Cleaning Panels Yourself May Not Make Economic Sense
Paying someone to clean your panels doesnt make economic sense, but what about doing it yourself? That has to be cheaper, right? Well, that depends on how valuable your time is to you and what value you place on your own neck. Or at least having a neck that functions as it is supposed to.
Lets say you value your time at the Australian minimum wage of $17.70. If it takes you 20 minutes to clean your panels, doing it twice a year will cost you about $12 worth of time. As a 2% increase in output can save someone with a 5 kilowatt system over $20 a year, cleaning panels yourself can be worthwhile. But this calculation leaves out a major cost and I am not talking about water or detergent.
Each time you climb up on your roof, or use a ladder to spray water onto your solar panels, there is a small but real chance you will fall off and injure or kill yourself. If you value your life at $10 million and you think there is a one in a million chance you will accidentally kill yourself each time you clean your solar panels, then pricing in that risk adds another $10 each time. This means cleaning you solar panels yourself may not pay either, provided you place a high value on your own life.
But if you clean your panels just by spraying them with a hose from the ground, you are probably not in any great danger. You are very unlikely to accidentally strangle yourself with the hose, or experience a sudden surge in water pressure that kills you with exploding rubber hose shrapnel.
Commercial Solar Panel Cleaning Cost Per Panel
While flat rates are applicable, other service providers charge cleaning costs on a per-panel basis. Here, the number of panels you have will determine your cleaning costs.
The number of panels cleaned is multiplied by the cost per panel.
Note that the cost per panel will vary from one location to the next. So, while typical costs maybe around $3 to $5 in certain locations, the same job may be charged between $8 and $12 in other areas.
Youll have to compare quotes between service providers to have a fair idea of what obtains in your area.
With Regular Solar Panel Cleaning Service
You installed a solar panels on your home to save you money by offsetting rising electricity costs by generating your own power. Great for the planet, and great for your pocketbook! Premier Solar Cleaning, LLC will make sure youre maximizing the return on your investment.
According to a study by the University of Houston, unclean solar panels can reduce energy production up to 35% and cleaning is recommended every 4 months. Having your solar panels cleaned regularly not only saves you money by making sure theyre producing at top capacity, but it also protects your solar system and the manufacturers warranty.
It is essential to have a trained, licensed and insured professional clean and maintain your system to avoid costly damage. From cracks in the glass to the seals between each panel, there are many risks when it comes to cleaning the solar panels yourself.
Working on the roof itself is a huge hazard! The challenging task comes with the risk of personal injury or damaging roof tiles. This is where Premier Solar Cleaning comes in. We are your trusted, local, licensed, and insured professionals.
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For More Extensive Mess: Scrub Them Down
If the mess on your panels is more than just dust and dirt, and includes sticky substances such as bird droppings or sticky plant materials, then you might need to give the panels a good scrubbing.
Once again, you dont want to be too hard on the panels. Pick a soft scrubber, squeegee, or brush, that wont scratch or damage the panels. Also pick a very mild soap, that doesnt contain any chemicals which could harm or degrade the panels.
From there, heres how you clean the panels:
- Fill a bucket with warm water and add a small amount of mild soap.
- Rinse solar panels with a hose, or with another low-pressure sprayer.
- Use soapy water and the scrubber to gently scrub the panels and clean them of any debris or buildup.
- Rinse solar panels thoroughly to remove any soapy water.
- Allow panels to dry in the sun.
And there you have it, its quite the straightforward process, and doesnt require much beyond a scrubber that is capable of reaching across your panels. But remember, solar panels get very hot on sunny summer days. You might want to schedule your clean for early in the morning or late in the evening.
Potential Solar Panel Repair Costs
Performing the above cleaning and inspection work regularly, you may never need to make any solar panel repairs or replacements. However, severe weather conditions and unfortunate circumstances do happen. You should keep yourself informed of potential solar repair work costs and factor it into your home energy budget.
If routine inspections and cleaning do find that your solar panels require maintenance or repair work, its essential to try and get those tasks accomplished as soon as possible. Neglecting to fix broken or malfunctioning solar panel equipment or components will severely reduce your panels energy output, damaging your solar investment. Additionally, ignoring repair work can potentially cause more expensive damages and even fires if not properly handled.
Solar panel owners typically spend an average of $714 when repairing solar panels, but depending on the type of damage, replacements, or labor necessary this number can fluctuate.
