Solar panels are a costly long-term investment you should be keen to protect. The durable, low-maintenance energy source has a lifespan of 25 years or more, and most feature automatic monitoring technology to alert you of low efficiency. One of the best ways to protect your investment and ensure your solar system operates at peak performance is to schedule biannual cleanings.
You can expect to spend between $300 to $635, or a national average of $465, for each solar panel cleaning service.
In this pricing guide, we’ll cover:
- Average Costs
- What is Solar Panel Maintenance?
- Cost Estimator By Number of Panels
- Flat Rate Cost Estimator
- Other Factors That Affect Cost
- Efficiency Impact Factors
- Related Services
- Pro Cost vs. DIY Cost
- Cost By Location
Average Costs of Solar Panel Cleaning
|National Average Cost
|Typical Price Range
|$300 – $635
|Extreme Low-End Cost
|Extreme High-End Cost
Cleaning costs for your photovoltaic (PV) system fall between $300 to $635, but many factors can add additional costs. Professional roof cleaning companies charge a minimum of $100 per service, regardless of how small your array is. On the other hand, a 40-panel array on a sprawling 5,000-square-foot home could set you back as much as $1,100 per service.
What is Solar Panel Maintenance?
Experts recommend scheduling professional solar panel cleaning services twice per year, and cleaning is a condition of many solar panel warranty terms. Cleaning is part of your annual solar panel maintenance plan. Most maintenance plans include biannual cleanings and a yearly inspection.
If your roofing contractor discovers related repairs during your inspection, it is important to have them completed as soon as possible to maximize your system’s efficiency.
Solar Panel Cleaning Cost Estimator By Number of Panels
Solar panels measure approximately 65 inches by 39 inches and weigh around 40 pounds each. Every home’s solar energy system is unique depending on the number of kilowatt-hours of energy production needed to cover household energy demands. The average U.S. home has 20 to 25 solar panels in its array, the equivalent of a 9-kW system.
Cleaning needs vary depending on your location and solar panel manufacturer. Dirty solar panels lose up to 30% of their output efficiency. However, if you live in a temperate climate with more rainfall, you may need to clean less frequently than if you live in a drier, dustier area. The typical cost of having solar panels professionally cleaned ranges from $300 to $635 for 20- to 25-panel systems, or around $13 to $25 per panel.
Take a look at the common per-panel cleaning cost for popular arrays:
Flat Rate Cleaning Cost Estimator
Many companies offer flat-rate cleaning services. These services include a set number of solar panels, with additional panels costing extra. You can expect to spend between $190 to $475 for 15 to 25 panels. Flat-rate services include materials, labor, and transportation costs. Depending on the level of cleaning needed and the accessibility of your system, cleaning services typically take 1.5 to 2 hours to complete.
Other Factors That Affect Cost
Solar panel systems require little maintenance, and smart systems alert you to potential issues. Overall, consider the following factors affecting your total cost:
- Location: Higher cost of living in areas like New York or California affects the overall cost of your cleaning service.
- Size: The number of solar panels in your array affects labor costs.
- Accessibility: One-story houses cost less than solar panel systems on two-story homes. Additionally, the slope of your roof and the ease of access directly affect your total cost.
- Frequency: The level of dirt and grime buildup on your system affects cost. Extremely dirty panels requiring additional labor to clean will cost more than those on a regular cleaning schedule.
Labor Cost to Clean Solar Panels
A professional solar panel cleaning service washes your solar array, ensuring it is clear of dirt and grime to maintain optimal performance. Overall, you will spend around 60% of your total project costs on labor, with the average cost of solar panel cleaning falling between $100 to $150 per hour.
Labor rates depend on your location, the experience of the solar panel cleaners, the complexity of your roof, and additional work like window washing and gutter cleaning. Solar panel cleaning companies often perform other outdoor cleaning services like window cleaning and gutter clean out, and many window-washing companies clean residential solar panels.
Factors That Impact Efficiency
Solar power needs sunlight to operate, and anything getting in between your solar panels and the sun’s rays reduces your system’s overall efficiency, costing you money. Luckily, most buildup washes away with consistent rainfall. However, it is always a good idea to have your solar panels cleaned to ensure peak performance.
Here are some factors that impact your solar installation efficiency:
- Climate: Most dirt and debris washes away with rainfall, but homeowners living in dryer regions may need to schedule more consistent cleaning services.
- Pollution: Homeowners living in areas of high smog need to clean their systems more frequently. Smog deposits a layer of grime onto the panels’ surface while the haze created by pollution blocks sunlight’s full potential.
- Organic debris: Some residue doesn’t wash away as easily during rainstorms. Tree sap, bird droppings, and pitch, also known as tree resin, can form hard deposits that require a cleaning solution to loosen.
