Solar Panel Maintenance: What You Need to Know

Solar panels are one of the easiest ways to generate renewable energy. They require little maintenance to function properly. Residential solar panels are built to withstand the natural elements and usually come with a warranty of 25-30 years. They just need to be cleaned periodically and kept out of the shade for maximum output. There are some things you can do every once in a while to ensure they last for their typical lifespan of 25-30 years. In this article, we cover solar panel maintenance and how to keep your solar photovoltaic (PV) system in tip-top shape!


Do solar panels require maintenance?

Yes, solar panels require regular maintenance to keep them operating at maximum efficiency. A periodic light cleaning can keep dirt, dust, and other debris from accumulating on your panels. 

Debris accumulation can impact how much energy your solar PV panels generate. A dirty solar panel won’t be able to produce as much solar energy as a clean solar panel. Solar panel cleaning increases output and the amount of solar energy you generate.

If you live in an area where it snows, you should clean off heavy snowfall since it can obstruct the sun and cause a decrease in energy production.  

Make sure to periodically check on your solar inverter. Ensure the indicator lights on the inverter indicate that everything is working properly. If you see a system error indicator light get in touch with the solar inverter manufacturer.

It is also important to note what type of shade coverage your panels deal with throughout the day. It is best if the solar PV panels are free from obstructions and out of the shade. Even light shade can dramatically decrease your energy production rates. In some cases, it may be impossible to keep solar panels out of the shade, but do the best you can to keep them free from shade. Trim or remove trees if you can. Check on shade coverage every year since the amount of shade your solar panels receive may change from year to year.


What kind of maintenance do solar panels require?

It is recommended that you clean your panels two to four times a year. If your solar panels are tilted, relying on the rain to clean your panels may just be enough and you’ll just need to clean them during dry periods. Heavy rainfall is highly effective at cleaning solar panels, while a light rainfall may actually have the opposite effect and you may need to clean your solar energy system after a light rain event.

There are three options for cleaning solar panels: clean them yourself, hire a solar panel cleaning service, or install a self-cleaning system. Cleaning them yourself is, of course, the most economical choice, but the other two may be a better choice for your situation.

If your PV panels are located in a hard-to-reach spot or cleaning them would be dangerous and inconvenient for you, you may want to hire a solar cleaning service to get them clean. If you do hire professional help, make sure they do not use abrasive cleaners as they can damage solar panels.

An automated solar cleaning system is a good option for solar maintenance because it can be remotely controlled and you can set the panels to be cleaned as often as you like. Some automatic cleaners will clean your panels with purified water and even alert you of faults. 

If you live in an area where you experience snowfalll in the winter consider cleaning them after a heavy snowfall. Use a squeegee and lukewarm water. Just like your car windshield, adding hot water to the cold glass surface of a solar panel can cause it to crack and you may end up needing a solar panel repair.


Can you use pressure washer on solar panels?

In general, it is not advisable to use a pressure washer on solar panels. While solar panels are durable and made to withstand hail, snow, and rain they can be damaged when cleaned with a pressure washer. Your solar panel manufacturer warranty does not cover that type of damage and a solar repair can be costly. A pressure washer is great for the exterior parts of your house, like the rooftop and the gutters, but not for cleaning solar panels. 

The ideal way to wash you solar panels is with a soft sponge, squeegee, and a bucket of soapy water (light on the soap). You don’t want to scratch the surface of the panels so use a non-abrasive sponge. If you clean the panels yourself make sure you hose off all soap residue and use a squeegee at the end of the process. For a step-by-step guide to cleaning your solar panels yourself go here.


How do professionals clean solar panels?

A professional solar panel cleaning service will usually use filtered water, specialized cleaning tools, and soft brushes. They more than likely have the experience and knowledge to get your panels squeaky clean. Hiring professionals is a good way to protect your investment and also keep you safe if your panels are located in an area where it would be dangerous for you to clean them yourself. 


How to tell when your solar panels need maintenance?

The easiest way to tell when your solar panels need maintenance is when you see a dip in output. Since the lifespan of most solar panels is 25-30 years, if you notice you’re not generating as much energy as you did a few months ago, there’s probably something wrong with the panels. Usually a simple cleaning is all it takes. 

It is recommended to track and document solar panel performance. If you track how much kilowatt-hours (kWhs) your panels produce each month, then you’ll know right away when something is wrong. 


How much does solar panel maintenance cost?

If you clean the panels yourself, your expenses would be for your cleaning materials and water use. A solar service company will usually charge between $150 to $400 for a full solar panel cleaning. The eventual cost will depend on the size of the solar panel system.


Solar panel installation

Going solar is a good move for most homeowners. As you’ve read, solar panel maintenance is easy and inexpensive. 

If you’re looking to expand on the solar energy system you have or you’re looking to install a new one, consider partnering with WattLogic for your solar installation. WattLogic is a solar provider dedicated to providing high-quality home solar to its customers in a hassle-free way. 

WattLogic is a trusted solar installer looking to help its customers lower their carbon footprints, slash their energy costs, and help them find energy independence through renewable energy. WattLogic offers a stress-free turnkey solar package. Reach out to a WattLogic solar expert to learn how easy it is to go solar!

Vanessa Peng

Vanessa Peng

Vanessa Peng is the Marketing Coordinator at WattLogic. As a former television news reporter, Vanessa enjoys creating written and video content for WattLogic and has an interest in environmental issues.