Should I Pay Someone To Clean My Panels
Over a year ago, we wrote a blog post covering the ins and outs of solar panel cleaning. Since then, solar has become even more popular, and solar cleaning companies are popping up across the nation and becoming more reasonably priced.
Originally, homeowners had to buy expensive equipment to safely clean their panels or hire a window washing company who didnt quite know what they were doing. Now there are hundreds of small solar cleaning companies to choose from solely dedicated to making your panels look spic and span.
So, is it worth it to even clean your solar panels? And should you pay someone to get the job done for you?
Solar Panel Maintenance & Inspections
As mentioned, these systems will not demand much care throughout their lifetime. Cleaning is the primary concern. This equipment typically comes with a monitoring option which you can watch and measure yourself. With this monitoring ability, you can catch dips in energy output and equipment failures right away. If you notice a change, an inspection by a local professional is the best way to make sure you solve the problem correctly. If you don’t notice a change, an annual inspection could still turn up issues and you’ll be glad you caught before they became more serious. Small cracks, for example, could leak moisture into your panels at a slow rate, causing failure that requires expensive repairs.
During an annual inspection, which averages $150, the contractor will check important components. They will search for corrosion, wear and loose wiring and bolts. They may find cracks in your panels or broken glass and suggest repair work or replacement. Solar panel repair costs average$650. Your inspector may also find that tree branches or new construction are obstructing the system’s sun exposure. They may suggest tree trimming or even relocating your system on the roof.
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 manufacturers 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 didnt 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
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Another Option: Have Them Serviced
Another option, if you dont feel like doing the work yourself, is to have the panels serviced by a professional. If you purchased directly from a solar panel company, then check the manufactures website to see if there are providers in your area that can have them serviced.
Many companies offer service plans upon purchasing the panel itself. These plans might include regular maintenance and upkeep. They might also include regular checkups to ensure that the panels are running as efficiently as they should.
But if it were up to us, we wouldnt choose this option. These services might end up costing you a fair bit. Youre essentially spending money so that you can save on your electricity bill down the line. Youre cancelling out your own cost savings! And since cleaning solar panels isnt a very difficult task to begin with, wed recommend against hiring someone for this job in most circumstances.
Remember, youre essentially comparing the cost of servicing the panels against the cost youd save by generating more energy with cleaner panels. These costs will rarely offset.
Is It Time To Clean Your Solar Panels Call Today For A Free Quote
Curb Appeal Power Clean are professional solar cleaning experts in Los Angeles that can help keep your panels clean and efficient. The technicians only use top-notch equipment and cleaning agents to ensure that your solar panels work at maximum production, without the risk of damaging your system. Call today for a free estimate.
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Does Your Solar Lease Cover Panel Maintenance
In general, solar lease agreements will include a maintenance clause of some sort. Some companies will perform regular maintenance on their panels, and others will repair damages the customer reports. It is important to remember that solar panels generally require little maintenance, and simply spraying your panels down with a hose occasionally can do the trick.
Solar Panels Maintenance Cost Per Year
Regular solar panel maintenance costs between $140 and $180 on average in the United States, but many services are covered by warranties.
Annual inspections are the most common service that solar panels need and are typically priced at $150 across the United States.
Damage to your solar panels system or if you clean your panels more frequently as dirt and debris accumulate more quickly are two possible causes of an increase in maintenance costs.
Depending on your professional installer, you may get away with even less frequent maintenance.
If you buy solar panels, you may get a certain number of maintenance visits included in the price.
Most homeowners also need to consider the cost of removing and reinstalling your panels if your roof ever needs to be repaired.
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Solar Panel Maintenance Costs In 2020
Before deciding whether you should install solar panels onto your homes roof, you may wonder about the necessary upkeep and maintenance costs. Good news! Solar panels are a long-term investment that requires very little home maintenance or upkeep to provide you with cost-effective solar energy for up to 25 years, which is absolutely a win for your wallet.
However, there are a few things to consider when introducing solar panels to your home when it comes to preventative maintenance and repairs. Well outline common solar panel maintenance tasks in todays blog and how much they usually cost to achieve. This way, youll be able to make the best decision possible when deciding to invest in solar power.
