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Solar Panel Maintenance Cost

The average cost of cleaning a solar system is $150 to $330 annually.

In this guide

Solar panel cleaning
Annual inspection
Repairs
Repair vs replace
Enhancement and improvement costs
Additional considerations and costs
FAQ

How much does it cost to maintain your solar panels?

Solar power has many benefits worth noting. Investing in a solar panel system for your roof not only reduces your electricity costs but also adds value to your property. Other advantages include protection from continually rising energy costs, reduction in carbon footprint, and protection from the carbon tax effect on the cost of electricity. To ensure that such investments stay in great shape and continue to offer benefits, it is important to have solar panels professionally maintained and cleaned on a regular basis.

The average cost of cleaning a 2kW solar system with 10 panels is $150 to $330 annually in the United States, whereas cleaning a 3kW system with 20 panels costs on average $300 to $430. On the other hand, the average cost of an annual inspection of your rooftop solar panels is typically $150 to $300.

Solar panel cleaning

Benefits

Some benefits of professional solar panel cleaning include:

  • Reduced risk of damaging your solar panels: solar panels are very sensitive and require proper handling when cleaned. A professional solar panel cleaner ensures that minimum risk occurs to the panels during cleaning.
  • Minimal cost: cleaning the system is as important as cleaning and servicing your car, and the price is less in comparison to how much you would spend on replacement or repair if damaged.
  • Information on the condition of your solar panels: while cleaning your solar panels, the professional technician provides you with complete information on the condition of your system. The specialist informs you if anything needs replacing or repairing.
  • No physical stress: climbing onto your rooftop to clean your solar panels can be unsafe and mind-racking. Some risks include electrocution due to live electric wires running over the roof and the threat to your safety due to the inaccessibility of some of the panels mounted on the roof. Only professionals are efficient at climbing onto the roof, cleaning the panels, and climbing back down safely.

Process

Cleaning solar panels needs professional involvement due to the complexity of the system. Usually, the owner has a cleaning and maintenance guide for every panel. 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 panels. Then, the professional uses clean water and a sponge using circular motions to clean the panels 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 panels. This ensures a uniform cleaning. They clean the panel with a dry and soft cloth to ensure no settling of any minerals that can cause damage to the panels. They turn the power back on when the unit is completely dry.

Labor

The average cost to clean and maintain solar panels is $150 to $330. Depending on various factors such as the size of the pane and roof pitch, professional solar panel cleaning companies charge between $15 to $35 per panel. Some businesses charge a flat rate.

The following factors may influence the costs of professional solar panel cleaning:

  • Location: most solar 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.
  • Roof pitch: the steeper your roof, the more time and labor required.
  • Size: a larger array of solar panel systems takes more time for inspection and cleaning to ensure peak performance. Also, some contractors charge a minimum fee for very small arrays.
  • Maintenance agreement: some homeowners have the alternative to bundle a cleaning and maintenance agreement when purchasing the system. Bundling lessens the annual fee.

Annual inspection

A qualified solar maintenance technician inspects your solar panels annually to ensure that your investment is worth it and functions properly. Among other tasks, they focus on:

  • Evaluating overall efficiency and performance using monitoring statistics and onsite records.
  • Carrying out a visual inspection for panel damage, moisture penetration, fractures, and frame corrosion.
  • Inspecting mounting system 1 for fixing points, framework, and module clamps for security and integrity, where accessible.
  • Inspecting cabling for measuring voltage levels and inverters for any damage.
  • Inspecting generation meter to check function and meter display.
  • Inspecting junction 2 boxes for tightness of connections, water accumulation, and integrity of seals.
  • Ensuring correct general operation of inverters, cable connections, and display functionality.
  • Inspecting rigidity and alignment of the framing system.

The average cost of an annual inspection of your rooftop solar panels is typically $150 to $300. After the inspection, the technician might suggest replacement or repair work if any of the components are broken or not working properly. This could increase the costs up to $750.

Repairs

The most typical problems found by professionals include:

ProblemPotential repair/solutionAverage cost
CorrosionReplace all severely oxidized metal parts$150-$350
Loose wiring

Fix loose wiring by cutting through the soft silicone to reach the back of the cells

Re-solder the cells with bad connections

Fix or replace the cuts and padding 3 material

$100 per hour
Cracked panels

Either fix the panels by soldering the edges to save the unit,

or consider a full replacement based on the the extent of the crack

$100-$300
Broken glass

Wrap the panel surface with a transparent laminating film,

or fix it with a silicone encapsulant

In some cases, the broken glass may require replacement

$20-$400

Tree branches obstructing sun exposure

Remove or trim the vegetation obstructing the system’s sun exposure$50-$200
Inverter not communicating

Replace the micro inverter/string inverter

A micro inverter is very expensive compared to a string inverter

$1,000-$2,000
Loose or damaged roof tilesTemporarily remove the solar panels to replace and repair the loose or damaged tiles$100-$500


Repair vs replace

The solar panels 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.
  • They are physically damaged by wind, debris, or other factors.
  • The solar panels show inefficiency and declined energy production.
  • Poor racking or bad weather caused damage.

