DIY Solar Panel Maintenance: Checklist, Cost, Frequency & Tips for 2021

Solar Service And Maintenance

What is the most common method we see customers using to check the health and performance of their Solar PV System?

I have been a designer, consultant, sales, auditor, and after-sales service provider for thousands of solar PV systems, to private residential, rentals, private companies, and public organisations in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

 

Do Solar Systems Need Maintenance?

As a large proportion of my practice has been after-sales service, I have taken the time to ask people who took a significant amount of time to decide on a solar PV system, whether or not they monitor it afterwards ?

The most common answer is, “I check my electricity bill”.

The potential risks associated with this method is BILL SHOCK and MISSING EARLY VITAL SIGNS THAT CAN LEAD TO LARGER MORE EXPENSIVE ONES.

 

As a solar and battery storage system professional, I can confidently compare that to not having your car serviced or not having an annual medical. There is a common-sense reason for doing so: Nobody teaches you the importance of it.

Cost of Solar Panel Maintenance

The power bill, or at least the front page is usually the most read page of the document. We concentrate on who owes who, what the amount is, and when the amount is due. Aside from the odd time a bill is higher than normal, it is usually mundane … that is, until the solar PV system STOPS.

How Often Does Solar Panel Need Maintenance?

It is a very common practice for a solar installation service provider to leave it to the owner to try to understand how to monitor a very valuable 25-year investment. It is usually a discussion about projected savings, installation, connection, then the owner is left with the most important task, monitoring it.

Solar Panel Maintenance Checklist for 2021

It is a rare client that asks how to monitor, and those who don’t…a common regret.  If you have not already, it begins with three simple steps and a few minutes of time:

FIRST STEP – Request and retain copies of all purchase documents regarding the solar PV system, especially the Certificate of Compliance or similar thereof in a secure location.

Whilst you have that info in your hands, do yourself a favour – Write in permanent ink onto the inside of your meter box door:

  • installation date of solar PV (and battery storage) system
  • solar metering date
  • years of inverter warranty
  • years of panel warranty
  • 25-year performance guarantee
  • where you stored the documents
  • date of latest safety check

SECOND STEP – Ask the company that sold the system, how much the solar PV system should generate, not in dollars, but in kWh/day annual average (kWHpdaa).

A measure in kWHpdaa is a direct measure, like your car’s fuel gauge.  No other factors mixed in.  Once you have that information, you will be able to access the solar PV system and storage system to gauge kWHpdaa.

THIRD STEP – Homeowners, check your system weekly.  Business owners, check daily.
Like all other investments, a well looked-after system will return more than the initial capital.  Missing out on early vital signals can be very expensive and depletes the investment quickly.

Some of the most successful tips have been to add a note to where you hang reusable shopping bags or adding a weekly reminder task to your mobile.
Businesses owners, add an appointment reminder every business day. Whoever checks it, adds a picture of the displayed info.

Solar Panel Maintenance Tips for 2021

Whilst looking at the display, check for the following:

  • If there is plenty of sunshine but the system display is off and not responding to any buttons being pressed, then it needs to be checked by a solar electrician and preferably by a Clean Energy Council approved solar retailer. If you have found that a switch has tripped off, and it trips shortly after turning back on, then leave the switch alone and contact us for a safety check.
  • Is the inverter showing an error? Most solar PV systems were designed to indicate that it needs assistance, commonly referred to as an error code. This is usually in the manual – if you find the pages, or you have been shown it, mark the pages. If it is linked to Wi-Fi, it will record those error codes.
  • Does the system’s generation over the last week (for home) or day (for business) closely match the expected kWHpdaa adjusted for the appropriate season?
  • At midday, is the system at maximum expected generation?
  • When was the solar PV system cleaned and maintained? Has it been longer than a year?
  • Has the last safety check been longer than a year?
  • Has the system been checked before warranty ends? Once the warranty ends, there are less options, and usually more expensive.

 

If you need help, call us on 1300 774 897 during business hours, or email sales@solarserviceguys.com.au with the following information:

Name or Business Name
Contact number and best time for us to call
Address
Photo of the inverter(s) and Close-up photo of the display

Source: Jeffrey Cheah: Senior Case Manager