Solar panels beneath blue sky

So you took the solar leap and got panels installed, fantastic news right?

Not always! Sadly not everyone instantly reaps the rewards of renewable energy, as often there are teething problems with solar panels or maintenance issues that pop up later in your solar panels life. Suddenly you may find that your solar panels are malfunctioning, or not operating at their very best, or maybe even not working at all.

The solar situation

Solar has never been more affordable, and with electricity prices on the rise, one in five Australians now have a PV solar system installed. Yet despite their popularity, many households are still receiving high bills that force them to question whether or not solar is worth the investment.

According to Choice, 25% of people in Australia experience problems with their solar system post installation. Families that are new to owning solar often get a surprise when the amount on their utilities bill doesn’t immediately plunge. Often a lot of this can come down to miseducation about solar panels or even solar panels not operating at their peak due to a lack of remote control.

What the research shows

Most solar PV systems only experience minor issues and while solar PV is largely maintenance-free, a new study from Pecan Street recently featured on GreenTech Media has found that the majority of homeowners actually had no idea their panels weren’t working.

When it comes to solar, even minor issues can often impede power production for days, weeks or even longer. The study found that most homeowners weren’t aware the solar array was malfunctioning and in many cases, they were down or experiencing issues for weeks to months.

It’s a minor issue. But by not detecting it, it becomes an issue where you’re losing value on your solar panel even though it’s a $5 issue to fix.” - McCracken, CEO of Pecan Street. 

The main issue here is that for many people, the question of whether or not their solar panels are working is only answered when a monthly or even a quarterly bill. Many solar customers are completely in the dark until that figure comes in the mail! If it’s a high number, you’re left speculating whether you’re doing something wrong, your solar panels are broken or if you’ve made the wrong choice going renewable.

What might be wrong

If there is a fault with your solar panels, don’t be alarmed! Since there aren’t many parts that are necessary for a solar panel system to run, there aren’t many ways for a solar panel system to fail. And even these can be simple, cost- effective fixes.

Switchboard Trips

It seems obvious, but before you investigate other options, check that your solar panel hasn’t tripped at the switchboard.

Wiring

Faulty wiring can sometimes cause minor solar panel issues. While you shouldn’t go digging through wires unless you’re a qualified solar panel technician, you may be able to see if there are any improper, corroded or loose technicians. You can then inform the proper professional to tighten or remove or replace and damaged parts.

Yellow red and orange wiring

Batteries

Just like any battery, a solar battery terminal can burn out! Don’t stress if this happens to you – the metal parts in the terminal may just need to be replaced.

Heat Fade

It’s rare, but sometimes solar panels can overheat. You’ll know if the system is overheating by a poor performance when the temperature is high. If this is what’s a fault, you may need to get the wire connections replaced.

Water damage

It’s as rare as heat fade but it does happen! Isolators can be damaged by water if it manages to creep in, and have the potential to catch fire if the moisture becomes too great.

Abstract image of water moving through wiring

Solar Safety first

Ineffective and underperforming solar doesn’t just cost you money – it’s a potential safety risk. As of July 2015, earth fault alarms have become a compulsory addition to any new solar installation in Australia.

An earth fault can create an electrocution or fire risk, which is why audible or visual only alarms have inherent drawbacks when you are not home to hear or see the signals. Therefore an ideal earth fault alarm is one which can alert you and your solar system supplier, electrician, or installer via a push notification and email, triggering a definite maintenance action.

What you can do

Too many households simply get solar installed and then take no further action. While regular servicing and maintenance is important when it comes to your solar panels health (and making sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck!), data can be just as essential.

Phone on wooden table showing carbonTRACK app

The carbonTRACK solution

By showing you the data that matters most to you (when your solar panels are working, how much energy you’re using, when you’re using it etc), you can get easy peace of mind that your panels are working well, anytime, anywhere. Combine this with an ability to actual control your panels from afar, and you’ve got the perfect solution to getting a quicker ROI on your solar purchase.

This visibility will also be able to help highlight any potential solar panel generation issues. carbonTRACK can alert you and your solar system supplier, electrician, or installer via a push notification and email when something is wrong (such as an earth fault alarm situation!), so that you can update your system to be safe and sound.

  

Think your solar might not be working properly? You might need more than solar monitoring. Here’s where carbonTRACK comes in:

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