September 19, 2023

5 Common Solar Panel Maintenance Issues

1. Installation Issues

Most solar panel installers are well-trained and dedicated to doing things right. But no matter how experienced they are, mistakes can happen. The most common are typically easy to fix: loose terminals, pinched wires, and leaky conduits. 

Pinched wires can happen when proper wire management is not utilized and wires are damaged during installation.

Similarly, conduits (the tube that encases wires between equipment) can leak. Whether due to a gap in a fitting or improper installation. A trained service technician will be able to locate the troubled portion and repair or replace it.

These installer-driven mistakes shouldn’t be your burden to bear. It’s best to leave them to the professionals, as it can further harm the system or, most importantly, yourself. 

2. Inverter Failures

You and your installer should select dependable equipment for your array. But even the highest-quality inverters and panels from the best brands can have issues. 

When it comes down to it, the component most likely to fail is also the hardest working: the inverter. Inverters run right alongside your panels, converting the DC electricity they produce into the AC electricity your devices use. 

Specific inverter issues will vary between manufacturers and product lines. But thankfully, most inverter manufacturers back their products up with at least a ten-year warranty. This will protect your investment from manufacturing-related faults. 

These sophisticated pieces of equipment may also need regular software and firmware updates. Occasionally, a manufacturer will release an update that fixes common issues remotely. In other cases, you may have to involve a solar professional to diagnose the issue.

3. Communication Issues

Most solar systems installed today and in recent years require a dependable internet connection. While the internet isn’t required to produce electricity from the sun, it is needed to monitor your system. 

Inverters are connected to the web to communicate how much electricity your system produces and to provide notifications when errors occur. If there are disruptions in this connection, you could be missing some issues. Likewise, an internet connection will be required for your inverter to receive automatic software updates.

In most cases, communication failure is caused by an unplugged wire, a new or faulty internet device (router), or a change to a new internet provider. If you’ve covered your bases by ensuring all wires are plugged in, restarted the internet devices, and confirmed new devices are set up and properly connected, it may be time to reach out to a solar maintenance team for troubleshooting.

4. Ground & Arc Faults

Damage from Arc FaultThere are two types of faults: ground faults and arc faults. Ground faults are caused when electricity strays to an unplanned path to the ground — often due to damaged wires. Arc faults happen when loose or corroded wiring connections create intermittent contact.

Neither is good for your system and can be dangerous. Many inverters are equipped with arc fault and ground fault protection, automatically shutting down if one is detected. This can help keep things safe until a professional can come out and repair the issue. 

As with any electrical issue, you shouldn’t try and fix them yourself. You should contact a qualified solar technician with the proper training and safety equipment to do the job safely. 

5. Squirrel/Rodent Damage

Neighborhood wildlife may decide your solar system is a great place to build a nest, or they might chew on and interfere with wires. Love them or leave them, this type of behavior can cause issues with your solar array — specifically faults and a loss of connection. 

A certified solar installer can inspect your system for this type of damage. They’ll locate any damaged wires and repair or replace the bad parts. 

If this continues to be an issue, they can install a low-profile guard around the solar system. Made of thin but strong metal, this cage-like structure is enough of a deterrent to keep out curious animals but subtle enough to blend in with your current system.

Even if you’re particularly handy, it’s best to reach out to an experienced solar professional to analyze and fix the issue. The damaged wires could create shock hazards.

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