Solar Panel Maintenance Cost

Having solar panels in your home doesn’t end with just installing them, maintenance and repair costs are two other key factors that will ensure that your solar system continues to work at its maximum efficiency. Though solar panels require very little maintenance, they should still be cleaned once or twice a year1 to prevent them from producing less electricity than it should. However, more regular cleaning may be required, maybe every three to six months, in places with high levels of dust, debris, or pollution.2

The cost of maintaining solar panels ranges from $150 – $3303 when done annually.  

The final cleaning expenses can vary based on several factors, such as location, house elevation, roof angle, and the specific configuration of your setup. For a 2 kW PV system comprising 10 units, anticipate a cost ranging from $150 to $330.4 Cleaning a 20 panel 3 kW system will cost on average, $500 to $750.

How much to maintain solar panels?

It depends if you are going to seek professional help or just do it by yourself. Based on research, you’ll spend $150 to $330 to clean your solar panels with professional help. Also, studies found that professional cleaning of panels produces a higher output of electricity than those cleaned by rain.

The total price of maintenance still depends on a number of factors. Below are some factors that influence the cost of solar panel maintenance:

  • The number of panels
  • Brand
  • Condition of the panels, whether they have any damages that require repair
  • Where it’s placed. If it’s placed on a very high roof it will cost more
  • Surrounding environment

You can also check with your manufacturer for recommendations for cleaning your solar panels as they know their product better than anyone else and also prevents you from voiding their warranty.

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Solar panel cleaning prices

Solar panel cleaning prices also depend on many factors: the number of solar panels, the location of their installation, and how many kW your solar system has.

For a 2 kW system with 10 solar panels, it will cost around $150 to $300. For higher kW and the number of solar panels, it will be more expensive and cost around $300 to $400. Some companies, however, charge cleaning per panel, which costs around $3 to $10 4 each.

It is recommended that you have your solar panels cleaned biannually. If your panels are easy to reach, then cleaning them yourself wouldn’t be a bad idea. However, if your panels are placed on a very high and steep roof, it’s best to contact a professional to prevent you from any risk.

How often and what should I use to clean my panels?

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You should clean and maintain your solar panels once or twice a year. As suggested, there are specially made tools for cleaning panels. Though you can just use plain old soapy water, a soft brush, a squeegee, a garden hose, and a microfiber cleaning cloth to clean it, you can also purchase a solar panel cleaning kit5 that contains all of the things above.

There’s also a solar panel brush, window washer, and solar panel cleaning solution available to purchase, which is a good investment since you will no longer need a professional to do it. While cleaning them yourself might become a little bit dangerous, it pays to assess if you can really do it yourself. Always remember that your safety should be your number one priority.

Here are some useful steps on how to clean your solar panels if you decide to DIY:

⦁   Check the manufacturer’s manual: This will help you know how to turn off your system before cleaning. Recommendations are also written in detail in the manual for cleaning your solar panels.

   Pick a cloudy day to clean your panels: A cloudy day will be a more efficient day for cleaning since water won’t evaporate fast and dirt won’t coat or stick to your panels which makes it harder to clean.

⦁   Turn your solar system off: This is the step you shouldn’t miss because cleaning while your system is on will cause damage to it.

⦁   Check and inspect for cracks: Don’t clean these cracks with water since it may damage your system. Call a professional to inspect and conduct repairs.

⦁   Get all dirt and debris out: Clean off the leaves or any loose debris before rinsing with water.

⦁   Clean with soapy water or vinegar solution: It’s important not to use chemical solutions when cleaning your solar panels since they will do more harm than good. Spray the panels and use a cloth or solar panel brush to clean them.

⦁   Rinse and dry: Rinse your panels with water and dry afterwards. Don’t forget to dry the edges!

⦁   Monitor your solar system: Check whether the output increases after cleaning. If it didn’t, there might still be some residue, and you may need to call a professional to inspect it thoroughly. If it does, then you did great!

   Additional tips: If your solar panels are obstructed with snow, don’t clean them yourself, as experts suggested. Sweeping the snow may cause permanent damage to your panels. You can just wait for it to melt on its own or invest in a good snow rake and take extra precautions going up to your roof.

DIY cleaning vs hiring a professional

Others recommend that cleaning solar panels can be done by the owner, some do recommend that hiring a professional is the best route.

DIY will incur less cost and you can use tools you already have at home. If your solar panels are on the ground, doing it yourself is a great option. As far as professionals are concerned, they actually invest in the best tools and safety gear to clean your solar panels. Also, they are not just there to clean but also to inspect for cracks, peeling, and other things that can hinder your system from performing at its best.

They can recommend repairs and replacements if necessary. It will also cause less stress and peace of mind on your part since a trained professional will do it for you. Most importantly, hiring a professional is for your own safety.