How Many Solar Panels Do I Need
Your energy needs determine how many panels you need, which affects the overall price of your solar system installation. To eliminate your electric bill entirely, you must generate 100% of the electricity your home needs. Most homeowners need between 25 and 35 panels to achieve complete energy independence.
Average households need867 kWh/monthin electrical power
A solar panel typically produces about one kilowatt-hour per day, so if your daily kWh usage is 30, you would need 30 solar panels to generate all of your energy needs. If you need to generate extra energy to heat a pool or run the air conditioning for most of the year, this adds to your energy costs.
To estimate the amount of energy youll need, you need to know your average kilowatt-hours . This number should be on your utility bill as kWh used. To get your monthly average, look at bills for the past year, add up the stated kWh used and divide by 12.
Next, divide your monthly kWh average by 30 to calculate your daily average. For instance, if your average monthly kWh is 900, then your average daily kWh is 30.
For a more accurate calculation, try to factor in times when there is not as much solar power available, like when its cloudy or in the evening. There are two main ways to account for this:
These additional calculations can be difficult, but they are necessary if you want the optimum solar power system for your home.
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Should I Clean My Solar Panels
While dust and dirt settling on your panels is unavoidable, thankfully, so is rain. Even just a mild and short rain shower will do a sufficient job of cleaning the grime off your panels and will have them performing at their full potential with no effort or money spent.
This is backed by a University of San Diego study where researchers looked at how much energy production was lost due to dust and grime each month during the summer drought. They found that in nearly every situation, hiring a professional to clean your panels is not worth the cost. There are, however, a few exceptions to this.
The Panels Pitch
In order for the rain to properly clean your system, the panels need to be pitched. The good news is, the study showed a pitch as slight as 5 degrees did the trick. So as long as your solar panels dont sit completely flat, rain will be enough to get your panels clean.
The Type of Dirt
Another consideration is the dirt itself – what is making the panels dirty and how often does it accumulate? While normal airborne particles such as pollen, dirt, and dust will wash off in the rain with ease, there are some items that could be a bit trickier, like bird droppings. Keep an eye on your panels before and after it rains to see if theyre coming clean. If some stubborn dirt is still hanging around, it may be worth looking into having them cleaned.
The Systems Location
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.
Theres 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 manufacturers 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 wont evaporate fast and dirt wont coat or stick to your panels which makes it harder to clean.
Turn your solar system off: This is the step you shouldnt miss because cleaning while your system is on will cause damage to it.
Check and inspect for cracks: Dont clean these cracks with water since it may hurt your system. Call a professional to inspect and conduct repairs.
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What Should I Avoid Doing To My Solar Panels
Before you do anything, here are a few things you should not do:
- As a general rule, stay on the ground. Nobody should get up on your roof without a secure ladder and proper fall protection equipment. We highly recommend hiring a professional if there’s a need to go on the roof for panel cleaning.
- Avoid using hard or mineral-rich water. It may damage panels over time. If your area only has hard tap water, you can buy an inexpensive water-softening hose attachment to filter out minerals. Otherwise, you can use distilled or de-ionized water.
- When using a high-pressure water nozzle, don’t get close to the panels. While they’re extremely durable, you don’t want to risk any potential damage.
- Don’t use abrasive brushes, pads or powders. Instead, choose soft-bristle brushes, towels, and squeegees if necessary.
How To Tell When My Solar Panels Need Maintenance
In most cases, your solar panel system won’t need much maintenance outside of your regular inspections and cleaning. But there are some red flags to look out for that may indicate your panels require maintenance sooner than scheduled.
The best indicator that your solar panels need maintenance is a reduction in your energy output. If you suddenly notice that your solar panels aren’t producing as much energy as they normally do and that your electricity bill has gone up, it’s a good sign that you should schedule a service appointment.
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What Solar Panel Cleaning Costs The Customer
A quick Google search throws up a plethora of companies offering solar panel cleaning. A total of 1,690,000 pages for the UK alone! What is soon evident is how some companies word their offers, buried in a lot of technical jargon. What are some of the solar panel cleaning prices out there?
