Cleaning Solar Panels Yourself Vs Hiring A Professional
While cleaning them yourself may seem like a great way to save money, in most cases, its not only a risk to your solar system and the panels warranty, but its a risk to your own safety. No amount of energy savings is worth that. Youre also risking causing damage to your system that far exceeds any gains cleaning dirt off would ever give you.
We dont recommend you clean your solar panels, but if youre really set on it, stick to these basic tips to limit damage to your system.
First off, check-in with the solar installer to see if there is anything you should know relating to the system or special precautions you should take before cleaning. Then, make sure all the necessary safety gear is in place and being used properly.
Only use a soft stream of water from your garden hose . Using any type of high-pressure attachment or a power washer will likely cause damage to your solar panels which could greatly reduce your production and void your warranty.
Its also essential to never clean your panels with anything waxy, abrasive, or corrosive, as it could damage the coating on the panels. In fact, one of our solar panel manufacturers recommends never using any chemicals to clean your panels – just water.
Another important thing to note is that solar panels can get very hot when the sun is out. Opt for an overcast day to do the cleaning, if youre absolutely determined to do so.
How Much Do Solar Panels Save
Switching to a solar energy system could potentially cut your energy bill by 75%. The savings you and your family see will depend greatly on where you live, what the climate is like and your particular energy needs. For instance, an average homeowner in Portland, Oregon, will see total savings of $38,000, whereas a homeowner in Los Angeles could save as much as $90,000 over 20 years.
Many solar energy companies provide a free calculator tool to help you easily estimate the cost and savings of installing solar panels on your home. Different solar calculators may estimate electricity costs in different ways. Numbers can be based on the national average, regional averages or other information you provide.
The average American electric bill is between $100 and $200 per month, and the average yearly energy cost is about $1,500. Depending on how much you pay out-of-pocket for the solar panel system, it could take five to 15 years to break even. To calculate how long it will take you to break even on savings versus the cost of your solar panels, first subtract your incentives and rebates from your costs. Divide that number by the amount you are saving on utility bills per year.
Even if your solar panels generate 100% of your electricity needs, you may still receive a utility bill. However, instead of asking for payments, you will get net metering credits for the month.
Find Solar Panel Cleaning Services Near You
When hiring solar panel cleaners on Thumbtack, look for a company that specializes in solar panels, not just general window washing. Your solar installation company may provide a solar maintenance package that includes regular cleanings.
Reading reviews will help you narrow down potential cleaning companies in your area. Ideally, you’d create an ongoing relationship with the company to come twice a year and keep your panels in peak condition.
Inquire about what type of cleaning solution the company uses, what safety measures and liability insurance the company has, and how they determine their rates. And clarify how and when payment will be made and what to expect during the process.
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Solar Panel Inspection Costs
The national average cost of solar panel inspections, with trained professionals, ranges from $150-$300. Expert inspections ensure that youre gaining the maximum return on your solar power investment. In-person assessments conducted by professionals typically focus on functionality and efficiency while searching for damages requiring repair work.
From top to bottom, qualified inspections need to be thorough, taking into account mounting systems, panel framework, and module clamps, alongside your junction boxes, display meters, and searching for moisture penetration or corrosion. Inspectors also use on-site records and reference statistics to monitor your panels output and evaluate their overall performance and efficiency. Its also essential to check for any instability or misalignments within your framing system.
For a few hundred bucks a year, annual inspections ensure that your solar panels output the necessary energy to power your home and provide a sound energy investment.
How Much Does It Cost To Install Solar Panels
The average cost to install solar panels in the United States is about $12,000 after federal tax incentives. On the low end, you can install a smaller system for around $5,000, while a high-priced Tier 1 solar panel system can cost $40,000 or more.
There are additional costs that go into an installation project beyond the price of panels. In fact, only about a quarter of the installation costs are actually for the panels. Labor costs, operational costs and additional equipment, such as inverters and control circuitry, make up the rest of the price.