Annual inspections and repairs

Annual inspections and repairs are usually covered by your warranty aside from cleaning. If your solar panels are not producing a specified level of your manufacturer’s guarantee, repairs will be covered by warranty. Some companies will cover installation and maintenance repairs for 10 to 25 years, depending on your warranty agreement. Labor warranties are also covered by this. As long as you didn’t do anything to void your warranty, like having another company for service or installation rather than having your manufacturer, you will be serviced by your manufacturer.

Here are the typical costs of repairing6 your solar panel :

  • Cracked panels will take about $100 to $400
  • Broken glass will take about $20 plus labour and $350 for replacement
  • Loose wiring or connection will take about at least $100

These are just an estimation and will ultimately be dependent on your manufacturer, as they are factors to consider as well for the repairs such as;

  • The brand.
  • Orientation (Flat or tilted panels.
  • Location of your panels – Solar panels are located on the roof or in the ground. Solar panels that are on the roof will most likely cost more.
  • The steepness of your roof – depends if your roof is harder to reach.
  • Quantity and size of your arrays – the more and bigger they need to clean, the higher it will cost you.
  • Time since last clean – if you cleaned your solar panels two or three years ago, it will cost more since more supplies and time will be needed to clean them.
  • Maintenance agreement – the cost will be less if you opt for a bundle for cleaning and maintenance upon purchasing a solar system.

Replacements

A replacement will occur if your system falls in these circumstances:

  • After inspection, they are broken beyond repair.
  • They are physically damaged and can’t be used even after replacing the parts.
  • Your panels don’t produce the energy it should.
  • Natural calamities caused damage to your system.

Upgrade costs

There are several upgrades you can add to your system that are worth looking into. As time goes by, several improvements and enhancement have already been made to solar technologies. Here are a few:

⦁   Solar skin design – these will allow you to customize the look of your solar panels. The colour and appearance can be made to match the look of your roof to be aesthetically pleasing. These cost around 10 percent of the cost of your entire system, they also have warranties that last about 10 to 25 years.

⦁   Solar tracking ground mounts – the solar panels will follow the sunlight to produce more energy. It can tilt and shift depending on where the sun is pointing at. For the addition of a tracking system to an existing setup, the cost per panel ranges from $500 to $1000. If you’re opting for a new solar system equipped with a tracking device, the overall cost varies between $4,000 and $30,000, depending on its size. Please note that these figures do not encompass installation expenses and ongoing maintenance 7

⦁   Sprinkler-based solar cleaners – these are installed near your solar panels to be programmed to clean your panels. Refilling and replacing water filters are the things you’ll need do to maintain them which requires little effort and time. These cost around $2260 for around 50 panels.

⦁   Cleaning robots – these robots can wash your solar panels every day without the use of water. They use microfiber cloths to wipe off dust and dirt. One robot is equal to one solar panel and there’s no need to charge them as they run using solar energy as well. Approximately, you’ll need around a little less than three grand to purchase 10 or more sets of these cleaning robots.

In conclusion, solar panels are easy to maintain. As long as you have a good warranty from your solar manufacturer, you will be fine. Cleaning and maintaining your solar system will help them function with high efficiency for many years to come. It will make a huge difference as opposed to not cleaning them. The most important thing to remember is your safety. If your solar panels are on the roof and it’ll be hard for you to reach them, please don’t risk it. You might spend more if you wind up in a hospital injured. Call and hire a professional to do it for you or install cleaning robots or sprinkler-based solar system if you are willing to spend extra depending on which ones are more suited for you.

7 Sources

1. Jackie Lam & Erin Gobler, (2024), Solar Panel Maintenance Guide: Keep Your Panels Clean, Accessed on 30 Jan 2024. https://www.cnet.com/home/energy-and-utilities/solar-panel-maintenance-guide-how-to-clean-and-repair-solar-panels/

2. Akshay VR, (2023), Why Solar Panel Cleaning Matters and How to Do It Properly, Accessed on 30 Jan 2024, https://arka360.com/ros/solar-panel-cleaning-guide/#:~:text=Solar%20panels%20should%20be%20cleaned,dust%2C%20debris%2C%20or%20pollution.

3. Renogy, (2021), ​Solar Panels Maintenance, Accessed on 30 Jan 20204, https://au.renogy.com/blog/solar-panels-maintenance/

4. Fixer.com, (2022), How much does it cost to maintain your solar panels?, Accessed on 30 Jan 2024, https://www.fixr.com/costs/solar-panel-maintenance#:~:text=The%20average%20cost%20to%20clean,pay%20between%20%24150%20and%20%24330 .

5.Solar living savvy, (2024), 6 Steps To Clean Your Solar Panels, Accessed on 30 Jan 2024, https://solarlivingsavvy.com/how-to-clean-solar-panels/#:~:text=You%20can%20clean%20your%20solar,should%20hire%20professional%20cleaning%20services.

6. GTF Power Solar, (2024), cost of solar, Accessed on 30 Jan 2024, https://gtfpower.com/cost-of-solar

7. PLICO team, (2023), Are solar power tracking system worth it?, Accessed on 30 Jan 2024, https://www.plicoenergy.com.au/blog/solar-panel-tracking/