Exterior Energy & Power Solar

How Much Does Solar Panel Cleaning Cost?

Dust, pollen, and other particles can accumulate over time, making solar panels filthy and reducing their efficiency. The average solar panel cleaning cost is $150 to $630.
How Much Does Solar Panel Cleaning Cost?

Photo: istockphoto.com

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn More ›

Highlights

  • Solar panel cleaning costs typically average $150 to $630.
  • The size and type of system, the number of panels, accessibility, labor rates, and level of debris buildup are some of the main factors that influence the cost of solar panel cleaning.
  • Regular solar panel cleaning enhances system performance and efficiency, reduces the risk of long-term damage, increases lifespan, and can help maintain warranty coverage
  • Solar panels are usually placed in less-accessible areas, which makes hiring a professional solar panel cleaning service the safer option for homeowners who are uncomfortable working on a roof. Some warranties also require homeowners to use a professional cleaning service to maintain coverage.
Give your solar panels a good clean
Don't DIY it, though. Get free, no-commitment project estimates from solar panel cleaning services near you.
+

Rays of sunshine can do more than just warm the air and promote plant life. With the right tools, the sun’s energy can be harnessed and converted to solar power. Solar panel systems are beneficial for lowering energy bills and supporting green initiatives that focus on clean, renewable energy sources. However, when the solar panels get too dirty, then the efficiency at which the system absorbs solar energy can be significantly reduced.

“Solar panels are responsible for capturing the sun’s rays to be converted into electricity that can power your home,” explains Will White, solar application specialist with Fluke Corporation, a producer of test and measurement instruments for solar equipment. “Any debris that limits or completely blocks the sunlight from reaching and being absorbed by the panels needs to be removed to keep the system performing at its best.”

To avoid this drop in efficiency, solar experts recommended scheduling solar panel cleaning about once or twice a year. According to HomeAdvisor, professional solar panel cleaning costs about $150 to $630 depending on the size of the system, the number of solar panels, the level of debris buildup, and other factors. Homeowners can explore the various factors affecting solar panel cleaning cost before putting together a budget to cover ongoing cleaning and solar panel maintenance.

How Much Does Solar Panel Cleaning Cost?
Photo: istockphoto.com

Factors in Calculating Solar Panel Cleaning Cost

The average solar panel cleaning cost can vary based on several primary factors. Typically, the cost of solar panel cleaning ranges from $150 to $630, but the price could be slightly lower for smaller systems with fewer panels. Similarly, if the system is easy to access and has been recently cleaned, then the cost and associated labor fees will be in the lower price range.

Clean solar panels can mean better efficiency—and more savings
Don't DIY it, though. Get free, no-commitment project estimates from solar panel cleaning services near you.
+

Panel Size and Type

One of the first things for homeowners to consider when budgeting for solar panel maintenance cost is the size and type of solar panel system. Generally, the larger the system, the longer it will take to clean, leading to higher solar panel cleaning prices.

Homeowners are encouraged to check the type of solar panel system they have and the manufacturer’s warranty. This information will help determine the appropriate type of cleaning methods, equipment, and cleaning products that are safe to use on the solar panels. Some warranties even require homeowners to have their solar panels cleaned by a professional company to keep the warranty valid. The cost to clean solar panels may fluctuate depending on the type of cleaning method and necessary solar panel cleaning equipment.

Number of Panels

The number of solar panels can also influence the cleaning cost since it takes longer to clean 20 panels than to clean only 10. Generally, homeowners can put together a budget for this job by counting the number of solar panels and multiplying that number by the average cleaning cost per panel.

Typically, cleaning solar panel systems will cost about $15 to $25 per panel. The average solar panel system ranges from 10 to 25 solar panels, so the calculation works out to between $150 and $625. Before investing in one of the best solar panel cleaning services, homeowners can ask for quotes to ensure a fair price is offered for the work.

Number of PanelsAverage Cost (Materials and Labor)
10$150 to $250
15$225 to $375
20$300 to $500
25$375 to $625

Debris Buildup Level

Homeowners who like to clean their own windows will know that the longer the dirt and grime accumulates on the windows, the harder it is to clean them. The same is true for solar panels, which is why the level of built-up debris can affect the overall cost of the job. “Contaminants like dust, pollen, and leaves could reduce panel efficiency,” warns White.

If the solar panels have never been cleaned or they have not been serviced in a few years, then the layers of dirt, dust, and debris will take more time and effort to remove. This will increase the labor cost associated with the job, and it may also increase the cost of supplies if the solar panel cleaners need additional cleaning solutions or specialized equipment. For the most accurate quote, the homeowner can request an on-site estimate if the current state of the solar panels is a concern.