Enhancement and improvement costs

Sprinkler-based cleaning systems

This system consists of nozzles positioned every few solar panels. The sprinkler-based systems have an adjustable frequency and independently programmed rinse and wash cycles. They require no tools, and the panel cleaning happens just by gravity. Once the system is installed and programmed, it does not need any attention except the infrequent refilling of the soap extract and replacing the water filters.

The system is designed to be maintained at a relatively low cost, ensuring that the solar panels are cleaned regularly for optimum solar generation. A one-time installation cost eliminates an ongoing labor cost incurred for manual cleaning of the solar panels. Expect to pay about $2,260 for a sprinkler-based solar cleaning system for around 50 panels.

Cleaning robots

Solar panel cleaning robots possess the capacity to wash your panels daily, mostly without the use of water. These usually run on solar energy as each robot has its own solar panel.

Cleaning robots use microfiber brushes to wipe off dirt and dust from the solar panels. They use a battery and a photovoltaic panel for energy storage, which allows them to clean during the night. And, the positioning of the panels beneath the rails ensures that they are cleaned by the robots themselves.

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. Expect to pay a price of $0.20  to $0.25 per kW for robotic solar panel cleaning systems. However, the approximate cost of a solar panel cleaning robot is $2,900 for 10 to 99 sets.   

Additional considerations and costs

  • Those living within a 20-mile radius of the contractor’s location will pay a lower minimum fee than those living farther away.
  • Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels typically come with a 20-year warranty, which ensures that the panels generate at least 80% of the rated power even after 20 years of use. The rule of thumb is that PV solar panels depreciate about 1% every year.
  • If you lease your system, the solar company is responsible for repairs and regular maintenance. If you own your system, you are likely responsible.
  • Freezing weather can be very challenging for your solar panels because they could freeze. Some modern solar thermal heating systems use antifreeze (propylene glycol or ethylene glycol) solutions to work around the temperature issue.
  • 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 $1,500 for removal and reinstallation. However, this might vary based on a few factors, including the size of the roof, the size of the solar panel, and accessibility to the roof. Also, during the switchover, there will be no generation of solar power.
  • 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.

  • The monitoring equipment has a green light which is always on. If it goes off or begins flashing 4, it is an indication that your system has stopped working and needs inspection and possibly repair. Monitoring of solar panels also involves accessing figures, data, and reports obtained from downloading information from an online portal on your computer.

FAQ

  • 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 solar panels operating optimally 24/7. A solar panel that is dirty can lose up to 25% of its energy-yielding capabilities.

  • Do solar panels require maintenance?

Solar panels are generally very durable and require little maintenance. A quality solar 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.

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Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
1 Mounting system: (Also known as Mounting) A support on which something is attached or hung
2 Junction: A fold, line, or groove where two pieces of material join together
glossary term picture Padding 3 Padding: A cushion placed under a carpet to absorb impact, thus extending the life of the carpet
glossary term picture Flashing 4 Flashing: Pieces of sheet metal used on roofs to cover joints, such as where the roof meets the wall, or around a chimney or skylight, to protect them and prevent water leaking through

Cost to maintain your solar panels varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

picture related to the guide

Labor cost by city and zip code

Compared to national average
Albany, NY
+17%
Anaheim, CA
+21%
Athens, GA
-9%
Baton Rouge, LA
+19%
Bayonne, NJ
+23%
Birmingham, AL
+6%
Boerne, TX
+7%
Bowie, MD
+16%
Broomfield, CO
-6%
Charlotte, NC
+6%
Chicago, IL
+40%
Chula Vista, CA
+8%
Concord, CA
+30%
Corona, CA
+19%
Dallas, TX
+10%
Daly City, CA
+51%
Dayton, OH
-7%
Dumfries, VA
+2%
El Paso, TX
-28%
Folsom, CA
+6%
Fort Lauderdale, FL
+2%
Fort Worth, TX
+6%
Gilbert, AZ
-2%
Grand Prairie, TX
+6%
Gresham, OR
+8%
Hampton, VA
-18%
Hiawatha, IA
+2%
Hollister, CA
-15%
Hollywood, FL
0%
Houston, TX
+24%
Indianapolis, IN
+6%
Irvine, CA
+23%
Lafayette, CO
-6%
Lakeland, FL
-13%
Las Vegas, NV
+7%
Lewisville, NC
+10%
Lubbock, TX
-22%
Lunenburg, MA
+26%
Mesa, AZ
-2%
Moreno Valley, CA
-6%
North Las Vegas, NV
+7%
O Fallon, MO
-1%
Ocala, FL
-25%
Ontario, CA
+19%
Orange, CA
+22%
Orange, MA
-8%
Orlando, FL
+2%
Peoria, AZ
-2%
Philadelphia, PA
+40%
Phoenix, AZ
0%
Labor cost in your zip code
Last modified:   
Methodology and sources