Solar energy companies install the solar panels, provide maintenance and offer warranties on both the panels and the work. These additional services arent free, but they are often worth it. A few additional factors affect the price of solar panel installation.
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Hiring A Solar Panel Cleaner Checklist
Prior to hiring someone to clean your solar panels, there are some things you should consider.
- Is the job safe for you to do yourself? If not don’t attempt it.
- Professionals can clean your solar panels much better and quicker than DIY cleaning.
- Schedule regular cleaning throughout the year to avoid any further issues or damage.
- Enquire about a cost per panel before committing to a fee.
Other Considerations And Costs
- In addition to the basic maintenance that you can do on your own, it is also a good idea to have an inspection of the solar panels at least once a year. The professionals can come to your home and make sure that there are no problems with the solar panels.
- Many different factors can factor into the overall costs of solar panel maintenance. This includes the number and size of solar panels you have, whether the panels are flat or tilted, and where they are located.
- Your geographic location can affect the cost of the maintenance and the inspection.
- When the professionals come to your home to clean or inspect the solar panels, they may notice that the panels need to have repairs of some sort. Its best to take care of those before they worsen.
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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.
Cost Per Installed Watt
As stated, the cost per installed watt is one of just two pieces of information that you need to determine the total cost of your solar system.
Here is the average cost per installed watt broken down by province:
Its important to note that these numbers represent average costs. Systems can cost more or less than the average depending on the size and the type of equipment used.
As a general rule, a solar system in your province will be priced:
- Higher for premium equipment and installers, or if your required size is below 7.5kW
- Lower for standard equipment and discount installers, or if your required size is above 7.5kW
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Shutdown And Equipment Set
First, your Tasker shuts down the system before they start cleaning. Then, theyll begin setting up their tool kit. If your panels are installed on the ground, this is easy enough otherwise, your Tasker goes up on the roof to work there . Make sure they have a hose or faucet near the area where you want them to start cleaning.
Note: Its best to schedule solar panel cleaning early in the day or late in the afternoon to avoid the heat of the day and smeared dirt .
Dust Leaves And Water Common Solar Blockers
Dust causes regular problems beyond the build-up of grime over the years. But your exact location also plays a big role in how much this can affect your system, and what triggers it.
A bit of dust might not have an effect, according to tests done by Ontario Solar Installers, because light can still get through. They recommend that you let nature take its course, as rain will accomplish most of the task of solar panels cleaning.
A test done by one company found the amount the efficiency is lowered is minute maybe 5 per cent or less. And, with a typical 5 kW system, this might equate to about $20 of loss in your energy bill. Another company found that a thorough clean made the panels 3.5 per cent more efficient.
And if this isnt enough evidence for you, clean technology website CleanTechnica reported an analysis by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory that showed a potential 30 per cent energy yield loss per year, if they are not cleaned monthly.
Beyond this, though, its important to remember that leaves also block light. In an experiment carried out by company Mountain View, cleaning flat designs doubled their energy overnight after 15 months of operation. However, the tests confirmed that rain on rooftop panels also tends to do the job.
Special attention should be given to PV arrays situated in dustier areas if they are near farmland or next to a main road. These arrays have far more dust and dirt to contend with and will require a more frequent clean.
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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.
How Long Do Solar Panels Last
Solar panels have a lifespan of approximately 25-30 years,1 and often come with warranties to match, stating theyll produce at least 80% of the rated power after two decades of usage.2 Theyre incredibly reliable! And although solar systems require little regular maintenance, some solar providers offer comprehensive maintenance packages for the life of their products to ensure they efficiently continue generating clean, affordable, and reliable energy for years to come.
If you lease or buy a solar system from a solar provider who offers a maintenance agreement, your solar technicians will routinely inspect your panels at designated times throughout the year and even clean them for you. Meaning, with a plan of this type, once your system is up, youll forget about it and simply enjoy your electric bill savings while helping the environment stay clear from harmful greenhouse gas emissions by reducing your carbon footprint.
