Christian M. 8 min read

How to maintain your business’s solar panels

Not taking care of your solar panel systems can lead to unexpected costs due to reduced efficiency, unexpected breakdowns, non-compliance fines and, although rare, accidents. Yet every business has its own maintenance requirements, depending on the level of sophistication of its system and any agreements with installers or third-party service companies.

This article covers everything you need to know about maintaining a business’s solar PV system.

After all, solar panels are designed to require minimal effort once installed, and most problems can be averted with a bit of maintenance.


Why does maintenance matter?

Just like anything else in life, if you take care of it, you’ll be able to reap its rewards. Solar energy is no exception, and regular maintenance will:

Save Costs: Keep your ROI on track by ensuring the entire system remains as performant and efficient as possible.

Prolong Lifespan: Identifying critical issues early can extend the lifespan of all your components, sometimes even beyond their warranty period.

Ensure Compliance: Regular check-ups will ensure your system remains compliant and trouble-free.

Prevent Accidents: Solar systems are considered safe, but identifying rare issues like rusted mounts or frayed cables early can reduce any risk of accidents.

💡 Maintenance contracts for commercial solar panels generally include a more comprehensive service agreement than those for typical residential systems due to their larger size and technological complexity. This might not always be the case for small businesses, though.

What types of maintenance are there?

The maintenance of solar panels can be categorized into four principal tasks that may overlap:

TasksFrequencyRelative CostNotes
Monitoring24/7 to Monthly£Automated monitoring is on-going. Manual monitoring is periodic.
CleaningQuarterly to Yearly
££Frequency depends on site-specific conditions and maintainance contracts.
Inspection/Check-upYearly or more££Depends on the size and complexity of your system, and how proactive you want to be.
Repairs or replacementsAd-hoc£ - ££££Insurance and warranty claims can be managed in-house or outsourced.

The scope of each maintenance task will largely depend on the type and size of the business solar panel system. The following section provides more details regarding each:


The Enphase Solar PV System monitoring App
The Enphase Solar PV System monitoring App (Source: Enphase)

Live or regular monitoring of your system’s performance allows one to assess what is happening remotely. It enables you to detect malfunctions or if your maintenance (i.e. cleaning, checkups) schedule is lacking.

For example, a diminished power output from your panels during a dry summer might suggest they have rapidly accumulated dust, have been shaded by a rapidly growing branch, or may be overheating.

Or perhaps the panels are fine, but your inverter may be experiencing issues and struggling to invert all the current generated at maximum capacity. In any case, a thorough data analysis can give numerous insights to aid any inspections.

While large commercial solar systems may have 24/7 monitoring algorithms that can automatically flag any anomalies and produce regular automated reports for servicing companies, smaller installations will more likely rely on in-house monitoring, so some training is ideal

💡 Larger solar systems may also include visual monitoring such as CCTV cameras, groundkeeping and frequent inspections of the units. Custom-made business energy monitors may also be installed.

Routine Cleaning

Four-panel technicians are doing professional cleaning with specialised equipment.

This is the simplest yet most effective way of keeping your panels efficient. Over time, panels can accumulate dirt, dust, leaves, bird droppings, and other debris that block sunlight, reducing your panels’ performance.

How often cleaning is needed will ultimately depend on site-specific conditions, such as the tilt of your solar panels, the frequency and intensity of rainfall, proximity to particulate sources like quarries, farms or industrial complexes, and even sea breeze.

Most businesses will schedule this service based on the expert assessment as part of a separate maintenance contract with the installer or with a separate solar servicing company. Self-sufficient businesses that want to minimise costs and want to schedule themselves can look at our scheduling guide.

💡 Larger businesses with hundreds of commercial solar panels will find it more cost-effective to install automatic cleaning mechanisms alongside their panels (such as sprinklers or cleaning robots).


Inspections are vital for identifying issues that are not apparent from any data analysis or visually evident from the surface. Inspections can range in scope from a quick visual inspection to a thorough test of all the electrical systems using specialised equipment.

