One of the top reasons homeowners love solar energy is the ease of solar panel maintenance. Thanks to innovative design and technology advancements, your solar panels can withstand rain, wind, and even hail. Solar panels are quiet, self-sufficient workhorses that keep your home powered by harnessing the sun’s rays.
When considering investing in solar panels, many homeowners wonder how they’ll know whether or not their solar panels are actually working - solar energy generation is seamless, and you won’t interact with your solar panels as often as you interact with your home appliances (like a dishwasher or washer/dryer). You may sometimes forget that you have solar panels!
However, similar to home appliances, solar panels may need occasional maintenance. The best way to know that your solar panels are working to their full potential is to monitor your solar system performance regularly.
Solar Panel Monitoring
When you purchased your solar panels, your solar installer may have set up a solar system monitoring software. This software operates through your inverter and shows your production data.
If you own your solar panels and you don’t have system monitoring, you may not know that there’s a problem until you receive an abnormally high utility bill in the mail.
If you suspect that there’s a problem with your solar panel production, there are a few steps you can take to zero in on the problem.
How To Monitor Solar Panels
If you’re a Sunnova customer, you can see your solar production and other system information through MySunnova. We also monitor your solar production for you so that we will alert you to any issues.
Four Steps To Troubleshoot Your Solar System
If you notice a decline in your solar energy production, there are a few steps you can take to get to the root cause:
Check Your Solar System Inverter
One of the top reasons you may see a decrease in energy production from your solar panels is inverter issues. Your inverter is what takes the solar energy collected by your solar panels and turns it into energy that can be used by your home or fed back into the grid. A breakdown in this piece of technology can mean that your home solar system isn’t producing the maximum amount of energy it has the potential to produce. In turn, you may not be making the most of the net metering regulations in your state.
Most home solar systems utilize either a string inverter or micro-inverters. Checking for issues with your inverter should be the first step you take if you suspect there might be an issue with energy production from your solar panels.
String invertersconnect all of your panels in a sequence, or string, and converts their combined energy. It’s a large square or rectangle of equipment that is on the side of your house or in the garage. In the case of string inverters, you should normally see a green light. If the light is yellow or red, it’s likely that there’s an issue, and you should call your solar installers.
Micro-invertersare small, individual inverters that are integrated into each individual panel. If you believe that there is an issue with your micro-inverters, you’ll need to call a professional to take a look. You should never climb onto your roof to check your solar system.
If you’re not sure whether you have micro-inverters or a string inverter, the quickest way to find out is to check your installation agreement.
Check for Shade and Dust on Solar Panels
Your solar panels function best when they can soak up all of the sun’s rays. If they’re obstructed in any way – either from shade or dust – they won’t perform as well. When your solar system was installed, the engineers likely placed your panels in the best possible light. However, after a few years, there may be new tree growth that is shading either a small or significant portion of your solar panels.
If you notice new growth, call your arborist and have the branches removed. Track your solar production for about a week afterward to see if it increases, or if there may be another culprit behind the decline in energy production.
If your panels are in the perfect position to soak up sunlight, it’s possible that dirt, dust, or debris are affecting their energy production. Cleaning your solar panels is easy, and only needs to be done a few times a year. It’s as simple as using your garden hose to rinse off each panel.
If a hose does not reach your panels, we recommend you contact a professional solar cleaning company - you should never climb on your roof to clean your panels.
Watch Your Solar System Production Meter
On bright, sunny days, your meter should be running backward. This is because your solar panels should be producing enough energy to power your home, plus some additional energy. If you live in a net metering state, you’ll receive credits on your utility bill for the energy you export back to the grid.
If your inverter is working properly, and your solar panels are getting full sun, but your meter isn’t running backward, it’s time to call a technician.
Check the Weather
If you see a slightly higher percentage of grid usage in your home, but your solar panels seem to be functioning properly on all other fronts, it could be the weather. If your area has had an upswing in particularly cloudy or rainy days compared to its usual bright and sunny weather, you may experience a small decrease in solar energy production. When the weather evens out, so will your energy production.
If you’re a Sunnova customer, you’re covered by our 25-year Sunnova Protect™ warranty*. If you have any questions about your solar system, call us anytime. We are here to help.
Solar Panel Troubleshooting Made Simple
Keeping a watchful eye on your solar panel production can help you to identify any potential issues early and keep your solar system healthy. Finding the issues that may impact your production is easy if you know what you're looking for.
If You Own Your Solar Panels, We Can Monitor Your Solar System for You
Since 2012, nearly 60,000 Sunnova solar customers have enjoyed peace-of-mind with our Sunnova Protect™ warranty – our customers know that we are monitoring their solar production 24/7 and alerting them to any issues.
For homeowners who own their solar systems, but don’t have the reassurance of a protection plan, our industry-leading Sunnova Protect™ Service Plans warranty are now available to protect your home’s solar system and ensure it's producing to its full potential!
With service plan options that fit your needs to choose from, we help maximize your solar savings by monitoring your solar production and ensuring your home’s solar system is always working at its most optimal level.
Learn more about the different coverage options offered by our Sunnova Protect™ Service Plans. Safeguard your solar investment today.
*Limitations and conditions apply. Please refer to your Sunnova solar agreement for details.