Solar Panel Maintenance Cost
Having solar panels in your home doesn’t end with just installing them, you need to keep in mind that maintenance and repairs will come into play to ensure that your solar system continues working at its maximum efficiency. Though solar panels require very little maintenance, they should still be cleaned once or twice a year to prevent them from producing less electricity than it should.
The cost of maintaining solar panels ranges from $150 – $330 when done annually. This estimate is based on a 5kW solar system with 16 solar panels.
The cost will still depend on the type and number of solar panels you have, its condition, and where its placed.
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 out 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
- 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.
Solar panel cleaning prices
Solar panel cleaning prices also depend on many factors: how many your solar panels are, where the panels are placed, and how many kW your solar system has.
For a 2kW 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 each.
It is recommended that you have your solar panels cleaned bi-annually. If your panels are easy to reach, then cleaning it yourself wouldn’t be a bad idea. However, if your panels are placed on a very high and steep roof, it’s best if you contact a professional so you don’t risk your safety.
How often and what should I use to clean my panels?
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, squeegee, garden hose, and a microfiber cleaning cloth to clean it, you can also purchase a solar panel cleaning kit 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 cool 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 hurt 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 in 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 it.
⦁ Rinse and dry: Rinse your panels with water and squeegee them dry. 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 opposed to a professional, 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 inspect for cracks, peeling, and other things that can hinder your system from performing 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. In the event that 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. Labour warranties are also covered by this. As long as you didn’t do anything to void your warranty, like having another company aside from your manufacturer install your system or other warranty restrictions, you will be serviced by your manufacturer.
Here are typical costs of repair of your solar panel:
- Cracked panels will take about $100 to $300
- 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.
- Flat or tilted panels.
- Location of your panels – if your 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 and navigate.
- 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 – if you opt-in for a bundle for cleaning and maintenance when you purchased your solar system, the cost will be less.
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.
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. This is an add-on and costs about $14,000 to $22,000.
⦁ 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.
Author: Ben McInerney is a renewable energy enthusiast with the goal of helping more Australians understand solar systems to make the best choice before they purchase. Having an accredited solar installer in the family helps give Ben access to the correct information, which allows him to break it down and make it easily understandable to the average homeowner.