A detailed professional inspection may include:

  • Examining the panels for physical or environmental damage, such as cracks or yellowing.
  • Ensure the integrity of all mounting systems and the absence of vermin nests.
  • Examining cables for fraying or chewing and ensuring all connections are tight.
  • Proactively ensuring there are no overlying obstructions such as growing branches.
  • Performing electrical and thermal imaging tests on all components to ensure all components’ integrity, safety and performance (including PV solar batteries).
  • Warranty/claims management if there are any underperforming components.

Catching issues early, such as corrosion, water damage, or electrical anomalies, can prevent minor problems from becoming costly, large-scale failures requiring repair or replacement.

💡 The level of detail of the inspection may also vary with frequency. A quarterly in-house inspection may only include a visual check-up and data analysis, while a yearly inspection may include electrical tests and thermal imaging.

Repairs and Replacements

Even under best maintenance practices, some components may become damaged from accidental impacts, recurrent environmental exposure, or fail after reaching their expected life expectancy.

The latter is a certainty as the lifespan of batteries and inverters is shorter (10-15 years) than that of solar panels (25-30 years), so they will likely need replacement at least once. Jump to the budgeting section for details on how to prepare for this.

In any case, timely repairs or replacements are necessary upon system failure, so having an emergency response contact is also an essential part of maintenance. Usually, this is provided by your solar panel insurance company.

💡 Proactive maintenance and inspections can prevent a domino effect by identifying problems early. One malfunctioning component can affect the health of the entire system. Maintaining a thorough record of maintenance activities is crucial to satisfy warranty/insurance conditions. Learn how to keep a maintenance log here.

In-house maintenance for small businesses

This section discusses some fundamental maintenance tasks that non-specialists can perform in-house. While these are more relevant for small businesses without costly maintenance contracts, businesses of any size can save costs by proactively inspecting and servicing their system.

Here’s a summary table of in-house maintenance tasks:

DIY TasksFrequency
MonitoringOn-going; setting up automated alerts.
RinsingMonthly/Quarterly or when noticeably dirty
Maintainance LogUpon monitoring, rinsing or inspecting

💡 Make sure to de-energise your system when doing in-house maintenance to mitigate any electrical hazards, even if there is no direct contact with the system’s components. This information is for guidance only; please do your due diligence.

In-house monitoring

Ensure installers have configured all the necessary solar system monitoring hardware and software and verified their integrity.

This is your business’s virtual window into your system’s health, providing critical insights that transcend visual inspections.

Make sure to activate alerts for sudden generation, storage or power conversion efficiency declines. These notifications are essential for prompt issue detection and mitigation, helping maintain system performance and prolong lifespan.

Solar panel rinsing

Rinsing your panels with water using a hose from a safe position does not substitute professional cleaning. Still, it will undoubtedly decrease the frequency required for such services while maintaining your panels’ performance. Consider this is akin to simulating natural rainfall on the panels.

Periodically rinsing them (say, monthly to quarterly) should keep the panels essentially free of dust, pollen, debris and salt accumulations (if close to the sea). This task should be relatively swift if your business has a small array of rooftop panels that can be safely reached with a hose.

Avoid using a high-pressure hose or hot water that can damage the panels or any underlying components. Consider this rinsing akin to simulating natural rainfall on the panels designed to withstand this.

Avoid using greywater system discharge or other chemicals to adhere to environmental regulations. Also, ensure you perform this task from a stable, non-slip position.

Remember that professional solar panel cleaners are equipped with the necessary training to work at heights, manage electrical equipment safely, and utilise the appropriate tools to prevent any damage to the panels.

💡 When panels are not cleaned regularly, the persistent barrier of debris can lead to a significant drop in power output — in some cases, as much as 25% or more. Include a professional clean in your schedule to rid the panels of adhered substances like tree sap or bird droppings.

DIY Inspection

Besides monitoring and rinsing, a monthly/quarterly DIY visual inspection of your hardware will help you identify potential issues early on. Here are some key things to look for:

Solar Panels: Ensure vegetation isn’t growing over your panels and blocking their sunlight. Use binoculars from ground level to safely inspect your panels for cracks, breakages, yellowing or nesting animals (this can be a common problem for agrivolatic farms).

