Contributor: Andy Robinson, Co-Owner, Blue Diamond Window Cleaning and Pressure Washing, Menifee, CA / Published Decemeber 2013
Editor’s Note: This is a new entry in the revision of the 2002 Power Washer’s Guidebook.
Although states in the southern or southwestern parts of the country will provide more opportunities than northern-tier states, there are solar panels everywhere. Maine, Washington State, and even North Dakota offer opportunities for contractors.
Inspect the panels for cracks in the glass, exposed wires, or anything that may look out of the ordinary. If the panels look good, and it is a first-time cleaning, soap the panels up with a strip washer (on a long extension pole). Rinse with de-ionized water-fed pole. (Use a Tucker pole or something comparable.)
If the panels have been cleaned within three to six months, skip the application of soap and simply rinse with de-ionized water.
A de-ionized, water-fed pole is the optimal choice most of the time.
Solar panels become hot. One has to be extremely careful not to crack solar panels by washing them when they are too hot. A basic temperature gun is good for checking surface temperature before cleaning. Once the panels reach 140–150 F, the risk of cracking is much greater.
The following equipment is required: safety harness for roof work, extension pole (15-ft to 20-ft length), wand applicator (18-in. to 30-in. size), bucket, solar panel cleaning solution, de-ionized water tank or tanks, and water-fed pole.
We simply charge three to five dollars per panel, which begins with three dollars (for commercial, schools, government, etc.) when panels are at ground level. We charge four dollars per panel for panels at single story height and five dollars per panel for panels at two-story height.
Window cleaning, screen repair and replacement, and pressure washing building exteriors and surrounding paved areas are absolutely good possibilities for tie-ins with cleaning solar panels.
Cracked panels and structurally faulty roofs must be identified before any work begins. Talk with the client to develop a workable plan, such as cleaning after repairs are made or cleaning only panels that are intact.
Cracked roof tiles present a major problem in California. Most people are wary about letting a contractor or cleaning professional on their roofs. We assure the customer that we know how to walk on tile roofs without breaking tiles. And if we do find broken tiles, we can repair them. Tiles cost about three dollars each at the local roofing supply yard. The roof repair can actually be a profitable add-on service for the contractor that is interested.
Family-owned and operated Blue Diamond Window Cleaning and Pressure Washing was started as a window-cleaning venture in 1995, shortly after Andy Robinson was discharged from the Army. Blue Diamond, which operates primarily in Riverside and San Diego counties, has cleaned windows in every type of home imaginable, adding services across the years to accommodate its customers’ needs.