How much does it cost to maintain your solar panels?
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Solar Panel Maintenance Cost Guide
Updated: Jan 01, 1970
Solar panel installation is a long-term investment that can serve you well for decades with very minimal maintenance, but that doesn’t mean you can install once and then ignore them. Plan on a yearly inspection and cleaning, and stay cognizant of potential problems such as overhanging trees or storm damage. To ensure that such investments stay in great shape and continue to offer benefits, it is important to have them professionally maintained and cleaned on a regular basis.
Solar panel maintenance costs average between $300 and $700, with most homeowners paying around $400 for the cleaning and inspection of a 10-panel 2 kW system on a one-story home. On the lower end, cleaning a 10-panel 2kW system can cost just $150, while cleaning and inspecting a 3 kW 20-panel system can cost up to $1,000 on average.
Solar Panel Maintenance Price
|Solar Panel Maintenance Cost|
|National average cost||$400|
Cost of Solar Panel Maintenance
For the cleaning and inspection of a 10-panel 2 kW system on a one-story home, expect to pay $150 to $370 in labor and $150 to $330 in materials, for a total cost of $300 to $700. Maintenance is completed by a solar panel company technician. These systems typically require very little maintenance. Every two to three years, they should be inspected. Some warranties require frequent maintenance, while others require twice-a-year inspections. The cleaning and inspection of the units need to be completed regularly. During the maintenance, the technician will inspect all components to make sure they are all functioning efficiently. Other maintenance that may be required when needed includes replacing brackets or fixing glass.
Many factors influence the costs of professional maintenance. The first is location. Most panel installations are on the rooftop, but others are on the ground or side of the home. Contractors may require additional hours or extra laborers to ensure proper accessibility and safety. The steeper your roof, the more time and labor are required. Size is the next factor. A larger array of systems takes more time for inspection and cleaning to ensure peak performance. Also, some contractors charge a minimum fee for very small arrays. Bundling can lessen the annual fee. Some homeowners have the option to bundle a cleaning and maintenance agreement when purchasing the system. Bundling reduces the annual fee. If repairs are required, you can expect to pay more. Regular maintenance requires no more than a cleaning and inspection. Most models follow the same basic model, but a few require special tools to clean and service. The type of inverter is a factor affecting the cost. If your inverter gives out, replacing a microinverter will end up being much more expensive than replacing a string inverter. Finally, the surrounding environment is a cost factor. Trees positioned near your home are likely to grow to shade your system. You are likely to need to pay for tree trimming to keep your system in working order.
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 mounting system 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.
Solar Panel Cleaning Cost
The average cost to clean and maintain solar panels is $150 to $330. The actual cost of cleaning will depend on a number of factors, including where you live, house height, roof slant, and what type of setup you have installed. If you have a 2 kW PV system with 10 units, expect to pay between $150 and $330. Cleaning a 20 panel 3kW system will cost on average, $500 to $750. If you are billed per unit, expect to pay $15 to $35 per unit. and some businesses charge a flat fee.
Cleaning solar panels needs professional involvement due to the complexity of the system. Usually, the owner has a cleaning and maintenance guide for every unit. Contractors follow these instructions and warnings from the manufacturer. For safety reasons, they turn off the power before cleaning.
They prefer cloudy days because sunny weather evaporates the cleaning water and stains the panels. First, they use a soft brush to remove the dust settled on the units. Then, the professional uses clean water and a sponge using circular motions to clean them gently. They usually avoid harsh detergents, chemicals, or abrasive materials like steel wool because they might leave scratches and affect the efficiency of the system. Professionals sometimes use a water hose in the garden to spray water on the units. This ensures a uniform cleaning. They clean the unit with a soft, dry cloth to ensure no settling of any minerals that can damage them. They turn the power back on when the unit is completely dry.
