Solar Power System Troubleshooting and Solar Repair Guide
Home solar systems are unique, and so are the difficulties that come with owning them. Remember that solar systems are relatively maintenance-free and much of the problem could be prevented if you hire a CEC accredited installer. However, it is always recommended to familiarise yourself with some of the most common solar panel problems for your confidence and peace of mind.
Read on to know some of the most common problems faced by solar panel owners, as well as step-by-step instructions on how to solve them. You may also want to check out our Top 5 Reasons to Install a Solar System Now.
Help! My solar system has unexpectedly started to provide no power output.
Did you know? Almost 50 % of major solar system failures are compensated for by inverter failures. Usually, the whole system shuts down when an inverter fails and produces zero energy. A quick health check is to look at the inverter and analyse the colour of the lights that shine on the box during daytime hours while the device is supposed to operate.
Key Point: “A green light on your inverter means your system is working properly. A red or orange light during daylight hours indicates there’s a system event or fault.”
Look for an error code on the display in case of a red or orange flashing light. Alternatively, for an indication of the cause, you might consider going to the inverter user interface through a web portal. If you get an error message, call your installer.
Inverters can shut down due to a grid fault where the voltage is too high or too low, or there could be a problem with the earthing of the system. Another reason may be that the circuit breaker for the inverter has tripped.
My solar power system has failed and is not working properly – what am I supposed to do?
We recommend you take the following steps if your system is not working:
- Check the system output on the inverter for at least one or two days to see if solar generation is certainly not available.
- See if the breaker of the solar circuit has tripped. Ensure to turn it back on at night. If it has tripped again the next day, it could become a serious fault.
- Contact your original solar system installer and ask to inspect the system (keep in mind that if the fault is not based on a warranty claim, there might be a call-out fee).
- Prepare your original paperwork if you want to make a warranty claim.
- In the event your original system installer becomes unavailable, then contact a local solar company. Most cheap inverters or panels cannot easily be repaired if they malfunction and would need full replacement.
How do I know if my solar is producing as much energy as it should?
Keep in mind that your system will never run at 100% efficiency.
Finn Peacock from SolarQuotes points out “most solar systems in Australian conditions will peak at 80% of their specified peak power – but that’s at midday in summer.”
If you have 5kW of panels, the maximum performance they can produce is 5kW over one hour. However, they’ll never be 100% efficient.
With the inverter and the cabling, losses can occur, and panel performance is affected by climate conditions, season, and the angle and direction of the panels. These losses are minimised by a well-designed and installed system.
I badly need to replace one or more panels on an existing solar system. However, the exact panel model is no longer available.
You are lucky if your original installer/solar company is still around. Just let them find and install suitable replacement panels for you. Most popular solar brands normally have a stock of spares, just call and ask for their advice.
However, get ready to do some legwork particularly if you use an obscure brand without an Australian office. Alternatively, a solar system that is more than 2 years old from an unfamiliar brand will no longer offer the same panel model used. Fret not though! You can use a different model and manufacturer of panel as a replacement.
Important: You need to engage a Clean Energy Council approved designer to look at the current system design, including:
- how the panels are wired
- the existing panel specifications
- the inverter(s) used
Only then can they figure out an acceptable replacement panel that will work well with what you already have. Furthermore, do not let your insurance provider determine what panels to use – they are not eligible!
Having an issue with your solar power system that you don’t understand? Relax! We are happy to help. For more tips, read the answers to some commonly asked solar questions by our clients.