Sometimes people have a solar system installed, but find the output isn’t putting quite the dent in their bills that they’d hoped. Other times, they purchase a home with a pre-existing solar system that doesn’t quite live up to the hype. If that’s you, it can be disappointing to find out your investment hasn’t paid off. The good news, though, is that often it’s an issue that can be fixed.
We’ve made a list of the most common issues that may be impacting your solar production, many of which can be addressed fairly easily, leaving you with a system that does the job you paid for.
7 Ways to Improve Solar Production
1. Check how often the system has been cleaned.
If your system is looking a bit dirty, or regularly gets covered with a lot of leaves, ash, dust, bird droppings or other debris, regularly cleaning is a must. It’s not just a little change either; a good clean on a dirty system can increase your production by as much as 25%.
2. Check if parts need replacing.
Especially on older systems, certain parts need replacing to ensure peak performance. It’s important not to touch any electrical parts of your system, but you can visually check for anything that looks suspicious. Also check the screen for any red lights or error messages. If your inverter is fan cooled, and the fan is faulty, this will also decrease production in hot weather.
3. Check if there’s any shading on the panels.
A small amount of shade on even one cell can lead to reduction in that panel’s power by a third at least, which is replicated by all of the other panels in that string, or electrical group. Make sure there’s no shade over your panels throughout the day from growing trees or new constructions. Shading can change throughout the year, too, so make sure your panels are shade free throughout all four seasons.
4. Check if there is solar monitoring installed.
Although it won’t necessarily fix any underlying issues, solar monitoring can make identifying problems a much more rapid process. With real time monitoring, you can see when your system isn’t producing as much as it should, or if it’s experiencing intermittent issues. We recommend Solar Analytics which can be retrofitted to older systems and provides real time updates, as well as calculations to help you estimate your next power bill. There are a lot of inverters out there that have wifi monitoring capability that is not being utilised properly. If you bought an existing system you may also own a dodgy monitoring system, so it’s important to do your solar due diligence if you purchase a home with pre-existing solar.
5. The efficiency of the system.
There are thousands of brands of solar, which vary widely in price and quality. We recommend looking at independent third party reviews of the brands installed to see how they rate, and the efficiency they offer, both after purchase, and over their lifetime. With a few dodgy solar installers around, it’s not uncommon for people to pay top price for low end products. It is also very common to pay low dollars for a budget system. Some of these can return very low efficiency, making them more expensive in the long run.
6. The quality of the installation.
Although the quality of the system is a main component, the installation itself can also impact how well the system works. Shoddy workmanship can include not correctly wiring the system, installing in shade, not properly sealing parts which may be exposed to water, or installing an inverter in direct sunlight.
7. Check the system’s output is being correctly valued by your electricity retailer.
Sometimes, your solar output may not be correctly measured, meaning you’re being charged for electricity you didn’t actually use (or even for electricity you produced yourself). This is very rare and would be identified by an experienced CEC Accredited Installer who is on site to check your system.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, the good news is that all of these issues can be identified by an experienced solar electrician. If you have any questions about your system, or need it checked and cleaned, Proven Energy can help.
Peter is a Licensed Electrician and the Director of Proven Energy, a Clean Energy Council Approved Solar Retailer. After working in the industry, Peter’s interest in renewable energy lead him to found the company in 2012, offering honest and reliable solar system supply and installation for residential, commercial, off-grid and agricultural properties. Peter is a CEC Accredited Installer. Electrical Contractors Lic No. 74650