The Future of Solar Panel Cleaning Looks Bright for Window Cleaning Professionals
For those in the window cleaning industry, growing your business to support solar panel cleaning may prove to be a natural extension, but also a lucrative choice given the market size. The solar energy industry as a whole is growing. While California has traditionally dominated the U.S. solar market, other markets continue expanding rapidly. States like Texas, Florida, and New York all saw major growth in 2022 with accelerated growth projected through 2023 and beyond.
In terms of solar panel cleaning specifically, in 2021 the global Solar Panel Cleaning Market size was worth 559.9 million and it is expected to grow to USD 1,236.4 billion by 2030.
With this demonstration of growth, expanding a current window cleaning business to include solar panel cleaning can make financial sense, but it’s important to first consider the potential benefits and challenges involved.
Benefits to Consider
If you have existing window cleaning customers, you may already have a qualified base to which you can market your new service. Not only do your current customer relationships give you a leg up, but given that solar panels require periodic cleaning to maintain their efficiency, you can gain repeatable, predictable business from these clients.
Adding solar panel cleaning services also diversifies your business and reduces dependency solely on your window cleaning service.
In general, solar panel cleaning services can often command higher rates compared to traditional window cleaning, potentially leading to increased profit margins. The cost of solar panel cleaning services varies based on several factors, including location, the size of the job, the frequency of service, and the specific needs of the customer. Ultimately, the pricing of services will depend on your business strategy (whether it is an add-on service, part of a package deal, etc.), the local demand, and the competitive landscape in your area.
Potential Challenges to Solar Panel Cleaning Expansion
Education on solar panels and maintenance is necessary for both you and the potential client. You may need to invest in marketing and education efforts to inform your existing and potential customers about your new service. For instance, educating them on why they need to clean solar panels and the impact of dirty solar panels on energy output. The Solar Energy Power Association notes that dirty solar panels can lose 20% of their energy output and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory puts that figure even higher at 25%.
While solar panels are generally robust, they can be damaged if not cleaned properly, so you’ll need proper training. Cleaning them requires specialized knowledge and techniques to avoid damage that can occur if you:
- Use abrasive cleaning materials or harsh chemicals that can scratch the surface and harm the panel’s anti-reflective coating, reducing the panels’ efficiency and potentially causing long-term damage.
- Use a high-pressure water jet which can damage the glass and seals, leading to moisture leaking in.
- Use hard water with high mineral content that once it dries on the glass can impact the panels’ performance.
- Apply excessive pressure or perform aggressive scrubbing which can lead to microcracks in the glass. Applying pressure on the frame or junction box while cleaning can also lead to damage or misalignment.
- Clean the panel in extremely hot conditions which can cause the cleaning solution to dry quickly, leaving streaks or residues; or clean in freezing temperatures which can lead to the cleaning solution/water freezing on the surface.
- Fail to take proper safety precautions which can lead to accidents that may result in physical damage to the panels and/or to yourself.
You may also need to invest in specific solar panel cleaning equipment if you do not already have it, such as deionized pure water systems, long-handled window cleaning brushes, and telescopic poles. The correct equipment is essential not only to protect the solar panel investment and achieve the best possible results but also to ensure the safety of those cleaning the panels. Working at heights to clean solar panels can be riskier than ground-level window cleaning.
Lastly, expanding your services to include solar panel cleaning may require adjustments to your insurance coverage to account for the increased risks associated with the new service.
Investing in Solar Panel Cleaning Equipment
The best possible scenario, if you’re considering service expansion, is that you currently have pure water window cleaning tools. If you do not, or need to invest in additional pure water cleaning accessories, there are a variety of solar panel cleaning tools that make the task at hand simpler, faster and safer.
Pure Water Cleaning System
Solar panel manufacturers recommend the use of distilled or deionized water to clean solar panels to avoid damage to the modules and the effectiveness of the system. Regular tap water contains minerals like calcium and magnesium, which can build up on the panel when the water evaporates, leading to mineral deposits that reduce the panel’s efficiency over time. Some contaminants in tap water can also potentially lead to corrosion or degradation of the frame or other components of solar panels.
Using deionized water (pure water) created by water purification technology minimizes these risks by striping the water of impurities and minerals, preventing deposits from forming. Pure water also has a higher capacity to dissolve and carry away dirt and grime, which can improve the efficiency of the cleaning process. It allows for more effective removal of contaminants without the need for harsh cleaning chemicals.
It’s important to note that using a pure water cleaning system is only one part of a comprehensive maintenance plan that includes regular cleaning and inspection of the panels to keep them performing optimally.
Whether solar modules are installed flat, angled, on the ground, or high on roofs, often
times solar panel installations have hard-to-access points, making it complicated to perform regular cleaning. The use of telescopic poles allows the cleaning of windows, glass surfaces and solar panels up to 30 feet high. With an ergonomic grip and lightweight design, extension poles, when combined with a variety of cleaning attachments, allow you to keep your feet firmly planted on the ground and minimize the fall risks associated with ladders and lifts.
Solar Panel Cleaning Brush
To avoid any potential damage to the panels, it’s essential to use a solar panel cleaning brush specifically designed for this task. While it may appear similar to regular window cleaning brushes, a solar panel cleaning brush has unique features and characteristics. These brushes typically have soft, non-abrasive bristles designed to avoid scratching the glass surface and damaging the coating.
When attached to an extendable waterfed pole, you can carry out cleaning at greater heights. With a waterfed pole system, pure water is pumped up the pole allowing you to loosen dirt and debris with the brush and then rinse it away in one easy step. As with any window cleaning brush, it’s important to do your due diligence in proper care and maintenance, making sure it’s clear of loose dirt prior to cleaning to avoid potential surface damage.
Taking the Next Steps
Expanding a window cleaning business to include solar panel cleaning can be a viable business opportunity once you’ve performed a market assessment, evaluated the competition, and considered your ability to meet the technical and safety requirements of this service. If done right, investing in solar panel cleaning can lead to business growth and increased profitability.
Want to Learn More about Cleaning Solar Panels and the Best Equipment for the Job?
You can find us at BOOTH #3250 and attend the following educational sessions on solar panel cleaning: