Is residential solar cleaning snake oil?

Hi everyone, and thanks in advance for the help here.

Two questions:

  1. Is solar cleaning a snake oil business? and follow up question:
  2. Can i have a clear conscience selling that service to friends and other homeowners?

Reason I ask is I actually started the business. I live in San Diego and got my first job from a friend that I go to church with. He lives in a very expensive area, and has 120 panels. He is old, but historically had cleaned them himself and told me that he has seen 25% energy increase in past times.

I cleaned them with my new xero pure wfp, and i really put my back into it. They really look great.

When I was done I told him I was very interested to see the difference in efficiency.

The next day, to my unfortunate surprise, he showed me a graph that indicated he had a 0.7% efficiency increase.

After not cleaning them for a year, he gained less than 1% energy increase.

How is this possible given he has boasted about 25% increase in the past, and should I go on charging others for this service now that it seems it may not be something I would even stand behind.


Yeah, I haven’t seen any actual benefit to the service but there’s no actual benefit for window cleaning either.

However, I do believe that manufacturers recommend regular cleaning even though there might not be any real power benefit.

I did a large bank of panels for a local power co-op. They were filthy. I just used GG solar panel solution and mopped them, followed up with a rinse. They looked amazing afterwards. I too inquired to see if there was more output afterwards and it wasn’t much of a improvement.

At the end of the day its maintenance that needs to be done so I see no problem in offering the service.

Yeah, makes sense that they should be cleaned for warranty purposes and stuff.

I’m just mostly confused about why he allegedly got such a higher increase than what I was able to give him. I gave him a deal at $5.00 per panel, which was $600 bucks just to find out he gained less than 1%.

I was really excited about getting going with the business, that information just sort of felt like a punch to the gut.

Unless his panels were completely caked with mud, I’m not sure how he could see that increase.

There was a trade article a long time ago that talked about a 10-20% increase but it was one article and the real world experience seems to contradict that.

10-20% is what I keep seeing on the internet and in videos but I’d like to see that with my own eyes.

Without holding onto a specific claimed number, which will likely be completely different from one region and latitude to the next, what I’d like to know is what is the threshold price to benefit ratio that is going to convince a homeowner that it is worth the cost? How much increase in efficiency will it take to convince them to buy your services? What’s the baseline potential ROI for them?

Can you provide an example?

Solar panels are a scam anyway. I have a customer that just installed some on her garage, and I asked if she’ll see any net positive gain. In a nutshell she admitted the $30k for panels and associated equipment would not be recovered fully through the lifespan of the system, but she’s doing it solely to “do my part for the planet”. She hasn’t even bought a battery yet, so energy made is just for daytime use.

You know, I wasn’t too happy forking over $40k to my parents last year for solar panels but its the fam lol.

Are solar panels a scam? I guess it depends. We have 2 EVs and probably getting a 3rd one soon. Our electrician friend was able to install a car charger for us so we didn’t have to go to tesla direct and spend a few grand on them installing it. On my tesla phone app it says I’ve saved about $400 on gas this year. In the summer time our electric bill would be about $800 now it was $50. The bigger scam was when the solar panels didn’t work for a period of time for us. We had about a month where the panels didn’t work at all and we had to contact them to fix it. There’s some tax benefits to it and if you build an excess of energy you can sell some to the government for a profit $. Lots of benefits to them but only if you take advantage of it.

Is solar panel cleaning snail oil? Yeah, sure, you can argue most services are. Will people pay for it? Yup.

Thanks everyone. I think the best path forward is to stick with it, shift marketing from “you could get XX% more energy” to “you should clean these because they look nicer when theyre clean and you should take care of your things, and you probably will have an energy increase of some amount”.

Dont want to be a scammer, but they should be cleaned at least periodically, and most people dont want to get on their roof. oh and they will pay me to do that for them.

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It’s not scamming anyone if they want them cleaned. End of story.

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Continuing the discussion from Is residential solar cleaning snake oil?:

On mainland, where the energy companies are a middleman to your solar energy production cost/use, it may not be as benificial. But here in Hawaii, everyone is off grid on solar panels and water catchment. Also in this tropical environment (and with an ever active volcano nearby) i have cleaned panels more than 75% caked with moss, cinder mud, and volcanic ash, drastically improving the efficiency of their solar system. I use a mix of wfp and non scratch scrubbing by hand. I have read and heard NEVER pressure wash solar panels, as that could easily crack and damage the cells. Anyway, theres my take. Its more valuable/effective depending on where you live or work.