You’ll know that the power grid has gone out immediately when your lights and appliances suddenly stop working. It can be frustrating, but the utility company will usually fix the issue in a matter of hours. Unfortunately, when your solar panels stop working there’s no utility company to fix them for you.
Most solar systems are linked to the grid (they are grid-tied). So if your solar panels aren’t working, your appliances and lights will simply draw electricity from the grid. You won’t notice anything is wrong until you get your next utility bill. Only then will you know exactly how much you owe. However, monitoring your solar meter regularly can help you identify the issue before your savings disappear completely.
It gets worse!
There aren’t any utility technicians that can “help” you get your system back online. As the owner of the solar installation, you are responsible for resolving the issues. Despite the numerous claims made by manufacturers and solar installers about the technology’s ability to withstand the elements, every solar system requires at least a little maintenance and servicing over the course of 20-25 years of their stated life span.
It is difficult to troubleshoot and repair a solar installation that is not working if you are not a skilled and experienced technician.
This article discusses the most common reasons why your solar panels have stopped working and the best method to fix them.
Why have your solar panels stopped working?
1. Defective solar meter
Faulty solar meters are the most common cause of solar system “malfunctions.” The panels may actually be working fine but the meter is unable to correctly read the amount of solar energy produced.
One reason for this is that solar meters become outdated over time. These meters are made using the most current cellular technology. This makes telecom companies frequently stop support for them as newer protocols become available. For instance, many solar meters created using the 2G standard will soon stop working in the modern 4G/5G world.
Additionally, some solar meters also depend on your home internet to work. This can result in disconnection due to signal loss or change in service providers. Other times, it could just be glitchy hardware or software that requires fixing.
The solution is to order a new solar meter that is based on the latest mobile protocols.
2. Breaker/Fuse Switches
Sometimes the fuses that control the flow of electricity in your home could go off. It is easy to know the reason by opening the breaker box and checking if there are any switches in the “off” position.
3. Dirt and Dust on Solar Panels
Solar panels decrease in efficiency over time. They may degrade by 1% to 2% with each passing year. This is true for all solar panels – regardless of the manufacturer. This linear degradation is already factored into the panels’ warranty coverage.
Regularly cleaning your panels is an excellent method to protect your solar energy savings. It can be done by yourself with a simple garden hose. For the best results, we recommend:
- Prevent streaking by using a purified water solution.
- Timing each rinse during cool hours to prevent splotching.
- Using safety precautions to avoid injury or damage.
4. Seasonal Changes
Solar panels generate more power during the summer months than they will during winter. These fluctuations are not unusual and shouldn’t cause you to be disturbed or alarmed.
5. Other Reasons
There are a variety of reasons why your solar panels could stop working. They include
- Overloaded or out of date wiring.
- Shoddy installation workmanship.
- Failed micro-inverters.
- Corroded components (exposed to the elements).
- Damages to components caused by squirrels, or other rodents.
- Broken panels (usually after a hailstorm).
You naturally expect that your panels will work over many decades. However, problems like these may occur more frequently than you think. These problems can lead to system failure, thus preventing your panels from generating any power.
Although immediate intervention is necessary, trying to resolve these issues yourself isn’t recommended as working with high-voltage electrical equipment is dangerous. You run the danger of injury or damage to property, and you may also void your warranty.
Read more about Solar panels and how to maintain them here.