Solar Repair - Identify the Issue

solar repair identify the issue
Solar Repair - Identify the Issue & Performance Impact

Regardless of how well you’ve maintained your solar energy system, eventually, it will run into issues, regardless of who installed it. Picking the right solar installer will ensure that you will have fewer problems with your solar energy system in the future. And by being able to determine what challenges you may be experiencing with your solar energy system can help you ensure that your solar system lasts for a long time.

Let’s say it’s a beautiful warm sunny day in the middle of summer, and you open up your solar monitoring portal and realize that your solar energy system hasn’t been producing for a few months! Or perhaps a power outage just occurred, only to find out that afterward, your solar inverter is having issues. Have you considered what you would do in this kind of situation?

Your solar energy system is going to be one of your home’s most exciting home improvements. It is an investment that you made to offset future electricity costs, yet your solar panel system is often disregarded because it requires such little maintenance.

If you start noticing issues with your solar energy system and leave it unattended, you’re making double payments, and the problem could get even worse. Having a nonperforming solar energy system can be disturbing, you’re paying for the electricity that your solar power system should be offsetting while you’re also paying for the cost of the system.

Diagnosing Solar Energy System Issues

To avoid solar repair problems, first, you have to ensure that your solar energy system didn’t experience specific typical issues before you call your solar repair specialists.

Has your production fallen below the production threshold?

  • Is it a small % decrease
  • Substantial % decrease
  • Not producing at all
  • Is the inverter not reporting?
  • Is it impacting one solar panel, a group, or the entire system?
  • Is the inverter not being detected?

Solar Repair Sanity Checklist to Quickly Diagnose Your Solar Issue

  • Updated your WiFi account/password lately?
  • Less than a 5% decrease in performance?
  • Recent bad weather?
  • Does the inverter use batteries? If so, try replacing the batteries

Some of the most common solar repair issues can be fixed with a quick sanity check. If you updated your WiFi password lately, you might not be able to monitor your panels, causing an error. Despite not being able to monitor performance, your solar panels should have still been generating electricity. Thankfully your solar arrays don’t need an internet connection to produce energy.

There are a few factors that can impact your solar energy system’s performance slightly. If your solar panels are new, you will see a bit of degradation of the solar panel efficiency occur across the first three years. This loss of energy productivity occurs across all solar panels, and when you add dirty solar panels, it can lead to a slight decrease in performance that is a bit of a nuisance.

Unusual weather may trigger a production issue because actual system production is below estimated production even though the system is functioning normally. Check recent weather conditions in the area to determine if this is the case. If a system frequently flags a production issue due to weather, you may wish to lower the threshold versus the estimate.

Most Common Solar Repair Issues

Nearly four in ten solar PV owners we surveyed that have had a problem with their solar energy system, reported issues with their inverters—accounting for 40% of all of the problems and faults that homeowners with solar problems referenced. Solar inverter issues were also the most serious, and, in some cases, with string inverters, it can prevent the entire solar panel system from generating any usable energy. Solar microinverters allow each solar panel to act independently, making it much easier to diagnose and repair compared to string inverters.

Read on to find out the next most-common issues faced by owners of solar panels, and expert tips on how to solve them. Or check out our advice on buying solar panels.

Is the issue a solar panel or your solar energy system?

Top 3 Common Solar Panel Issues:

  • Hot Spots
  • Interconnection
  • Glass Breakage

Hot Spots – Hot spots typically occur when panels are locally shadowed. Hot spots are the most common issue that impacts the efficiency of a solar panel system. The great news is, it is typically preventable when whatever may be causing the localized shading is removed. Localized shading generally is addressed when you do your installation. Your solar energy system installer will help point out areas of shading that can impact your solar energy system.

IC Discoloration -This is a discoloration of the interconnection (IC). This discoloration is typically seen when the interconnection changes to more of a rusty hue. It is a sign that there could be corrosion in your panels. It isn’t a failure necessarily but could highlight the need to ensure proper monitoring of how much your solar system is generating.

Glass Breakage – This is due to a few different applications. Typically panels are incredibly durable, and the glass is exceptionally resilient. However, enough blunt force can crack and break the glass that encases the solar panels.

