Now that you have your own solar system you will have to learn how to maintain it. Learn here everything you need to know about solar maintenance.
Common Solar System Problems
Solar panels are a great investment that help produce clean energy while reducing your monthly energy bills. That being said, they are an investment that, just like any other electronic device, is vulnerable to the possibility that something can go wrong. In the chance that your solar system does not seem to be working properly, you will want to be aware of some common solar system problems.
One common problem that can prevent your panels from functioning correctly is defective wiring. Due to solar panels being such a sophisticated system, it would be less than ideal to try to fix the issue yourself. Instead, reach out to your solar provider or an electrician to come and look at the issue. Electrical issues can also be a direct result of loose connections, corrosion, or oxidation. Solar panel systems have complex wiring systems, so there are various places where connections might fail.
Birds & Animals
Birds and animals can wreak havoc on solar systems. They tend to nest and live beneath the panels which prevents the solar system from doing its job properly. Because these animals live under solar panels, the risk of the panels getting scratched or the wires being damaged increases significantly.
The name comes from the brown lines that show up on your panels, giving the appearance that snails have traversed the surface. These “snail trails” usually only manifest after a few years and are caused by several factors, including defective silver paste. The silver paste is used during the manufacture of the panels. This results in high levels of moisture, causing oxidation between the encapsulation material and the silver paste. This can lead to delamination and internal corrosion as moisture finds its way into the panel. “Snail trail” problems might even be a result of microscopic cracks in the PV system which will be discussed below.
Micro-cracks are another common issue with solar panels and can compromise the effectiveness of your system. These are tiny cracks on the panel and are hard to notice from just looking at the panels. These cracks are vulnerable to becoming larger with time as weather changes can cause cracks to grow in size, especially from wind and snow. The cracks mostly occur due to PV module production, thermal or seasonal conditions, or even careless handling during the shipping process.
Hot spots, spots on your PV solar system that are overheating, are among the most common issues with solar or PV systems. These hot spots occur when panels get too warm and overload. They are caused by several things, including extremely high temperatures and the build-up of dirt or debris on the panels.
PV solar systems are a fantastic way to produce more clean energy, but just like any other device, they are not foolproof. It is important to be conscious of the output of your system and know what to look for if your system appears to not function properly. Now that you are well versed in some common problems with solar systems, check out our next article on ways to fix these common problems.
Fixing Common Solar System Problems
Many problems can occur with solar systems, however, as a customer, there are ways to prevent these common problems. Below you will find some solutions to the common solar system problems.
If you experience electrical issues with your PV solar system, the best thing you can do is contact your provider or a licensed electrician to have everything checked properly. Installers with electrical experience have various protocols they use to determine where exactly the electrical issue is occurring. Most installers will also install monitoring for your entire PV system. Monitoring allows installers to see where the problem is occurring and which specific panels or part of the system are giving you trouble. This allows for a more seamless fix and less headache when trying to pinpoint where the problem is coming from. Our partners like IGS provide an app that allows for service checks to occur so you are aware of any problems that arise in your solar system.
Birds & Animals
One solution to prevent birds from nesting beneath your panels is to implement bird roofing solutions like spikes and mesh wire. You could also try placing plastic strips between the panels to stop animals and birds from squeezing between the gaps. If you are thinking about investing in a PV solar system, you can look into purchasing roof-integrated panels to troubleshoot the issue of birds and animals damaging your system.
To fix snail tracks and the discoloration of your PV solar system, reach out to your provider or technician and see what options they offer in terms of replacements and warranties. Snail tracks are a problem that emphasizes the importance of hiring a trustworthy installer to handle the shipping and installation with the utmost care.
Micro-cracks typically happen during manufacturing, transportation, installation, or post-installation from causes like the weather. One preventative measure you can take to decrease the risk of micro-cracks to your system is to select a manufacturer and installer that knows what they are doing and aren’t careless throughout the installation process. When researching which supplier to go with, check out reviews and warranties that will give you the confidence that your system is being handled by a trustworthy provider.
To avoid issues like hot spots and overheating, you can choose certain panel manufacturers that are known for performing better in elevated heat than others. In terms of the accumulation of dirt and debris on panels, make sure you clean your system when necessary.
There are various causes and reasons as to why problems can occur within your solar system. Solving these issues can be easily fixed as long as you have some common knowledge about the problems. Keeping track of your system’s performance is an easy, effective troubleshooting solution. Another easy way to stay ahead of any problems that could occur is to stay up to date with customer checks through your solar provider. If you have any more questions or need help, reach out to us!
Signs Your Solar System Is Not Working
To save money on your energy bills and, more importantly, to produce clean energy, you will want to make sure that your PV solar system is working correctly. How do you know if your system is working? Keep reading to learn about four clear signs that indicate your solar panels are not working optimally.
1. Dirty Panels
One easy way to visibly see why your panels might not be performing optimally is to look for any debris that might be blocking sunlight from reaching your panels. Even though your solar panels do not need cleaning very often, it does not hurt to check on them once in a while and get rid of bird droppings, leaves, dust/dirt, or other debris that might be interfering with the amount of sunlight absorbed by the panels.
