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The Ultimate Guide to Solar Panel Maintenance

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Author Image Written by Tamara Jude Updated 03/25/2024

Solar panels are a pretty low-maintenance investment. As long as they’re installed correctly, they should produce solar power for your home with minimal effort from homeowners. We researched how much maintenance solar panels need to work at peak performance and any associated costs. Learn how to take care of your system in our solar panel maintenance guide. 

How To Maintain Solar Panels

Solar panels only require moderate cleaning. They collect the same debris as your roof, including dirt, leaves, insects, cobwebs, and the like. This is especially true after a storm or extended periods without rain. Too much debris and buildup can create a barrier on the panels that keeps them from absorbing sun the way they’re supposed to, decreasing performance and power output. 

Most solar panel maintenance is do-it-yourself (DIY). You likely need to spray your panels with lukewarm water using a garden hose to rinse them off. If deeper cleaning is required, spraying lukewarm water and wiping panels down with a clean microfiber cloth should do the trick. Avoid using hot water or pressure washers, as these could damage the solar power system.

Always use a safety harness if you’re working on your roof, and never use cleaning agents on solar panels, as this may cause damage. You should also turn your panels off before cleaning and avoid spraying water on them on a hot, sunny day since water will evaporate quickly and leave smudges. 

The only other maintenance we recommend is an annual inspection. Your solar installer will likely offer this, but if not, you can request it to ensure your solar system remains in great shape and continues generating renewable energy as promised. 

If you notice a solar panel has been damaged, contact your installer for guidance and protocol. Most solar panel components can be recycled if no longer usable, such as glass and frames. Some panel parts may have trace amounts of toxic metals that need to be disposed of at a hazardous waste facility, so don’t attempt removal and disposal until you speak with your installer.

How Often Should Solar Panels Be Maintained?

Your solar company should advise you on maintenance frequency. Two to four solar panel cleanings per year will likely be all you need. Make doing a visual check for any debris or damaged wires part of your seasonal routine. Spray down your panels in the spring and fall after winter storms and summer insects have potentially left residue behind. Clean solar panels perform the best, so it’s important to take care of them if you want to see electricity bill savings.

How To Know if Solar Panels Need Maintenance

Visible signs your solar panels need maintenance include small branches caught on panels or a heavy layer of dust or pollen. However, one of the most telling indicators is a drop in energy production. This is one of the many reasons you should track your panels’ solar energy output closely.

Solar panels decrease slightly in performance as they age, but in the first several years of use, a prolonged drop in performance is a clear sign they need more regular maintenance. 

Solar Panel Maintenance Cost

According to Home Advisor, the average cost for an annual solar panel inspection is $150. This may be all you need to spend for the year if you do the cleaning yourself. If you’re limited in mobility, can’t access your roof, or simply prefer not to clean the panels yourself, you can hire a solar professional to do the job for about $15–$20 per panel.

Expect to pay at least $100 for professional cleaning, as most contractors have a minimum fee for going up on your roof. Hiring a professional not only saves you time and effort, but also ensures a quality result. If any damage is caused during cleaning, it will be the solar company’s responsibility to correct it.

Can I Clean Solar Panels Myself?

Most homeowners can clean their own solar panels. For most cleanings, simply rinsing solar panels with a hose from the ground is sufficient. You should do this every six months. If your panels are positioned in difficult to reach places, or have been damaged, you may need to bring in an expert to clean or repair your panels.

Our Conclusion

Many aspects of getting a solar panel system can feel overwhelming, but maintenance isn’t one of them. A few checks and cleanings every year should keep your solar panels in great condition throughout their life span. Always consult your manufacturer’s manual when in doubt, and leave any maintenance you’re not confident about to a licensed professional to avoid damage that may not be covered under your warranty.

FAQ About Solar Panel Maintenance

How often do solar panels need maintenance?

Every 3-6 months you should visually inspect and clean your solar panels. We recommend hiring a solar professional to do a more thorough inspection each year and to handle any maintenance services you’re not comfortable with. 

Do solar panels require a lot of maintenance?

Solar panels don’t require a lot of maintenance. The key is keeping debris cleared away so your panels can absorb as much sunlight as possible. Some light cleaning with lukewarm water a few times a year should be all you need. 

How do you maintain solar panel efficiency?

You can maintain your solar panels’ efficiency by keeping them in good condition through regular cleanings and inspections. You can do this yourself based on the guidance in your solar panel manufacturer’s manual a few times a year, but have a licensed professional do an inspection annually to check for any damage that could affect performance. 

What is the average life of solar panels?

The average life span of solar panels is 30–35 years, but this can vary based on brand, panel type, and maintenance.

How do you clean ground-mounted solar panels?

You clean ground-mounted solar panels in the same way you would roof-mounted panels. Shut down the panels before cleaning and spray them with lukewarm water. If needed, you can use a clean, nonabrasive cloth to wipe them. Never use cleaning agents on your panels, as this may cause damage. 

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