System Location and Accessibility

Solar panel systems are often installed on the roof, which is a great location for absorbing the sun’s rays. However, it’s less than ideal for cleaning. An experienced residential or commercial solar panel cleaning crew can handle almost any roof pitch and style, but that capability doesn’t mean that an overly steep or dangerous roof won’t incur a higher cost.

The harder it is for the cleaners to access the solar panels, the longer it will take for them to clean the panels, driving up the labor costs for the job. Similarly, if the cleaning crew requires any special equipment to access the solar panel array, then the price for the cleaning will increase. Conversely, if the solar system is easy to reach and the roof isn’t steeply pitched, then the cleaning cost could be lower.

Labor

Hiring a crew of trained professionals is the easiest way for homeowners to ensure the solar panel system is properly cleaned and maintained without risking injury to themselves. The solar panel cleaners will be able to remove any stuck-on dirt or debris as well as perform a basic inspection that can help identify problems with the system or damage that requires repair.

The labor hours for cleaning, inspecting, and maintaining solar panel arrays typically accounts for about 60 percent of the project budget. On average, a professional solar panel cleaner will charge about $100 to $150 per hour. Most solar panel companies will have a minimum fee of about $100, regardless of the size of the system or the number of panels.

Geographic Location

When it’s time to find a solar panel cleaning company, most people start by searching online for “solar panel cleaners near me” before narrowing down the options based on pricing, services offered, company reputation, and customer appeal. If the home is located beyond about a 20-mile radius, then there is a chance companies may add a travel fee to the total cost.

The population density and demand for solar panel cleaning services can also affect the average cost of this project. Generally, the cost of cleaning solar panels will be higher in dense urban centers with a higher rate of demand, while the same service often costs less in a widespread rural town.

How Much Does Solar Panel Cleaning Cost?
Photo: istockphoto.com

Additional Costs and Considerations

For solar panels to work at maximum efficiency, cleaning is a project that’s recommended once or twice a year, depending on how dirty the solar panels get throughout the year. However, there may be additional costs to consider if the system requires an inspection, solar panel repair, or if the home is located outside the usual service area. Some homeowners may choose to invest in an annual maintenance agreement if they don’t know how to clean solar panels or are uncomfortable working on ladders and roofs.

Maintenance Agreement

Solar panels don’t need a lot of extra care and maintenance to keep them functioning properly, but if the panels are scratched, cracked, or filthy, then the system will deteriorate and lose efficiency. That’s why many homeowners choose to sign up for an ongoing maintenance package with a professional solar panel cleaning and maintenance company.

The cost of maintenance packages varies among companies, so before homeowners invest in a maintenance agreement, it’s recommended that they research at least three reputable companies in their area. By signing a maintenance agreement, homeowners can receive regular cleaning, inspection, and repair services to keep the solar system in good condition for years to come.

Solar Panel Inspection

Even the best solar panels can get scratched, chipped, cracked, or otherwise damaged, so it’s important to have the solar system inspected annually. If the homeowner has invested in a maintenance agreement, then the solar panel maintenance company will typically conduct a brief inspection each time they clean the solar panels.

Beyond checking for damages, a solar panel inspection includes checking the overall efficiency and performance of the system. One-time inspections will generally cost about $150, although homeowners with a maintenance agreement may pay less for this service. If the crew finds a problem with the solar panel’s wiring or notices that one or more of the panels are damaged, then they will likely suggest replacement or repair to resolve the issue before it worsens.

Solar Panel Repairs

Depending on the type of damage, the average cost to repair a solar panel ranges from $200 to $1,250. Common wiring problems and broken panels are usually covered in this price range, but it will cost much more to repair inverter problems. Resolving obstructing branches could cost just $50. When problems are left unaddressed, they can cause a domino effect of other problems until the system no longer functions. Damages are often discovered when the solar panels are being cleaned or inspected. Some problems like loose wiring can be fixed immediately, while a separate appointment may be needed to take care of more complex problems or if replacement parts need to be ordered.

Type of Solar Panel RepairsAverage Cost (Materials and Labor)
Cracked glass$120 to $500 per panel
Cracked panel$150 to $500 per panel
Faulty inverter$500 to $3,000
Hail damage$120 to $500 per panel
Leaky panels$500 to $3,000
Loose wiring$100 to $400
Obstructing branches$50 to $200
Rusted parts$150 to $350
Voltage irregularities$400 to $3,000

Travel Fees

The average solar panel cleaning service cost may increase if the home is located outside of the service company’s area. Typically, the service area extends in a 20-mile radius of the contractor’s location. If the home is nearby, a company will not typically charge a travel fee.

