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Solar panels are a big commitment, and getting the most modern panels installed is a costly investment. According to Householdquotes.co.uk, the simplest home setups still cost around £1,500.
Before you take the plunge, you need to know all about installing and running solar panels for your domestic electricity. Most importantly, you need to know where you may encounter extra costs along the way.
Solar panel maintenance cost is a topic anyone thinking about panels must get to grips with. We’ve assembled this simple guide to make it quick and easy for you to do just that. Read on, and you’ll learn everything from general solar panel maintenance to what you might expect to pay a professional to handle it for you.
The Case for Solar Panels
There are two main arguments for using solar panels for your domestic electricity. The first is the environmental benefit of relying on a greener source of energy. In a time when climate change is a major concern, that’s compelling enough.
However, many people are convinced by the long-term financial potential of solar panels. Over time, the argument goes, solar panels can start making you money, through special government-backed schemes. Such schemes pay out money for any excess electricity you put into the grid.
Until March 2019, it was the Feed-In Tariff (FIT) scheme that paid out to owners contributing to the grid. That scheme has now been replaced by the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG).
All panel providers with over 150,00 customers will have to offer an SEG tariff from January 2020. If you want to find out more about how viable an investment solar panels could be, check out this guide from Which?.
Solar Panel Cleaning and Maintenance
Installation costs and possible payback schemes are important. Maintenance costs also play a big part in determining if you should look to panels for your power.
Fortunately, there isn’t a lot of ongoing maintenance involved with having domestic solar panels. The majority of systems work well with regular cleaning and basic checks once or twice per year.
Regular cleaning is vital since clean solar panels operate closer to their maximum output. Keeping your panels at their max output is the best thing you can do to ensure their cost-efficiency. Even so, there are a handful of issues to be on the lookout for when it comes to basic maintenance checks – below, we consider the most common problems solar panel owners come across.
Most Common Maintenance Issues
The inverter is the element of a solar panel system most likely to develop a problem. That’s according to research by Which? when they surveyed close to 2,00 solar panel owners.
The inverter converts direct current (DC) generated from the solar panels into alternating current (AC), which is the form of electricity that can be fed into the commercial grid.
The same survey revealed when issues with solar panel inverters most often occur. Problems often arise between 3.5 to 5 years after a panel’s installation. Other than the inverter, most issues don’t directly relate to the panel system itself.
A common issue involves birds or other animals nesting on (or around) solar panels. If this occurs, the presence of a nest could affect the cables connected to your panels. Birds or other animals may damage or disconnect these cables, causing your system to develop faults or even stop working.
How Much Can You Handle Yourself?
Many of the maintenance issues related to solar panels are simple and easy to spot. As such, you can carry out most of the required checks yourself. Assuming each panel is accessible, it’s easy to look out for any animal activity. In the course of cleaning the panel itself, you can also remove any nesting materials.
For more technical issues, you’re better served trusting a professional. What you need to ask yourself is how likely you are to recognise a developing problem with something like a solar panel inverter. If the answer is “not very likely”, you’ll want to get a pro to keep a check on your solar panel system.
Solar Panel Maintenance Costs – What to Expect
Most solar panel providers attach long warranties to their products. Solar panels are reliable and durable enough that the warranties can extend to 25 years or more. Under those warranties, you’ll be able to get any issues with your panels fixed for free.
Not many providers include ongoing cleaning or maintenance as part of their offering. To keep your panels working efficiently, you’ll want to think about investing in such a service.
The cheapest annual solar panel cleaning and maintenance services cost only around £200, though this depends on your exact setup and where you live.
It’s also worth noting that some window cleaners offer solar panel cleaning as an added extra, typically costing somewhere between £25 and £50 a time.
There isn’t a lot of ongoing maintenance required once you’ve installed solar panels. Basic checks once or twice a year will generally keep your system running smoothly.
Now you know what to expect in terms of solar panel maintenance costs, you’re ready to find a professional to provide the service you need. And in the meantime, please feel free to leave us a comment if you have any other solar panel questions, or share this article on social media.