One company claims that a £30 investment could see returns of £1500! This implies that you get an added £1500 worth of electricity. This is not true! An average 4kW system will only make about £1200 in total over a whole year. A £30 clean will not do the same!
Another company offers solar panel cleaning for systems of 4kW and less for a standard price of £125.00 plus VAT. For a 16 panel system, which are most common, thats getting on for a whopping £10.00 per panel! At that price, a solar panel owner would be better off just letting their solar panels get dirty their reduction in electricity production would cost them less! The same companys price guide also states that cleaning a typical 50kW system would cost £525.00 + VAT. Again, the benefits of cleaning the system can not outweigh the costs at those sorts of prices.
Normal Grime Hardly Affects Solar Panels
Dirt on solar panels usually has very little effect on their performance. This is because, for most homes in Australia, rainfall is enough to keep solar panels reasonably clean. Grime will build up, but eventually there will be sufficient rain to wash most of it off.
Cleaning in addition to what is done naturally by rain will boost panel output, since on average they will have even less dirt on them, but it doesnt help much.
A study done in the United States in Tucson, Arizona, found that cleaning solar panels only improved their output by around 1%. This is in a location that only receives a little more than half as much rainfall as Adelaide, which is Australias driest capital.
This doesnt mean that in your particular location cleaning panels will only improve average performance by 1%. You might happen to live in a dirty, dirty place or have lots of birds trying to turn your roof into the site of a future guano mine. But I would estimate that for most households in Australia, cleaning solar panels twice a year would only improve their average output by around 2%.
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What Do I Use To Clean Solar Panels
The best way to clean the solar panels is by using water, mild soap, and a soft sponge. Also, you can use a garden hose to spread water on the panels’ surface. Further, you must be very careful not to scratch the panels in any way. Do not use high-pressure water on the surface as it will damage the panels. Instead, use mild soapy water and wash the panels with a soft sponge. Then, rinse it with clean water with the help of the hose.
Why Should You Clean Your Solar Panels
Dirty solar panels reduce the amount of sunlight being absorbed by the panel, thus reducing the amount of electricity being generated by the solar panel. Further to that, solar panels are a product of electrical technology, and need to be maintained in order to keep them working and in good condition for years to come.
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How To Clean Your Solar Panels
As we said, the easiest way to clean solar panels is with water and a soft sponge. Some suggest using a mild detergent too. However, do not use water pressure as it can cause damage to the panels’ surface. Instead, use the sponge to remove dirt like bird droppings and wash it off with water and detergent.
Technician cleaning solar panels
Do not use strong detergents or chemicals. They might also cause damage. Furthermore, always consider safety measures when cleaning. For example, use a long-handled tool to reach the panels while staying on the ground.
Usually, the cleaning requires nothing more than a garden hose. But again, use it at a low water pressure. The hose works in the same way as the rain to clean the surface. If the panels are unreachable from the ground, use a ladder to climb up. You can also use ropes and harnesses if necessary. But, always consider safety measures.
Another way to clean solar panels is to hire a professional cleaning service. Many companies provide this service in exchange for a certain fee. For instance, some companies might charge you annually, while others might charge you for a one-time service.
But, before considering professional cleaning services, you must look into the return on investment of hiring them. If you are spending hundreds of dollars just to get 5 to 10 percent efficiency from the panels, it might not be worth it.
Proper Water For Cleaning
Professionals will also be aware of the mineral content of your local water. “In Arizona, our water is very hard,” says Brent. The EPA recommends avoiding drinking water with mineral counts of over 500. Weve seen mineral counts up to 1,500 in our area.
Hard water that has not been properly filtered can leave water spots and stains on your solar panels, cleaning away the dirt, but leaving behind a mineral residue that reduces the intake of the suns rays over time and decreases your energy absorption.
Depending on the mineral content in the area, companies will use different processes to prep the water to properly clean your panels. In Arizona, Windsor with Window Genie of the East Valley uses an onsite water de-ionizer that brings the mineral count of the water down to below 9 parts per million, making the water spot-free.
“If you dont use the right type of water and allow hard water stains to build up, you can permanently damage your solar panels,” says Brent.
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