Mounts: Inspect your panel’s mounting system for loose bolts or rusting using binoculars. Panels are heavy, and any dislodgements can cause serious accidents. Check for exposed cables and anything unusual, and take as many photos as possible.

Inverter: Modern inverters typically feature indicator lights on the front panel that reflect the system’s status. Ensure these are flashing green; otherwise, something is not working appropriately. Check the cabling for any signs of fraying/chewing– rodents such as mice, rats and squirrels may gnaw on them. If you notice anything, DO NOT touch the cables and call your servicing company immediately.

Batteries: Similar to inverters, your batteries will have flashing lights on their panels indicating their status. Also, monitoring its performance over time will let you understand its state. Expect a gradual decline in battery capacity over time, but remember that the manufacturer warranty will cover you if this declines faster than its specs.

💡 Recall that your DIY inspection does not replace a professional check-up, which includes in-depth tests using specialised equipment and advice on any regulation changes. This is essential to ensure the system remains compliant.

Maintenance Log

Maintaining a detailed maintenance log is crucial in efficiently managing your solar PV system. It serves as a valuable record for tracking the system’s performance over time and provides essential documentation in case of warranty or insurance claims.

✅ Document things consistently, keeping date, time and a description. Attach any photographic evidence if possible.

✅ Attach performance metrics whenever you do maintenance to keep track. Compare it to the manufacturer’s performance warranty for a potential replacement.

✅ Consider having a digital backup or keeping the log digitally so you can easily share it with specialists.

💡 Pro Tip: Utilise maintenance log templates or dedicated maintenance management software to streamline the logging process and improve the organisation of records.


Suppose you notice any issues during your in-house maintenance routine (e.g. vermin invasions, inverter/batteries flashing red lights, chewed or dislodged cables, rusted mounts, branches dangling over your panels). In that case, it is best to call in the specialists to deal with the problem safely, correctly and within the coverage of your insurance policy.

Remember that your DIY routine already reduces the likelihood of nasty surprises and will let you spot any problems early. Ensure your staff understands what to look for so that you always have more eyes on the system.

Developing your maintenance schedule

Once your system is installed and you have talked to your installer or specialist about maintenance, it’s a good idea to have a schedule from the start.

Your schedule should combine your own in-house inspections and the professional services you will hire over the life of your solar panel system.

Sticking to your schedule is a perfect way of managing your system stress-free and will be invaluable when calculating your maintenance budget.

This table shows what your schedule may include:

On-going- Alert monitoringKeep performance alerts on your monitoring system ON.
Monthly/Quarterly- Panel rinsing
- Basic visual inspection
- Monitoring Report
An end-of-month monitoring report can help you identify any potential issues early.
Yearly/Biennially- Profesional cleaning
- Professional inspection
- Comprehensive review
Time to call the professionals to make sure everything is compliant.
Every decade- Proactive replacement of inverter/batteriesMany may chose to keep their equipment until advised otherwise.

When should a business do solar panel maintenance?

Most businesses consider their solar panel systems infrastructure investments and typically arrange maintenance contracts with installers or solar panel servicing companies.

This is particularly the case for medium to large solar panel installations, where these arrangements are cost-effective. Many large businesses will opt for Corporate Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) contracts, in which the PPA provider assumes responsibility for maintenance.

Considering site conditions, these companies can use their expertise to suggest the appropriate maintenance frequency for each system. The table below summarises each maintenance task, including its typical frequency.

TasksFrequencyRelative CostNotes
Monitoring24/7 to Monthly£Automated monitoring is on-going. Manual monitoring is periodic.
CleaningQuarterly to Yearly
££Frequency depends on site-specific conditions and maintainance contracts.
Inspection/Check-upYearly or more££Depends on the size and complexity of your system, and how proactive you want to be.
Repairs or replacementsAd-hoc£ - ££££Insurance and warranty claims can be managed in-house or outsourced.

Jump to this section for more details.

Small businesses without any maintenance agreements should look at our in-house maintenance section to keep on top of their system’s health with little effort. Note that most insurance policies will limit the scope of any DIY maintenance and require a certified company to look at the system.

See our section on scheduling to see how this can be structured.

Safety considerations for business solar panel maintenance

Solar panel servicing companies follow specific maintenance procedures due to many safety considerations, including working at heights, ensuring electrical safety, and using specialised tools.