According to fixr.com, the most visible repair work such as broken glass, obstructing branches, cracked panels, or corrosion runs roughly from $20-$350. Broken inverters or damaged tiling, however, can cost up to $3,000 to repair or replace.
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Solar Panel Maintenance Costs
Having solar panels can help you to reduce your reliance on the grid. You can have solar panels installed and start saving money on the cost of your energy bill, and you may even find rebates and tax incentives. More and more people are choosing to go solar, which is great. However, it is important to remember that in order for those solar panels to continue working for you, maintenance and cleaning are important.
One of the most important aspects of maintenance is proper cleaning at least twice a year. Over time, they will gather dust and dirt, and the rain will not be able to wash it all away. To ensure that they are operating at their full potential, you will want to have them cleaned. Professionals offer this service and it tends to be relatively cheap.
Solar panel maintenance: maintenance and cleaning on a yearly basis of 15 panels system.
The Economics Of Paying For Solar Panel Cleaning Dont Pan Out
Paying people to clean your solar panels costs more than its worth. Even in a situation that is as close to being best case as is realistically possible.
Lets say you rescue a panel cleaners poodle from drowning during the great poodle flood of 07. As a reward she gives you a great deal on cleaning panels, only $5 each, and you pay her to clean them twice a year.
Your rooftop solar system is 5 kilowatts with 20 panels. Its in a sunny location that, without cleaning, generates an average of 25 kilowatt-hours a day. You have a 44 cent feed-in tariff and because you are never home during the day you receive it for every kilowatt-hour generated.
If solar panel cleaning twice a year results in a 2% increase in average solar generation, then you will earn around an extra $80 a year, but you will have spent $400 having your panels cleaned. So even under excellent circumstances it makes no financial sense. Even if having your panels cleaned twice a year increased their average output by 10% a year, which is extremely unlikely, you would only just break even.
Solar Panel Cleaning Cost
Homeowners spend an average of $150 to have their solar panels cleaned. Depending on factors such as roof slant, home height and system size, companies charge between $3 and $10 per panel. Some charge a flat rate within a range of $150 to $350. Annual inspections are typically $150 before the cost of cleaning.
These systems require minimal maintenance throughout the year. Most come with automatic monitoring which immediately alerts you to issues and low efficiency. However, it is important to get an annual inspection and cleaning to keep your system operating at peak performance.
A professional will be able to remove debris from the glass panels with the proper tools, soap, and water to prevent damage. They will also be able to assess any damage to the system and recommend next steps. Some amount of washing may be performed by the homeowner themselves, though it is important to call the solar installation company first. They can advise you on best practices for DIY work that won’t void your warranty.
How To Clean Solar Panels
If you do decide your solar panels need to be cleaned, there are two main ways of doing it: hire a professional or do it yourself. A lot of solar companies will offer this type of service to you, for a fee of course. They might offer it as part of an annual maintenance service, or suggest you get it done every so often when they come to install the product. The truth is, what you get back cost-wise in your energy bill does not exceed the amount you need to shell out to these companies to perform the work. Solar companies often charge a steep amount to do this cleaning, for not much return on your energy bill.
On the other hand, if you were interested in doing it yourself, youll generally have all you need to do it at home. In most instances, it will involve nothing more than a hose, maybe some soap, and youre good to go. This might be helpful in drought-prone areas as well, because essentially what youre doing with the hose is the same thing the rain would do if you got more of it in your area.
There are ways to determine if your solar panels need cleaning to begin with. One is physical inspection of the panels for debris, dirt, bird droppings, etc. The other way is the use of a monitoring system that alerts you to how well your solar panels are functioning and performing. This can alert you to any maintenance needs for your system, whether thats mechanical, electrical, or cleanliness.
Solar Panel Inspection Cost
You can expect to pay from $150 to $300 for the annual inspection of your roof solar panels. If the technician suspects that any components are broken or not working properly during the inspection, they might suggest replacement or repair. This could increase the costs up to $750. To make sure your systems are functioning efficiently, a qualified technician will inspect them annually. Among other tasks, they evaluate overall efficiency and performance using monitoring statistics and onsite records, carry out a visual inspection for damage, moisture penetration, fractures, and frame corrosion, inspect the for fixing points, framework, and module clamps for security and integrity, inspect cabling, the generation meter, the junction boxes, and ensure correct general operation of inverters, cable connections, and display functionality.
How Do I Know When My Solar Panels Need Cleaning
Do a monthly visual inspection to look for any noticeable dust buildup. Also, you can watch your electric bill or check your solar system monitoring app for any noticeable drop in production. Only then should you worry about cleaning your solar panels. And even then, nature is most likely going to clean them for you.
