Solar panels are becoming increasingly popular as more homeowners look to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and transition to renewable energy sources. However, like any system, solar panels require regular maintenance and cleaning to operate efficiently. As you consider installing solar panels, it's important to understand the costs associated with keeping them properly maintained.
In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know about solar panel cleaning costs in 2024, including:
Armed with this information, you can develop an accurate solar panel maintenance budget and ensure your system provides the maximum return on investment over its lifespan.
Several key factors determine how much you can expect to spend on solar panel cleaning each year:
Logically, the more solar panels you have, the more it will cost to have them cleaned. Costs are usually calculated on a per-panel basis. The average solar panel size is around 65" x 39", or 17 square feet. As you add more panels, the overall cleaning job becomes larger and more time-intensive.
In terms of size, solar shingles and other custom-designed panels can be more difficult to access and clean. Their unique shapes and small sizes require more meticulous effort from cleaning technicians.
Panels mounted on angled rooftops or tall poles are more challenging to clean than a ground-level array. The steepness of your roof also impacts costs. Cleaning contractors may charge an additional fee for using ladders, scaffolding, boom lifts, or other equipment to safely access elevated solar panels.
Likewise, panels that are partially shaded by trees or other structures require more selective cleaning between obstructions. This slows down the process.
Homes located in hot, arid climates with frequent sand or dust storms usually require more frequent solar panel cleanings than in cooler, wetter regions. Solar panels in cold climates also accumulate more snow, ice, and winter precipitation that needs to be removed.
Areas with high pollen counts may need additional cleaning in spring and summer when tree and grass pollen coat the panels with a fine film. Coastal regions also battle salt spray, bird droppings, and other grime. The amount of natural cleaning your panels receive from rain can influence the frequency of paid cleaning.
Contractors base their quotes on how much existing debris, dirt, sap, and other grime needs to be removed from your solar panels. Extremely dirty solar arrays take longer to clean. Some homeowners may choose to do a basic cleaning themselves first before calling in the pros.
Cleaning companies have different techniques for washing solar panels. Some use simple hand brushes, while others employ power sprayers. Using only water versus specialised solar panel cleaning solutions can impact costs. Companies must also bring enough water to clean all panels, which adds logistical effort.
More advanced robotic solar panel cleaning technology is extremely efficient but comes at a higher price.
According to the most recent data, as of January 2024, the average total cost to have solar panels professionally cleaned was $465. On a per-panel basis, costs range from $13 on the low end to $25 per panel on the high end of the spectrum.
To give you a better idea of real-world costs, here is what you can expect to pay for complete solar array cleaning based on the number of panels in your home:
These numbers illustrate how much economy of scale comes into play. Cleaning contractors have base service fees and minimum charges that account for their travel time and effort to mobilise at your home. These fixed costs get spread over more panels as the size of the job increases.
While $465 is the current average, actual solar panel cleaning prices can vary dramatically based on all the factors discussed earlier. National averages also fail to reflect regional differences in the cost of living and labour expenses.
To reduce costs, many solar panel owners choose to self-clean their systems rather than hiring a professional company. Let's compare the pros and cons of each approach.
Cleaning your own solar panels only requires basic equipment like soft brushes, spray bottles, towels, and a household ladder. There's no labour charge involved, so costs are mainly for supplies.
Following manufacturer cleaning guidelines carefully is crucial when taking the DIY route. Also, consider the value of your time and the physical effort involved.
Paying a professional solar panel cleaning company ensures the job gets done quickly, safely, and properly. You avoid any risks of roof or equipment damage. Crews have specialised equipment, solutions, and insurance.
In summary, professional cleaning is generally superior but comes at a higher price. DIY cleaning can work well for homeowners on a tight budget who are able to invest their own time and effort.
Beyond scheduled cleanings, other solar panel maintenance services may be needed over their 25+ year lifespan. Common repairs include:
Solar panel glass is very durable, but extreme weather events like large hail can cause fractures and cracks. This allows moisture intrusion, which leads to internal component corrosion. Replacing broken solar panel glass or related cabling typically costs $200 to $400 per panel on average.
Inverters also wear out over time, usually needing replacement at least once in a system's life. Swapping a standard 3-5 kW solar inverter runs $1,000 to $1,500, including labour. Defective inverters are more likely to fail when internal temperatures are high, so keeping your panels clean improves airflow and prevents overheating.
Sealing, brackets, and roof connections can deteriorate and require restoration to prevent leaks. Tree trimming is also a regular maintenance activity to prevent overhanging branches from shading your panels. Expect to budget $150 to $250 per year for preventative upkeep tasks.
Given the importance of solar panel maintenance, many states and utilities offer financial incentives to homeowners and businesses to help offset these costs.
Consult a qualified tax professional to confirm which solar maintenance expenses qualify for available credits and deductions in your area.
Harry Virk is the director of CleaningPro Auckland. He has years of experience in the cleaning industry and his company is expert at providing exceptional cleaning services in Auckland. He has a passion for helping people and making sure that their homes are clean, tidy, and ready for visitors.