Before hiring a solar panel cleaning company, homeowners can speak to the customer service staff to determine if there is a travel fee. If the homeowner needs emergency work on the weekends or during a holiday, then there may be an extra fee added to the total cost of the work.

How Much Does Solar Panel Cleaning Cost?
Photo: istockphoto.com

Benefits of Regular Solar Panel Cleaning

Any upgrade, repair, or maintenance work around the home typically requires a financial investment and a time commitment to complete. It’s easy for homeowners to wonder if solar panels are worth it when combined with ongoing maintenance costs. Fortunately, solar panels are typically a great investment to reduce energy bills and appeal to prospective home buyers. Additionally, there are several benefits of regular solar panel cleaning, such as improved system performance, increased efficiency, and a longer lifespan for the panels themselves.

Keep your solar panels working at their best
Get free, no-commitment project estimates from solar panel cleaning services near you.
+

Improved System Performance and Efficiency

When dirt, dust, and other debris obscure the solar panels, the equipment cannot absorb the maximum amount of energy from the sun, leading to a reduction of performance and efficiency. By hiring a crew of solar panel cleaners at least once a year, homeowners can ensure that the solar panels operate as efficiently as possible.

Additionally, if the solar panel system is not kept clean and free of debris, then there is a chance that damage may go unnoticed. Solar panel cleaning can take place at the same time as an inspection appointment that checks for any chips, cracks, faulty wiring, or other damages. Depending on the company, homeowners may be able to bundle these services together to get a reduced rate for the work.

“If you live in a particularly dusty climate such as areas of Texas or Oklahoma, you may find that your panel efficiency is more regularly and drastically impacted by debris and more frequent cleanings are necessary,” says White. “During certain seasons, homeowners may see the need to clean their panels more frequently, such as in the fall when trees are shedding their leaves. Regular system inspections are a critical part of ongoing panel maintenance to identify any faults. Panel cleaning can be easily done in tandem with these inspections.”

Reduced Risk of Damage

Dust and dirt may not seem like a big issue, but grains of sand and other debris can scratch the surface of the solar panels, leaving micro-abrasions that reduce the efficiency of the solar panel system. By hiring a professional cleaning company to clean the solar panels at least once a year, homeowners can keep the system operating efficiently and address minor damage as it happens.

“Solar systems require regularly scheduled maintenance, including visual inspections, module cleaning, system performance tests, and tree trimming, to maintain optimal system performance and ensure faults are detected early and addressed quickly,” explains White. “Problems can arise due to infrequent maintenance, which can result in reduced energy generation, expensive repair costs, and lower financial returns for the customer.”

Increased Lifespan

Regular maintenance is necessary for ensuring the solar panel system lasts as long as possible before requiring replacement. Cleaning the solar panels is essential for ensuring the system’s performance and efficiency and protecting it from damaging elements. Typically, solar panels will last about 20 to 25 years. The frequency of cleaning and repairs directly affects whether the homeowner will need to replace the panels after a decade or if they will last beyond two decades.

According to White, “Regularly cleaning your solar panels will extend the longevity of your system. Dust particles and other environmental debris build-up contribute to wear and tear of the solar panels, ultimately decreasing the efficiency your panels are capable of.”

System Warranty Maintenance

Warranties are intended to protect the homeowner’s investment in the solar panel system. They also provide information on how to operate the solar panel array and prevent damage. As White explains, “Some solar panel installation companies and manufacturers even have regular cleaning specified as a part of their warranty offering.” Regular solar panel cleaning, repair, and maintenance by a professional company may be required to keep the warranty valid.

Other system warranties may spell out the exact frequency of cleaning, type of cleaning, type of cleaning products, approved companies, and more. With this in mind, homeowners are advised to read and understand the information presented in the warranty; otherwise, they may accidentally void the warranty.

Solar Panel Cleaning: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional 

DIYers can lightly spray water on their solar panels from a garden hose (pressure-washing is not recommended) to remove some dust from the panels. This task can be done in a pinch after a dust-filled thunderstorm, but it’s not sufficient to truly clean the panels. Nor does it offer a chance to have the system inspected for damage or wiring problems.

According to White, “Homeowners can clean debris like bird dropping and leaves off their panels by simply washing them with water from a well-angled garden hose. For extra cleaning power, a long-handled squeegee can do the trick. A homeowner’s ability to clean their panel array depends on the angle of their roof, the roof height, and panel placement.”

If a homeowner wants to clean their solar panels themselves, they’ll want to consider timing. As White explains, “It’s recommended to clean your array in the morning or late afternoon when the modules are cool. Do not spray cold water on a hot array; it may damage the modules. Do not use abrasive cleaners on the modules because it could damage the coatings on the module glass.”

