Solar panels are a low maintenance, long-term investment. However, one aspect of maintenance that often gets overlooked is solar panel cleaning. Regular cleaning services ensure efficiency, longevity, and overall effectiveness of solar panel systems.
When it comes to solar panel cleaning, it is recommended to hire professional services. They have the knowledge and experience to clean the panels safely and effectively, using appropriate cleaning agents and techniques that won't damage them or void the manufacturer’s warranty.
Do Solar Panels Have To Be Cleaned?
Yes. Solar panels require regular cleaning to generate solar energy efficiently.
Most homeowners install solar panels on exposed surfaces like roofs where they accumulate dirt, grime, soot, bird droppings, and other pollutants. With time, these particles build up on the glass covering that protects the panels. Rainwater is not enough to thoroughly clean the panels.
Solar panel cells absorb sunlight and convert it to solar energy. But dirty solar panels can't achieve maximum efficiency and are prone to quicker wear and tear. The energy production of dirty panels is reduced by 7% to 50%, depending on your location.
What Are The Benefits Of Solar Panel Cleaning?
There are many benefits of regular cleaning services, including:
Washing Solar Panels Enhances Energy Production
Cleaning your solar panels rids sun-blocking particles like bird droppings, dust, and smog on the surface. Clean panels can absorb more sunlight.
The increased efficiency boosts your solar panel system’s energy production, so you’ll reduce your energy bills and save more money in the long run.
Clean Solar Panels Have A Longer Lifespan
Washing your solar panels is a smart move if you want them to last longer. Dirt, debris, bird nests, and buildup that causes hotspots degrade the solar cells faster and shorten their lifespan.
Solar Panel Cleaning Meets Warranty Compliance
Ensuring your solar panels are clean is part of your due diligence as a solar panel buyer. Most manufacturers offer product warranties covering repair or replacement costs for faulty solar panels.
However, many manufacturers require proof of solar panel maintenance to grant you coverage for the damage.
Cleaning Solar Panels Allows Visual Inspection
It's easier to spot cracks or other damages on your solar panels if you keep them clean. It's even better when you hire qualified technicians since they're trained in detecting faulty solar system components. Early detection allows early repair or replacement, which can save you money.
A solar panel cleaner will also check for pest infestation in your array. If pests have invaded your system, the technician will remove them and install a pest barrier to prevent further damage.
Washing Solar Panels Improves Their Appearance
Shiny, clean solar panels are more appealing than dirty ones, and well-maintained solar panels boost curb appeal and home value.
Your solar panels can be even easier on the eye if you install custom-printed overlays like SolarSkin. These add-ons protect your solar investment, extend the lifespan of the panels, and can be printed to match your roof’s shingles or tiles.
How Often Do Solar Panels Need To Be Cleaned?
Clean your solar panels at least twice a year for maximum efficiency.
However, most solar installers recommend more frequent cleaning (3-4 times a year) for optimal energy production.
Several factors affect how often you should clean your solar panels:
- Region or climate: You may only need to clean your solar panels every six months if you're in a location that receives consistent rain. On the other hand, solar panels in hot climates with sand or salt water conditions require cleaning more frequently.
- Installation surface: Solar panels on horizontal surfaces collect more dirt and debris than tilted ones. Also, arrays installed near trees require regular cleaning to prevent the buildup of leaves, fallen twigs, tree sap, or bird droppings.
- Air quality: Frequent solar panel cleaning is essential if you live in a highly polluted area since pollutants accumulate quickly on your solar panels.
- Solar power declines: You'll have to wash your solar panels more often if you keep getting frequent power declines. The reduced solar power indicates that your solar panels aren't working effectively, and dirt could be the culprit.
How Much Do Solar Panel Cleaning Services Cost?
Professional solar panel cleaning services can cost $150 to $400 or around $3 to $10 per panel. The exact amount you'll spend depends on the following:
- The solar panel cleaning company. Service providers have varying estimates and pricing plans, depending on their labor costs and the range of offered services.
- The number of solar panels. If pricing is per panel, the total cleaning cost will be subject to the number of panels on your array.
- Location. Solar panel cleaning costs will depend on labor costs in your area.
- Condition of installation surface. Solar panels on hard-to-reach surfaces like steep roofs will be costlier to clean than those installed on the ground. Also, a cleaning company might charge you more if your panels have a lot of accumulated dirt and debris.
- Materials and equipment. Companies using automatic cleaners (robots) will charge more to clean solar panels than those who use standard cleaning tools.
Can You Clean Your Own Solar Panels?
Yes, but only if you're experienced in rooftop jobs and can do so safely.
DIY solar panel cleaning will save you some bucks because you don't have to hire someone to do the job. Plus, doing it more frequently makes it quick since there's no dirt buildup.
You’ll need to proper safety equipment to access the solar panel array, plus a sponge or soft bristle brush, gentle detergent, a squeegee, and water source. Some professionals recommend only using deionized water to eliminate any chemical or mineral deposits remaining on the panels.
Pressure washing your solar panels is NOT recommended.
On the downside, cleaning your own solar panels is risky if you don’t have the experience or tools to climb roofs. You could also damage the solar panels by using the wrong cleaning method, such as power-washing. Or you might utilize inappropriate cleaning products and equipment, like detergents, abrasive brushes, and pressure washers.
DIY cleaning could also void the product warranty coverage from the manufacturer due to negligence.
Numerous solar companies in the US today offer residential and commercial solar panel cleaning services. Hiring a reputable cleaner in your service area will save you the hassle and ensure the job is done right.