issue: hotspots. Hotspots occur when certain areas of a solar panel receive less sunlight due to the presence of scale. These shaded spots can heat up more than the rest of the panel when exposed to sunlight, potentially causing damage over time. The disparity in temperature across the panel can lead to increased stress, which in turn affects the panel's overall performance and longevity.

Impact on Longevity

The accumulation of mineral deposits not only affects the short-term efficiency of your solar panels but can also impact their long-term life expectancy. The presence of scale can potentially lead to physical damage to the panel's surface, further reducing its ability to capture sunlight. Additionally, the extra stress placed on the panels due to hotspots and decreased efficiency can contribute to wear and tear over time. All these factors combined can potentially shorten the overall lifespan of your solar panels, necessitating premature replacements.

How to Mitigate the Impact of High TDS

High Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) in water, often associated with hard water, can pose a significant challenge to the efficiency and longevity of your solar panels. However, there are effective strategies you can employ to mitigate the impact of high TDS and ensure that your solar investment continues to thrive. By taking proactive measures and adopting the right practices, you can safeguard your panels from the detrimental effects of mineral deposits and maintain their optimal performance.

Here are key steps you can take to mitigate the impact of high TDS and ensure your solar panels operate at their peak efficiency:

1. Invest in Professional Cleaning

Regular professional solar panel cleaning using low-pressure deionized water is an excellent defense against mineral deposits. These types of water have low TDS levels, reducing the risk of scale formation and maintaining the cleanliness of your panels.

2. Schedule Routine Cleaning

Establish a cleaning schedule to prevent mineral build-up. Routine cleanings with the right water quality can help remove existing deposits and prevent new ones from forming.

3. Monitor Water Quality

If you're sourcing water for cleaning yourself, consider monitoring its TDS levels using a TDS meter. This allows you to ensure the water you use for cleaning has low mineral content.

4. Apply Protective Coatings

Applying an anti-static protectant or hydrophobic coating to your solar panels can create a barrier against mineral deposits. These coatings repel dirt and water, reducing the likelihood of scale build-up.

5. Use Soft Brushes and Sponges

When cleaning your panels, opt for soft brushes, sponges, or microfiber cloths. Avoid abrasive materials that could scratch the panel's surface, as scratches can become potential sites for mineral accumulation.

6. Regular Inspection

Conduct regular visual inspections of your panels to identify any signs of mineral deposits or other issues. Early detection allows you to address problems before they escalate.

7. Consult Experts

When in doubt, seek the expertise of professional solar panel cleaners. Their knowledge and experience can ensure that the right methods and materials are used to protect your investment.

Related: Solar Safe Chemicals


As the sun's energy converges with cutting-edge technology, your solar panels stand as a gateway to a cleaner, greener future. In our exploration of the impact of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) on solar panels, we've uncovered the critical influence of water quality on the efficiency and longevity of these energy-generating marvels. Understanding the effects of TDS, particularly in hard water areas, empowers you to take proactive steps to ensure that your solar panels shine bright and perform optimally for years to come.

At Solar Soft, we understand the delicate balance between efficiency and maintenance when it comes to solar panels. Our specialized solar panel cleaning services in Florida are designed to ensure that your panels operate at their peak performance. Using deionized water and eco-friendly methods, we effectively remove dirt, grime, and mineral deposits without compromising the integrity of your panels.

Don't let hard water hinder the potential of your solar investment. Contact us at (855) 925-3267 or [email protected] to schedule a professional solar panel cleaning service. Let us help you maintain the efficiency and longevity of your solar panels while contributing to a cleaner and more sustainable future.

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