Can Solar Panel Cleaning Affect My Warranty
Yes. You should have your solar panels professionally cleaned according to the manufacturers instructions or you could invalidate your warranty.
To learn more about the correct cleaning procedure for your solar panels, check your solar panel instruction booklet or speak to a professional who is experienced in cleaning your brand of solar panels.
Solar Panel Cleaning Service Cost
The effects of your homes environment and surroundings are what can and inevitably will drive up or down these costs. In any case, what matters most is living around a space that has excessive fluctuations in the climate. There are two methods into charging homeowners for a cleaning service. For the flat rate, youll be looking to spend about $130 to $150 for a 32 panel system. This cleaning session will probably take about one and a half to two hours. Any more than that will cost up to $2.50 per additional panel.
There are a number of reasons as to why these costs can vary, which includes the following: stories of home, type of roof, and the setup that the system was installed in. These factors will inevitably affect your overall cost range. If youre curious as to what your estimate will most look like, youll probably want to call up your cleaners and ask them for a more precise calculation.
You should also think about the scheduling and timing of your cleaning professional. If the area your home is located in is prone to wetness, the evaporation rate will be unpredictable. Professional solar panel cleaners will give you an accurate scheduling for your appointment so that they can get the job done during a cloudy day. Environments with too much sunlight can cause stains, while environments with too much sunlight can cause accidents.
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How Not To Clean Solar Panels
It is not recommended by solar panel manufacturers to use chemicals to clean your panels. Tap water and rain water will not clean solar panels sufficiently to keep them running at maximum efficiency. Using detergents to clean solar panels leaves a sticky microscopic film on the solar panel which actually attracts dirt and grime. Again, this will lead to your solar panels not running efficiently.
HOW TO Clean Solar Panels
How To Clean Your Solar Panels
If youre confident that the DIY path is safe enough, cleaning your solar panels should be quite easy. Here are a couple of useful tips and how to go about the cleaning process.
Check-in with the solar installer or refer to the user manual
This step will reveal any important information you need to know about the solar system and any special precautions needed before cleaning, like turning off your system.
Try hosing your solar panels off from the ground
Hosing solar panels off from the ground is the easiest, safest, and cheapest way to clean solar panels. Its most effective if your roof is low and the main problem with your panels is dust accumulation.
Make sure you use enough pressure to rinse away dust, but not too much as it races dirt particles across the panels, which scratch the panels surface. These scratches cast tiny shadows on the PV cells, permanently reducing the efficiency of your solar panels.
Also, dont intentionally spray water on the underside of the solar panel . A little accidental splashing wont do any harm, but too much water at a high enough pressure may cause significant damage to your system.
For heavier buildup that requires you to climb
But even as you plan to do this, its better to have the necessary safety equipment in place before climbing your roof. The last thing you want is to get injured or, even worse, die while cleaning solar panels.
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Will I Need To Hire Any Other Tradesmen
Providing that your solar panels are in good condition and dont need to be replaced, you wont need to hire any other tradesmen to assist with the clean itself.
However, if after a thorough clean your solar panels still arent as efficient as they should be, you may need to contact an electrician to inspect the issue. There are several reasons why your solar system may not be generating enough energy, such as the likes of a broken inverter, defective charge controller and faults in the solar panel itself.
Faults in the solar panel can often be the most difficult task to fix, as all the photovoltaic modules within the panel are interlocked. Therefore, just one faulty panel could have a major impact on the efficiency of the whole system. If you are in any doubt about the performance of your solar panels, it would be wise to hire a professional electrician to carry out tests and find a solution.
How Much Do Solar Panel Cleaning Services Cost
Most professional solar panel cleaners will offer a free estimate. Once youve received an estimate, you can decide whether or not to hire the cleaner.
If you decide to hire a professional solar panel cleaner, be sure to get references and read reviews before hiring anyone. That way, youll be sure youre hiring a reputable company.
The cost of solar panel cleaning services will vary depending on the size of your system, the number of panels, and the frequency of cleaning. In general, the solar panel cleaning cost is between $100 and $350 per year.
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Who Can Clean Solar Panels
Any able-bodied person can clean their own solar panels, as long as they do so from the ground, or have professional knowledge of carrying out rooftop solar panel cleaning. If this isnt possible, you will need to hire a Clean Energy Council accredited technician with the appropriate safety and equipment training instead.