Benefits of Solar Panel Cleaning
There are many benefits of solar panel cleaning. The first benefit is that it reduces the chances of damaging your systems. When being cleaned, the units require proper handling due to their sensitivity. A professional will ensure that there is minimal risk to the systems during the cleaning process. Next, while cleaning them, the professional technician provides you with complete information on the condition of your system. The specialist informs you if anything needs replacing or repairing. Cleaning is best left to the experts. Climbing on the roof can be unsafe and dangerous because electric wires run over the roof and threaten your safety. Only professionals are efficient at climbing onto the roof, cleaning the units, and climbing back down safely. Cleaning the system is as important as cleaning and servicing your car. The price is less than how much you would spend on replacement or repair if damaged.
Solar Panel Repair Cost
The average cost to repair a solar panel is influenced by the problem, ranging from $20 to $3,000. A damaged system can lead to decreased performance, electricity shorts, and even house fires. For this reason, it is important to have any problems addressed by professionals as soon as possible. The chart below highlights some of the more common problems found during the inspection and the average cost to fix them.
|Problem||Repair Cost (Labor Included)|
|Obstructing Branches||$50 - $200|
|Loose Wiring||$100 - $400|
|Hail Damage||$120 - $500/panel|
|Cracked Glass||$120 - $500/panel|
|Rust||$150 - $350|
|Cracked Panel||$150 - $500/panel|
|No Voltage||$400 - $3,000|
|Inverter Not Communicating||$500 - $3,000|
|Leak||$500 - $3,000|
Cost to Remove Solar Panels
Occasionally, solar panels need to be removed to repair them at around $2,000 to $3,000. If repairs need to be made, these are not included in the price of removal and reinstallation. It is common for people to clean their solar panels once they are removed prior to reinstallation. Over time, the glass panels get very dirty and therefore do not function efficiently. The average cost of cleaning solar panels is $15 to $35 per panel.
Solar Panel Replacement Cost
You can expect to pay $15,000 to $21,000 for the replacement of solar panels, compared to $400 to $1,000 for the repair. Your final cost will depend on how many units need to be replaced. They often last beyond their expected lifespan of 20 years. Expect new and advanced models to last about 50 years. These need replacement only if they break beyond repair, are physically damaged by wind, debris, or other factors, like them, showing inefficiency and declined energy production, or poor racking or bad weather caused damage.
Solar Panel Warning Signs
If your solar panel is producing electricity at the same rate it did when it was new, you should not be concerned about maintenance. The primary sign of a problem with your system is decreased output. If your electricity use has remained constant and you find yourself purchasing more electricity from the grid, you will want to schedule cleaning and/or inspection and find out what is responsible for the decreased performance. Your system also features a small green monitor light which should always be shining continuously. If this light turns on or begins flashing, your system has a problem.
Enhancement and Improvement Costs
Solar Panel Cleaning Sprinkler
Expect to pay about $2,260 for a sprinkler-based solar cleaning system for around 50 panels. A one-time installation cost eliminates an ongoing labor cost incurred for manual cleaning of the system. A sprinkler-based system is constructed to be maintained at a low cost, making sure that they are cleaned regularly for optimal performance. This system is designed with nozzles situated every few units. The sprinkler-based systems are equipped with adjustable frequency and independently programmed rinse and wash cycles. They require no tools, and the unit cleaning happens just by gravity. Once the system is installed and programmed, it does not require much maintenance except replacing the filters and refilling the soap every so often.
Solar Panel Cleaning Robot
Expect to pay a price of $0.20 to $0.25 per kW for robotic solar panel cleaning systems. However, the approximate cost of the cleaning robot is $2,900 for 10 to 99 sets. The automated cleaning system does not need the installation of water tanks, water pipes, or electrical cables to charge or power the robot since it is energy-independent. Cleaning robots possess the capacity to wash your units daily, mostly without the use of water. These usually run on solar energy as each robot has its own panel. Cleaning robots use microfiber brushes to wipe off dirt and dust from them. They use a battery and a photovoltaic unit for energy storage, which allows them to clean during the night. The proper positioning of panels under the rails helps to ensure that the units are cleaned by the robots
Solar Panel Bird Mesh
DIY Kits, including mesh and clips for easy installation, typically cost $60 to $200. Bird mesh installation is a wire netting installed alongside the panels to keep birds from nesting under them. A solar installation on your roof offers a prime nesting site for visiting birds. Unfortunately, this can cause many problems: they may peck at exposed wiring, leave droppings that eat away at the surface of the systems, and cause overheating issues by filling ventilation gaps with twigs, feathers, and other debris.