In case your home solar panels dont come with a maintenance plan, well walk you through some essential steps you can take to keep them running smoothly.
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What Is A Solar Farm
A solar farm, also known as a photovoltaic power station or solar plant is generally characterized by a large array of solar panels that supply electricity to the power grid.
The vast majority of existing large-scale solar power plants are owned and operated by independent power producers. However, utility-owned projects are increasing throughout the country.
Is It Worth It To Clean Your Solar Panels
Based on the research, experts are leaning toward no. And especially if you want to hire a professional company to clean them over the DIY method. The return on investment is just not there to justify the trouble. Lets take a look at some numbers. On average, when your solar panels get dirty, expect a 5% or less change in output. And thats just when theyre dirty. In most climates, if there is dust or debris on the panels and their energy output is registered 5% less than other times, the next rain will wash away the debris and the solar panels will return to their optimal efficiency. Even if you live in a drought-prone area it will rain again.
In addition, most solar panels are tilted to a high enough degree that most buildup will run right off the panel instead of sticking to the top of it. Even with tilted panels, you might have some slight buildup on the lowest panel but the decrease in output based on this alone is so minuscule, its not something worth worrying about.
Lastly, its a pretty small tradeoff, energy-wise and cost-wise, to climb up on a ladder, get on your roof, and clean your solar panels yourselves. When you think about getting out there and dragging a hose up to the roof to clean them, this point might really start to hit home.
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Diy Solar Panel Cleaning
As mentioned, its completely doable to clean the solar panels yourself. However, the main issue is making your way onto the roof, which can, of course, present itself as a major hazard. It would be advised you have the correct training to carry out any roof jobs. If you cannot access your panels safely, please dont attempt it. Instead, opt to hire a professional who has an adequate amount of knowledge and equipment.
If you have considered all of the above factors before carrying out a DIY job, check out the tips below on how to clean solar panels yourself:
1. Shut down the system: Before cleaning can begin, it would be recommended to shut down the entire system by following the instructions on your solar panel manual. Do be aware that cabling on the roof will still be live and can carry high voltages. If you happen to spot any damaged cabling, stop immediately and report it.
2. Invest in a solar panel cleaning kit: If youre in any doubt on the best method to clean solar panels, it would be worthwhile investing in a specialised solar panel cleaning equipment for the job which often includes the likes of biodegradable soap, a wiper and long-handled brush. Dip the brush into the soapy water and gently rub up and down, before hosing down to rinse.
For more information on cleaning your solar panels, how often it should be done and how to get quotes see here.
What Is The Largest Solar Farm In The World
To date, the largest solar farm in the world is Bhadla Solar Park in India. The solar farm is spread over a total area of 5,700 hectares and has a total capacity of 2245 MW. The entire Bhadla Solar Farm project cost $1.4 Billion to build.
Of course, this solar farm was not built in one go but instead developed in stages over time. Below we have listed each of the developers and the total amount of capacity they contributed to the project:
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New Research To Keep Solar Panels Clean And Efficient
While there are still DIY services and professional solutions to eliminate any soiling on your array, industry innovations are also paving the way for easier upkeep.
- Special coatings for glass to repel dust and reduce soiling.
- Robotic cleaners to remove dirt at night without using water they use soft brushes and air blowers.
- Kipp & Zonens commercial tool designed to measure dirt levels.
Kipp & Zonens DustIQ monitor for example uses LED and a photodiode to monitor the amount of dirt building up on the array. Solar farm operators can then choose when and how often to clean their installations for maximum performance.
In addition to this, expert facilities management companies like industry leader Royal Flush recommends cleaning your system at least twice a year. Doing so keeps your investment in tip-top shape to ensure better efficiency and cost-savings for the future.
But if this isnt enough to tip you over the edge and get your system in best working order, the Royal Flush team has also shed light on just how much energy you could be losing by avoiding a productive maintenance routine for your array. And where youre losing energy, youre also losing money.
For example, you could be losing up to the following percentages per quarter, if cleaning isnt on your agenda: