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Solar panel maintenance guide: How to clean and repair solar panels

Your solar panels will need occasional maintenance after they're installed.

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Learn how to take care of your solar panels after the installation.
James Martin/CNET

Installing solar panels on your home can be an excellent way to save money on your energy bill and reduce your home's carbon footprint by switching to renewable energy. And the good news is that while solar panels aren't cheap, they can last you around 25-30 years, meaning they have plenty of time to get a return on your investment.

But to get the most value out of your solar panels and ensure they last as long as they can, it's important that you properly maintain them. In this guide, you'll learn everything you need to know about solar panel maintenance, including how often your solar panels need maintenance, the cost of maintaining your solar panels, how to maintain your solar panels and more.

Related: Solar panel buying guide

How to maintain your solar panels

Luckily, solar panels require minimal maintenance to ensure they keep working properly and producing solar energy for your home. The most common type of maintenance required for your panels is cleaning. Dirt and debris can collect on your panels, especially during storms or extended periods without rainfall. Occasional cleaning can remove this debris and ensure that your solar panels get the optimal amount of sunlight.

The other type of maintenance you may wish to do for your solar panels is an annual inspection. During a solar panel inspection, a professional -- often someone from your solar panel installer -- will come to your home and take a look at your panels, just to make sure everything is working as it should.

Any other maintenance appointments can simply be scheduled as needed if and when you notice a problem with your solar panels or that they aren't producing energy as they should.

How often do solar panels need maintenance?

As we mentioned, solar panel maintenance is fairly minimal. There are generally three different schedules to keep in mind:

  • Annual inspection: Once per year, hire a professional to inspect your solar panels and ensure they're working properly.
  • Cleaning: In general, plan to have your solar panels cleaned about twice per year. You may only need one cleaning per year if you live in an area with lots of rain and where your solar panels don't collect much dirt or debris. But if you live in an area where your solar panels don't get much rain or collect lots of dirt or debris, plan for more cleanings.
  • Additional maintenance: If you notice a problem with your solar panels outside of your annual inspection, you can schedule a maintenance appointment as needed.

How to tell when my solar panels need maintenance

In most cases, your solar panel system won't need much maintenance outside of your regular inspections and cleaning. But there are some red flags to look out for that may indicate your panels require maintenance sooner than scheduled.

The best indicator that your solar panels need maintenance is a reduction in your energy output. If you suddenly notice that your solar panels aren't producing as much energy as they normally do and that your electricity bill has gone up, it's a good sign that you should schedule a service appointment.

The cost of maintaining solar panels

Most homeowners hire a professional to clean and inspect their solar panels each year. Given that many solar panels are located on the roof, hiring an experienced professional is simply safer. The good news is that even with hiring a professional, your maintenance costs will be minimal.

According to Home Advisor, the average annual maintenance costs of a solar panel system are about $450 per year: $150 for an annual inspection and $150 each for two cleanings (for a total of $300). Your maintenance costs may be slightly higher if there's damage to your solar panel system or if you clean your panels more often due to dirt or debris collecting more quickly.

Depending on your solar panel installer, you may pay even less for maintenance. Some providers include a certain number of maintenance visits in your solar panel purchase. Others may offer service plans that cover regular maintenance and cleaning.


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What to know about solar panel warranties

Solar panels come with warranties in which the manufacturer guarantees that your panels will last for a certain number of years. Warranties often last between 10 and 20 years, but some are as long as 25 years. First, these warranties guarantee that your solar panels won't fall below a certain performance level. They also cover unexpected damage to your solar panels from storms and other causes outside of your control.

It's important to note, however, that your solar panel warranty may stipulate that your panels are only covered if they are properly maintained. For example, if you don't clean your solar panels regularly and built-up debris cuts their useful life short, then your warranty may not cover it.

The bottom line

Solar panels come with a larger price tag than many of your household appliances. But the good news is they also require less maintenance and have significantly longer lifespans. The only regular maintenance needed for your solar panels is cleaning and an annual inspection. Otherwise, as long as your panels are working properly, they won't need additional maintenance throughout the year.

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