- Pollen: Pollen occurs during the spring through the fall, creating a hazy green film over solar panels that reduces their efficiency.
Routine solar panel cleaning should be part of your larger solar panel maintenance plan. Consider these related services.
Cleaning your solar panel system is all about maintaining its efficiency. There’s no better way to ensure your system is operating at peak performance than to have it professionally inspected. Roofing companies suggest having your solar system inspected once per year to maintain optimal power output and keep your warranty in good standing.
You can expect to spend between $150 to $325 for a thorough solar panel inspection. Your inspector will check all components, including wiring, panels, mounting racks, critical load panels, and inverters. They will look for corrosion, loose wires, cracked glass, loose bolts or screws, and more. They also will advise on necessary tree trimming, so your solar energy system can operate at peak performance.
While most inspections return nothing, it is always important to perform repairs as quickly as possible.
Solar Panel Repairs
Most solar panel systems signal when it is time for a repair, featuring smart monitoring systems that alert you when efficiency drops. Still, some repairs will surprise you during your annual inspection.
Cracked glass and loose wires are the most common and least expensive repairs, while an inverter replacement and installation costs can set you back as much as $2,300. Most solar panels continue to operate at reduced efficiency with cracked glass. Taking into consideration the severity of your repair needs, expect to spend between $200 to $1,800 on solar panel repairs.
Here’s a look at some of the most common repairs:
|Average Cost*includes labor
|$20 – $120
|Cracked glass or hail damage
|$120 – $475 per panel
|$100 – $400
|$150 – $350
|$315 – $700
|$1,100 – $2,300
|$1,000 – $2,000
|$1,200 – $1,800
Solar Panel Cleaning Benefits
Solar panels are a source of renewable energy that covers nearly 100% of your home’s energy demands, lowers your utility bills, and reduces your grid reliance. While solar installation has high upfront costs, maintenance needs and costs are relatively low throughout the system’s long lifespan. Regularly maintaining and cleaning your solar system provides many benefits, including:
- Improved efficiency
- Longer lifespan
- Increased curb appeal
- Good-standing warranty
Pro Cost vs. DIY Cost
Professional solar panel maintenance is your best option. It is worth the cost, even if annual maintenance is not part of your warranty agreement. A professional can detect repair issues more easily before major problems occur.
It is always advisable to seek the help of a trained professional if you do not feel comfortable performing your own home maintenance or repairs. But if you do DIY, there are several solar panel cleaning tools you can invest in to lower your annual cost of cleaning.
|Automatic cleaning system
|Autonomous cleaning robot
|$50 – $250
|$30 – $150
|$30 – $75
With solar panel cleaning, the most important thing to remember is always clean from the ground. You have several DIY cleaning options for your home solar panel system. The most inexpensive method is to use a water-fed pole and brush system to remove dirt and buildup without leaving residue.
Automatic Cleaning System
For a more expensive solution, you can install an automatic cleaning system. These systems cost around $2,250. The roof sprinkler system rinses your roof at your desired frequency, eliminating cleaning needs almost entirely.
Autonomous Cleaning Robot
Solar panel cleaning robots will set you back around $3,000. These autonomous systems wash your panels daily without water, making them a conservationist’s best friend. Most robots run on solar energy and are becoming increasingly popular in dry climates.
Cost of Solar Panel Cleaning By Location
Solar panel cleaning costs vary widely depending on location, cost of living, and the complexity of your roof. There is no way to know exactly what your cleaning services will cost without receiving free quotes from professional roof and window washing companies in your area.
FAQ About Solar Panel Cleaning
No. A pressure washer can damage your solar system, leading to moisture damage or leaks. A soft brush, water, and soap are all you need to clean your solar panels.
Removing snow is unnecessary in most situations. For northern climates with heavy annual snowfall, homeowners can invest in a snow rake designed specifically for solar panels. These cost between $35 to $150. However, the heat generated by your solar system suffices to melt the snow while its angle allows the snow to slide down its surface.
If you have hard water, it is best to have your solar system professionally cleaned. Hard water results in mineral deposits on the surface of your solar panels, reducing efficiency. Professional cleaning companies in areas of hard water operate with a tank of clean water, reducing the mineral content.
Find a Solar Panel Cleaning Pro Near You
Routine solar panel cleaning increases your system’s efficiency, saving you money. Going solar is a large investment, and it is only smart to protect your investment by keeping it at peak operating performance. You can expect to spend between $300 to $635, or a national average of $465, for solar panel cleaning services.
If you are ready to have a local professional clean your system, RoofGnome connects you to the best solar panel cleaning pros in your area.