Most solar panels are well built, ensured to last for years. They are tested under some of the harshest scenarios to check for their reliability. Read more about solar panel reliability, quality and testing. Regardless of the weather conditions, your solar panels are built to undergo some extreme conditions to ensure it stands the test of time.

Reliability Tests
Damp Heat (DH) – Induces stress resulting from high humidity at very high temperatures.
Testing Conditions: Constant Temperature of 185* and humidity of 85%
To Test For: Corrosion, discoloration, and connector issues.

Thermal Cycling (TC) – Induces stress with high and low temperatures.
Testing Conditions: Solar Panels undergo multiple cycles in 185F to -40F environments.
To Test For: Cell Cracks, Mechanical instability.

Humidity Freeze (HF) – A combination of the damp heat and thermal cycling.
Testing Conditions: 85% Relative humidity which fluctuating the temperature from super hot to super cold (185F while cycling to -40F).
To Test For: Cell Cracks, Mechanical Instability, and Delamination

Read more about solar energy reliability tests.

Common Solar Energy System Problems

Solar Inverter Problems

Are the most common problems with solar panels. They are the most common reason for solar system issues. Even a slight loss of production can be very bothersome and even annoying if you don’t know how to improve the efficiency of your solar panels. Not to mention that this will also make your Net Energy Metering (NEM) electricity bill higher than usual. Throughout regular use, your inverter will fail, and most solar inverters are guaranteed for up to 10 years.

Dirty Solar Panels Impacting Performance

Dirty solar panels can be a nuisance, both to look at and in terms of efficiency. Although the dirt on your solar panels may seem like it is substantially impacting the performance of your solar panels, their overall performance is affected by only 1% - 5%. Though cleaning your solar panels may seem to be an easy job that will substantially improve how much electricity your solar will generate, but sometimes, it isn’t worth it. Consider calling a professional to deal with this problem to save you on your cleaning time.

DIY Solar Cleaning
If you are looking to ensure you don’t see a loss in performance from dirty panels, we recommend that you get your solar panels cleaned once or twice a year. Using a garden hose with a cleaning mixture made from everyday household items should help keep your solar panels looking clean at operating at maximum efficiency.

Solar Panel Household Cleaning Mixture:

  • 1 Part Vinegar
  • 2 Parts Water Solution

Solar Tip: We recommend that any rinsing be done in the early morning when the solar panels are still cool.

Updated WiFi Password/Account
There is nothing more frustrating than dealing with your home WiFi. From working with your internet provider to set up your password, the process can be very annoying and inconvenient. Nobody should expect you to be a tech wizard when you install your solar. So if you are experiencing a problem right after you updated your WiFi password/account, you may have diagnosed that you need to resync your WiFi account to the solar inverter.

Electrical Faults
A solar energy system often experiences electrical faults that can come about from poor solar panel installation workmanship. These faults are often a result of bad wiring practices, or improper wiring. The areas that are typically impacted from these faults are at the point of connection, tension and areas where wires can have friction.

These are the typical places where you can find your electrical fault. If you have a string inverter, each solar panel will need to be lifted to see where the fault is coming from. With microinverters, it will be much easier to diagnose where the electrical fault is occurring. Through proper preparation, materials and quality workmanship during the installation process can reduce the risk of ground faults and short-circuits the PV circuit.

When in Need, Call a Solar Repair and Install Expert

We do all the work from designing the solar panels on your roof, to making sure the solar panel installation project meets your expectations. Our expert staff and experienced solar technicians specialize in coordinating every phase of your design and creating the solar energy system of your dreams.

Our services include:

Forme Solar is your best choice for commercial and residential solar panel repair and installation services. We provide everything from diagnosing solar issues, solar panel repairs, installations, and maintenance services for all types of solar power systems. No job is too big or small.

Our solar energy experts can talk through the design and price options of both the solar panel system and financing to help you prioritize what you want versus what you need for your home. Call our Orange County office (714) 694-2262 today. We’ll get to your home for solar repair or solar installation as soon as possible!