Cleaning solar panels – Is it worth the cost?

Cleaning solar panels – Is it worth the cost?

We are always being asked if it is worth cleaning Sunshine Coast solar panels and as it was too windy this weekend to go fishing I decided to break tradition and clean my solar panels to see how much difference it would actually make.

This image is my solar panels pre-cleaning and as you can see they are quite dirty.

Before I write any more I want to point out that I live in a single story home and can clean my panels without getting onto the roof. Climbing on roofs can be extremely dangerous and SunWorks Solar do not recommend you get on your roof to clean your solar panels. If you choose to do so it is entirely at your own risk.

My 5.17kW system was installed in 2012 and has 22 x 235watt REC solar panels and a 5kW inverter. The day before I cleaned the panels my system generated 25.44kWh and after cleaning that increased to 28.49kWh which is 3.05kWhs or 12% more. This is a reasonably large increase (although a long way from the 30% touted by solar panel cleaning companies) however a decent bit of rain would have cleaned them anyway.

So is it worth cleaning your panels?

The answer is yes if you can do it yourself without getting onto the roof but is it worth paying for them to be cleaned?

Some companies charge a minimum of $120 for 10 panels and then $10 per panel thereafter which for my system would have cost me $240. Assuming I export all this extra energy and receive a feed in tariff of 16.1cents (available from Energy Australia) my increased generation would have given me extra income of $0.49 on the first day but progressively less as the panels get dirtier again. This means that it would take at least 489 days to recoup the cost of cleaning which in reality means I would have never got back the cost.

So is it worth paying to have your panels cleaned?

The answer is no – the increased solar generation will never cover the cost of the cleaning.

I cleaned my solar panels with a soft bristle brush which I duct taped to the end of a extendable aluminum pool pole. I then tape a hose to the head of the broom and to the pole at regular intervals and with the tap running I give all my panels a gentle scrub. You do not need to use any detergents just plain old tap water at mains pressure – using a pressure cleaner can damage your solar panels.

For more information about solar power for your Sunshine Coast home or business contact us today.