Homeowners will want to check the product warranty to determine what cleaning methods are approved. Many typical cleaning products leave behind a residue on the panels that interferes with the efficiency of the system. This can reduce efficiency and in some cases, void the warranty.

Due to the potential risk of working on a roof and the chance of accidentally damaging the solar panels, it’s recommended that homeowners hire a crew of trained professionals. As White advises, “If you can’t safely reach your panels with the hose or an extended squeegee, call a professional to get the job done safely. And, when it comes to doing any thorough cleaning and maintenance, it’s best to hire a professional who is trained in OSHA safety requirements, ensuring they use equipment like fall protection when on the roof or electrical safety equipment when working on energized systems.”

Not only will they have the proper safety equipment to access the solar panels on the roof, but they have the expertise to thoroughly inspect the solar panel system. Depending on the company, ongoing maintenance packages may be offered, so homeowners can feel confident knowing that the solar panel system is receiving the best care possible.

This is no DIY job
Get free, no-commitment project estimates from solar panel cleaning services near you.
+

How to Save Money on Solar Panel Cleaning Cost

Solar panel systems are an investment that can help to reduce household energy costs while supporting renewable energy initiatives. In order for the solar panel array to continue working properly, the panels need to be cleaned about once a year, which can cost between $150 and $630. While this cost isn’t nearly as high as the price to repair solar panels, it’s still a good idea to look for ways to save money. Before hiring a solar panel cleaning company, homeowners can consider these methods for reducing the cost of solar panel maintenance.

  • Shop around for deals. Homeowners can speak to several local companies to see which one offers better solar panel cleaning deals throughout the year.
  • Invest in a regular maintenance package. Spending more up front with a regular maintenance package can help homeowners reduce the cost of cleaning appointments, inspections, and repairs.
  • Book during the off-season.Solar panel cleaning usually takes place during the warmer seasons, but homeowners may get a reduced rate if they book in early spring or late fall.
  • Increase the cleaning frequency. Overly dirty solar panels take longer to clean, driving up the labor costs. Having the solar panels regularly cleaned can help homeowners reduce the cleaning and repair costs that can add up if these tasks are neglected for years.
  • Make repairs as soon as possible. Fixing or replacing damaged solar panels will ensure the ongoing functionality of the solar array system, leading to reduced energy costs for the entire household.

Questions to Ask About Solar Panel Cleaning

There are certain tasks around the home that are better suited for professionals, such as solar panel cleaning, but this doesn’t mean a homeowner can’t understand the process and potential costs involved. During the vetting process, homeowners can speak to the solar panel cleaning crew and customer service staff to find the answers to the following important questions.

  • Are you licensed, bonded, and insured?
  • How long has the company been in business?
  • When did the company start offering solar panel cleaning services?
  • Do you have references available?
  • What kind of equipment do you use?
  • Do you use eco-friendly products?
  • Can I get an up-front estimate?
  • What kind of warranties or guarantees are offered?
  • Can you provide a detailed cleaning plan?
  • What is your availability?
  • How long will the job take?
  • Are there any issues I should be concerned about?
  • Do you offer regular maintenance packages?
  • Will the same cleaners perform the service each time?
  • What safety precautions will you take?

FAQs

Solar panel cleaning is an important part of maintaining a solar panel array. Dirty solar panels don’t work as well as clean solar panels, which reduces the overall efficiency of the system. Homeowners can learn more about solar panel cleaning by reviewing answers to some frequently asked questions.

Q. How often do you need to clean solar panels?

In most cases, the solar panels should be cleaned at least once a year. If the home is located in an area that experiences frequent dust storms or excessive pollen blooms, then the solar panels may need to be cleaned once every 6 months to ensure they are operating efficiently. The cost of solar panels is not insignificant, which is why it’s important to invest in regular cleaning and maintenance to ensure optimal performance.

“As a general rule of thumb, solar panels should be thoroughly cleaned at least once per year to prevent debris buildup,” recommends White. “Many solar installation companies will offer cleaning as a part of ongoing maintenance service. However, depending on where you are located, your solar panels may require more frequent cleaning.”

Q. Do dirty solar panels generate electricity?

Yes, to a degree. They are still capable of absorbing energy from the sun and converting it to usable electricity, but the overall energy output of a dirty system can drop by as much as 20 to 50 percent.

Q. How long do solar panels last?

Solar panels are designed to last at least as long as the warranty period. For most brands, the panels will last between 20 to 25 years, though lower-quality brands may only last 10 to 12 years. However, if the solar panel system is regularly cleaned, repaired, and maintained, it may be able to last beyond this 25-year mark.

Sources: HomeAdvisor, Roof Gnome, Fixr, Solar Panel Cleaners, Yelp