Additional Considerations and Costs
- Local job discount. Those living within a 20-mile radius of the contractor’s location will pay a lower minimum fee than those living farther away.
- Warranty. Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels typically come with a 20-year warranty, which ensures that the units generate at least 80% of the rated power even after 20 years of use. It is known that PV models tend to devalue approximately 1% every year.
- Lease vs own. If you decide to lease your system, then regular maintenance and repairs are the responsibility of the solar company. If you own your system, you are likely responsible.
- Freezing temperatures. Freezing weather can be very challenging for your solar panels because they could freeze. Some modern thermal heating systems use antifreeze (propylene glycol or ethylene glycol) solutions to work around the temperature issue.
- Roof replacement. If you need to replace the roof, the solar panels need to be professionally removed, or you might opt to do it yourself. Generally, a contractor charges $2,500 for removal and reinstallation. However, this might vary based on a few factors, including the size of the roof, the size of the panel, and accessibility to the roof. Also, during the switchover, there will be no generation of power.
- Monitoring equipment. Most of the solar panel systems consist of monitoring equipment either included or bought as an add-on. The monitoring equipment helps you keep an eye on the energy production and usage, informing you whether your system is performing as per expectations.
- Monitoring equipment light. The monitoring equipment has a green light which is always on. If you notice that the light shuts off completely or begins flashing, this means that your system needs inspection and possible repair. The process of monitoring solar panels also includes accessing data and reports from downloading important information from an online portal on your computer.
- Insurance. If your dealer or installer has Powerguard insurance, you should have the most common repairs covered for a given warranty period. This coverage typically includes both components and labor.
- Damage covered by insurance. If your solar panel is damaged by a downed tree limb or inclement weather, your homeowner’s insurance should cover a good portion of repairs. This is something you should check when you are getting your units installed. Do be aware that homeowner’s insurance will not usually cover cleaning or maintenance.
- How often should solar panels be cleaned?
Solar panels should be inspected and cleaned at a minimum of once every 12 months.
- Does cleaning your solar panels make a difference?
Yes, regular cleaning prevents the buildup of any debris, dirt, and residue and helps to keep the panels operating optimally 24/7. A model that is dirty can lose up to 25% of its energy-yielding capabilities.
- Do solar panels require maintenance?
They are generally very durable and require little maintenance. A quality panel lasts around 25 to 30 years with minimal maintenance.
- What is the best way to clean my solar panels?
The best way to clean your solar panels is using clean water, a coarse cloth with spongy covering for little scrubbing, a soft brush, and lastly, some elbow grease. These should remove the most stubborn stains and grime.
- Can you pressure wash your roof with panels?
We do not recommend high-pressure washing for your solar panels. A high-pressure attachment can result in impact damage and push water in between the frame and glass, delivering moisture to vulnerable areas.
- How do you maintain solar panels?
Professionally cleaning your panels once a year and scheduling an inspection every twelve months or after typhoons, hurricanes, or other bad weather is the most effective way to maintain your units.
- Do solar PV panels need maintenance?
PV panels, like all solar systems, need regular cleaning and inspection for optimal performance.
- How often do solar panels and systems need maintenance?
Under most circumstances, yearly cleaning and inspection are all the maintenance a solar system needs.
- How do you remove snow from solar panels?
Most experts recommend that you do not remove snow from solar panels. The warmth of the unit and the angle at which it is installed mean snow will melt faster than on the rest of the roof; even faster than on the ground. If you do feel a need to hurry the process, you can brush loose snow off the surface with a broom or similar tool. Do not attempt to scrape off ice or hardened snow.
The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources. For more information, read our Methodology and sources.