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.
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.
One of the major selling points for solar is their lack of maintenance, and the typically small amount of issues panels experience. However, GreenTech Media recently featured a study by Pecan Street that indicated that a huge amount of homeowners were completely unaware when their panels weren’t working.
A fault with solar can result in households or businesses losing power for significant amounts of time, with the Pecan Street research illustrating that not only were these solar owners unaware of the malfunction, in many cases these issues continued for weeks or even 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.
If there is a fault with your solar panels, don’t be alarmed! Solar panels contain limited components, meaning that there are limited ways a solar system can experience an issue. And even these can be simple, cost- effective fixes.
It seems obvious, but before you investigate other options, check that your solar panel hasn’t tripped at the switchboard.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.