The details are outside the scope of this article (which is for business owners!), but if you’re interested, we have a comprehensive list.

We do, however, have some general safety recommendations for anyone doing their maintenance routines:

✅ Avoid climbing ladders or accessing the roof without proper training. Perform visual inspections and panel rinsing from the ground or a secure vantage point.

✅ Refrain from touching live electrical components, including wires and connectors.

✅ Check the weather conditions before outdoor activities, as extreme weather may pose a hazard.

✅ Make sure the system is de-energised before doing any maintenance.

Budgeting for maintenance

Businesses with an existing maintenance agreement with their installer or a third-party servicing company typically have their maintenance costs included, especially if this is a comprehensive package encompassing insurance and warranty claims management.

However, many businesses may only have basic or one-time maintenance coverage; hence, it is crucial to budget for maintenance work.

Here are some cost-related considerations and estimates to help you budget effectively:

Investment in Quality Equipment and Installers

Although not a direct maintenance cost, investing in quality solar components from the outset can reduce long-term maintenance costs. Higher-quality equipment usually offers durability and may have more extended warranties.

Keep close attention to warranty details, and ensure you understand the difference between manufacturer and installer warranties: the former covers the components’ functionality, while the latter covers the workmanship.

The same applies to installers: pick a reputable installation company. Seek recommendations in your area and review the company’s ratings on Trustpilot.

💡Pro Tip: Learn about VAT on solar panels to budget your installation accurately.

Setting Aside a Maintenance Fund

Setting aside a specific maintenance fund right from the outset is prudent. This fund may be a percentage of the initial investment or calculated based on the expected maintenance requirements over the system’s lifespan.

As we’ve seen above the regular maintenance of a solar system will enable it to work efficiently for the long term and help your business avoid needing to purchase electricity from the grid via a business energy supplier.

See our detailed article on business solar panel costs for more information.

Routine Cleaning and Inspection Fund

Consider budgeting 2% – 3% of the total installation cost per year for routine cleaning and inspections as a starting point. For instance, if your installation costs were £30,000, you would allocate between £600 and £900 per year for these routine professional services.

They may seem substantial, but it is vital for ensuring your solar panel system’s long-term health and the business electricity prices your system will save you.

Component Replacement Fund

Despite having warranties for specific components, others may not be covered, or their warranty may expire.

Solar panels have a projected lifespan of nearly 25-30 years, but inverters and batteries often require replacement at least once, given that their warranties usually last around 10-15 years.

Allocating another 2% of the total installation cost per year for this may be wise. With a £30,000 installation cost, this equates to £600 per year, or £6,000 over ten years, which should suffice to acquire new batteries and an inverter (especially considering prices are likely to decrease).

Emergency Repair Fund

Unpredictable events such as extreme weather or vandalism can cause damage that insurance might not cover. An emergency repair fund can help manage these unexpected costs.

This allocation is arbitrary and largely depends on your enterprise’s risk appetite. Bear in mind that the return on investment (ROI) of solar panel systems may be lower than prior business electricity bills, and these savings could be potentially funnelled into an emergency fund.

💡 Performing in-house basic maintenance (visual inspections, panel cleaning, and essential monitoring) can reduce expenses by lessening dependence on third-party services, thus conserving your emergency or repair budget.


How often should you perform maintenance tasks?

Businesses often outsource their maintenance to third parties through their insurance policy or installation and maintenance agreement. Therefore, the frequency of maintenance will be recommended by professionals who can customise it to your specific system and on-site conditions.

Refer to this table, which summarises the typical frequencies for each professional maintenance task.

For smaller businesses managing maintenance independently, consult this table for DIY business solar maintenance.

Does your solar system need to be off for maintenance?

Professionals will switch off your solar panel system while performing maintenance tasks to prevent electrical hazards. This precaution is crucial as there may be exposed live wires or malfunctioning equipment during the process.

If you lack the necessary training and qualifications, please refrain from performing any physical maintenance or cleaning other than visual inspections and solar panel rinsing, and ensure these are conducted safely.

Does rain clean solar panels?

