Solar panels save you money by using the sun’s energy to power your home. Keep them operating at their prime potential with professional cleaning services. Professional window cleaning companies have the skills, equipment and know-how to properly maintain your solar panels. Solar panels that aren’t properly maintained can lose up to 30 percent of their efficiency, says Brent Windsor of Window Genie of the East Valley. That can lead to higher utility bills, defeating the purpose of installing solar panels in the first place.
Industry experts recommend cleaning your solar panels twice per year to keep them at their peak. As a homeowner you can wash your solar panels yourself, but if you’re not using the right equipment or properly treated water, you can actually do more harm than good. Improper cleaning can scratch the surface or cause water stains to build up over time, diminishing the efficiency of the panels. If you have a high roof, have hard water or don’t have the proper gear, protect your investment and leave solar panel cleaning to the pros. Professional window cleaning companies may charge by the number of panels or set a flat rate.
Number of panels
Some window washing companies offer a per-panel cost when calculating your estimate for solar panel cleaning. The cost will account for employee labor, travel to your location, materials and the size of the job. Per-panel costs will also vary with the cost of living in different regions of the country. Here is one example of a per-panel price range:
From $5-$10 per panel from Crystal Clear Window Washing in Encinitas, California.
- Factors that impact the price range can include size of panel, where it’s located and accessibility.
- Pricing for a two-story house from Crystal Clear Window Washing: $8 per panel.
Window washing companies may offer a flat rate, up to a certain number of panels. The rate is calculated to include the cost of employee labor, transportation costs, materials required for the job, business overhead and regional cost factors. Windsor of Window Genie of the East Valley in Gilbert, Arizona, says that the number of panels to be cleaned matters more to the cost than the brand or style of panel. Most panels are approximately 2.5 feet wide by 4 feet tall, says Windsor. Window Genie of the East Valley calculates rates as follows:
Up to 32 solar panels: $129-$149.
- A job this size typically takes 1.5-2 hours.
Each additional panel over 32: $2.50 per panel.
- Discounts are available for commercial or large accounts that have large numbers of panels, providing a lower cost per panel.
In addition to safety, there are a number of reasons to have a pro clean your panels instead of doing it yourself. Pros use specialized brushes that are non-abrasive and won’t scratch the surface of the panels. They also use soap that is approved for use on solar panels. Ordinary cleaning supplies can leave residue on the panels’ surface, which can decrease their efficiency, or even damage the electronics or corrode the framing.
Professionals will also be aware of the mineral content of your local water. "In Arizona, our water is very hard," says Windsor with Window Genie of the East Valley. “The EPA recommends avoiding drinking water with mineral counts of over 500; we’ve seen mineral counts up to 1,500 in our area.” Hard water that has not been properly filtered can leave water spots and stains on your solar panels, cleaning away the dirt, but leaving behind a mineral residue that reduces the intake of the sun’s rays over time and decreases your energy absorption.
Depending on the mineral content in the area, companies will use different processes to prep the water to properly clean your panels. In Arizona, Windsor with Window Genie of the East Valley uses an onsite water de-ionizer that brings the mineral count of the water down to below 9 parts per million, making the water spot-free. "If you don’t use the right type of water and allow hard water stains to build up, you can permanently damage your solar panels," says Windsor with Window Genie of the East Valley.