2. Visible Shading
Another way to see why your panels might not be working is to look for any shading created by overgrown trees or other objects. New branches or overgrowth can occur over time and might interfere with your system’s overall solar energy production. You should be aware of what is surrounding your panels so you can troubleshoot these issues quickly.
The inverter could be off or have a red light during the day; this could be another sign of why your solar system isn’t working. The inverter typically has a green light indicating that it is running properly. The best way to go about fixing this problem is to look at the manual for your solar PV system or call your installer to take a look.
4. How is your energy production?
A higher energy bill is another sign that your system could not be working. It is crucial to keep an eye on your energy bills to make sure that your solar system is producing the correct amount of energy while simultaneously lowering your energy bill. It is also important to compare your energy bill with the estimate you received from your installer. Even if your monthly bill isn’t increasing, it should be close to your estimate. If not, it is safe to assume that something might be wrong with your system.
The most efficient way to stay on top of signs that might indicate that your solar system isn’t working is to use solar monitoring! Monitoring your system’s performance, including its energy production, will help you uncover problems with the system.
Cleaning Solar Panels - What to Know?
Ready to finally clean your solar panels? Perhaps your solar panels are looking a little dusty or there are an absurd amount of bird droppings? Or maybe it is spring cleaning time! Here is what you should know when it is time to give your panels a little scrub.
Do you need to clean? Depends on what you own.
First off, solar panels are self-cleaning! Generally, the rain should be enough to clean off any dirt that has accumulated on any of your Photo Voltaic (PV) panels. In most cases, cleaning your panels is not worth the hassle and danger. Regardless, over time you may find that a buildup of dust and particulates may occur. Here are some general guidelines for cleaning depending on what system you own.
Flat PV Panels
Google performed a case study in Mountain View, California showing that cleaned flat panels could produce up to 36% more energy compared to those that have not been cleaned. In this case, if you live in an area with a lot of pollution and particulates, it is a good idea to clean your panels when they become noticeably dirty.
Tilted PV Panels
The same Google case study found that clean tilted panels did not produce a significant increase in the amount of energy created compared to those that had not been cleaned. The rain is sufficient cleaning for these types of panels. Thus, in the case that you live in a dry climate without much rain, you should consider cleaning.
Evacuated Tube Solar Collector
If you own this solar water heater, this system should be service cleaned. Do not attempt to clean it yourself! By attempting to clean this system yourself, you are tampering with pressure gauges and very hot water. It is best to leave this to trained professionals. If you have any questions regarding what type of panels you have, feel free to contact us, or a professional, before you start cleaning your solar panels.
It is important to keep safety a priority when cleaning. Please shut down your system before attempting to clean it. Clean in the morning or evening to avoid times when the solar panels can get very hot. Pick a day that is cooler in temperature, or overcast. If you feel uncomfortable climbing onto the roof, you may also seek professional cleaners.
When it snows, many people wonder if it is necessary to clean the snow off their photovoltaic panels. However, it is not necessary. The glass panels are designed to be non-sticky, so most snow should slide off. Additionally, during heavy snowstorms, production will be low—it is part of the design of the solar panel system. So, there is no need to take any risks on a heavy snow day.
Everything You Need to Know About Solar Warranties
One of the more complicated parts of going solar is the warranties for your panels. Generally, the industry standard is that warranties last 25 years. However, there is more than one type of solar warranty. Understanding the different types of solar warranties — and what they mean — will help you get a better grasp of how your solar investment is protected. There are two types of warranties: performance warranties and equipment warranties.
Performance warranties focus on how much energy your system produces over the course of its lifetime. The amount of energy that panels produce decreases very slowly over time. Having a performance warranty ensures that this decrease occurs at an acceptable and standard rate.
Linear vs Step Warranties
Within the realm of performance warranties, there are two different kinds. Linear warranties cover a consistent, slight decrease in productivity of your solar panels each year. Step warranties cover performance at a flat rate and then decrease coverage at specific points during the lifetime of your solar system.
Equipment warranties, also known as workmanship warranties, account for any physical defects that your panels might have due to issues that occurred during manufacturing.
Why is My Warranty Important?
Having a solar panel warranty can be very effective in cases where one of your panels stops working. It is important to note that if one panel fails, the rest should continue to operate without any impairment. Occasionally, however, a failed panel will impact the productivity of other panels within your solar system. Having a warranty is crucial and will help cover the cost of swapping out the malfunctioning panel.
What if My Warranty Expires?
If your warranty expires, your panels will still work, don’t worry! In fact, according to a study conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, every 4 out of 5 solar panels end up working well past the end of their 25-year warranties. This, of course, depends on the initial quality of your panels. It is far more cost-effective to invest in high-quality panels instead of being footed with repair and replacement bills down the line.
Make sure you also obtain a copy of the panel manufacturer’s insurance policy. As we partner with manufacturing companies, we always review and understand the insurance policies in place which guarantee power production warranties.