Yes, rainfall can naturally help clean solar panels to some extent by washing away loose dirt and debris. However, it is ineffective against more stubborn residues like tree sap, bird droppings, or other substances that can adhere to the panels.

This places the UK in a naturally advantageous position regarding solar panel maintenance. While it may not boast the solar resource levels of Southern Spain, the UK’s frequent rainfall can assist in keeping solar panels relatively clean without manual intervention.

What is the best time of day to clean solar panels?

Although a professional cleaning necessitates that the panels be switched off, the optimal time for such maintenance will ultimately depend on when the cleaning technicians are available.

However, suppose you are undertaking the task or simply rinsing the panels. In that case, it is advisable to do so when the panels produce minimal or no energy, such as early in the morning or evening.

An additional benefit of cleaning during these times is that the water will not evaporate as quickly, thereby reducing the likelihood of residue, such as salts or minerals found in tap water, being left behind (which is why using filtered water is preferable).

How does maintenance affect solar panel efficiency?

The efficiency of solar panels is crucial to their performance. Neglecting maintenance leads to the accumulation of layers of dust, debris, and other residues, such as bird droppings, on the panel’s surface.

These layers act as barriers between the sun’s rays and the photovoltaic cells inside the panels, preventing the panels from operating at full capacity.

Furthermore, in commercial settings, solar panels might be exposed to more particulates due to industrial activities, potentially exacerbating the issue.

This reduction in efficiency hinders daily operations that depend on solar energy and impacts the overall return on investment of the solar infrastructure.

How does maintenance affect solar panel lifetime?

Most solar panels are engineered to last approximately 25 to 30 years before their efficiency diminishes significantly. Still, this lifespan is contingent upon appropriate maintenance, often stipulated in the warranty.

Components such as inverters convert solar energy into usable electricity, and mounting structures are susceptible to wear and tear and require periodic inspections to preempt failures.

Proactively identifying issues, including corrosion, water ingress, or electrical irregularities, can avert minor concerns escalating into expensive, large-scale repairs.

What safety measures do solar panel experts take during maintenance?

The tasks involved during maintenance include working with high-voltage electrical equipment and often require being at height, both of which pose significant risks.

Here are some critical safety considerations:

Electrical Safety

Solar panels generate electricity, and the current they produce can be dangerous. It’s essential to observe the following precautions:

  • Power Down: Before conducting any maintenance, shut down the system to mitigate the risk of electric shock.
  • Wear Protective Gear: Technicians should wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), such as insulated gloves and protective eyewear.
  • Use Proper Tools: Ensure all tools are rated for electrical work and are in good condition.
  • Lockout/Tagout Procedures: Implement lockout/tagout practices to ensure the system is not inadvertently re-energised while maintenance is performed.
  • Qualified Personnel: Only qualified personnel with training in electrical systems should perform or supervise any work involving electrical components.

Fall Protection

Since solar panel maintenance often requires working on rooftops or elevated structures, fall protection is another critical aspect:

  • Risk Assessment: Before starting work, perform a risk assessment to identify potential hazards.
  • Training: Ensure that all individuals involved in maintenance work at height are trained in fall protection and understand how to use the equipment properly.
  • Use of PPE: Workers should be equipped with proper fall arrest systems, including harnesses, lanyards, and anchor points.
  • Regular Equipment Checks: Regularly inspect all fall protection equipment for signs of wear and tear or damage.
  • Clear Access Points: Ensure access points to the roof or structure are safe and secure. Ladders should be stable, and scaffolding must be correctly installed.
  • Guardrails and Safety Nets: Where possible, install guardrails or safety nets to add an extra layer of protection.

General Safety Measures

  • Emergency Plan: Have a clear emergency plan in place, which all personnel are familiar with, in case an accident occurs.
  • Weather Conditions: Monitor weather conditions and avoid maintenance activities during adverse weather, such as high winds, rain, or lightning.
  • Communication: Ensure there is a means of communication for personnel to stay in contact, especially in the case of an emergency.
  • First Aid Training: Maintenance staff should have basic first-aid training, and kits should be readily accessible.

Extended Reading

Here is a selection of our solar system blogs that may be of interest to you:

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