Are you thinking about installing solar panels in your home? Or do you already have a solar system and are experiencing problems?
Whatever the case may be, it’s important to be well-informed about some of the issues that can arise with your solar energy systems. In this guide, we’ll cover everything from cloudy days affecting panel efficiency to pests damaging solar installations.
By knowing what to expect and how to troubleshoot these common problems, you can ensure that your investment in solar energy is a smart one. So, let’s dive into the world of solar and tackle any potential issues head-on!
Solar Panels: A Brief Overview
We’ve all seen what greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are doing to the environment. Luckily, there are numerous ways we can help right some of these wrongs with renewable energy sources such as solar power.
Thanks to smarter technology and lower installation costs, solar panels are becoming a popular choice for those looking to reduce their carbon footprint and save money on energy bills. However, solar arrays aren’t infallible and do occasionally have problems that require the intervention of qualified solar engineers.
One of their most common problems is that solar panels can be affected by debris, such as dirt, pollen, leaves, and dust. This can reduce the efficiency of the whole array of solar cells, and if left unchecked, can cause malfunction and serious headaches for solar panel owners.
Solar panels can also be damaged by extreme weather, such as hail or strong winds. While this damage is typically not covered by warranties, homeowners can take steps to protect their investment by installing hail-resistant roofing shingles or windbreaks.
They should also do regular maintenance checks on their panels to remove any debris and fix anything needing repair.
10 Common Problems with Solar Panels
Solar panels are becoming increasingly popular as a way to save on energy costs, but there are a few common problems that can occur.
If you’re a homeowner with solar panels, it’s imperative to be aware of the potential problems with their set-up and maintenance. And while solar panel installations are generally low-maintenance, there are a few things that can go wrong.
Here are some of the most common problems with solar panels and what you can do to fix them.
1. Dirty Solar Panels
One of the most common problems with solar panels is that they can get covered with mud, dirt, and debris. Also, over time, bird droppings and pollen also accumulate on the panels, reducing their efficiency.
That’s why we recommend cleaning your solar panels at least once a year to remove any debris that may have built up on the surface. This will help keep your solar power system in optimal condition and ensure it can maximise energy production.
2. Malfunctioning Inverters
Think of the inverter in the solar array as the engine of a car. Just like your car can’t run without an engine, solar panels can’t operate without an inverter.
Why? Well, the inverter is what is responsible for converting the direct current (DC) generated by the panels into alternating current (AC). Since your home’s electrical system is wired to run only on AC power, that means that without an inverter, solar panels would be useless.
That’s why the first thing solar maintenance engineers generally check over when there is a problem with a solar PV system is the inverter. That’s because if it malfunctions, it can reduce the system’s overall efficiency or even shut it down completely.
3. Low Output
If your solar panels aren’t generating as much power as they should be, it could be due to several factors. The first reason is that they could be shaded by trees or buildings. Another reason is that they were originally installed in an area with low sunlight.
Then, of course, it could simply be because the panel itself is no longer working properly for one reason or another. If you think there may be an issue with your panel’s output, you should contact a qualified technician for further troubleshooting.
4. Faulty Connections and Wiring
In all solar systems, the solar panels are connected to an inverter, which is then connected to the home’s electrical panel. The inverter converts the DC power from the solar panels into AC power that can be used by the home.
Problems with solar panel connections can occur at any of these three points. First, there’s the area between the solar panels and the inverter. Additionally, there’s the point between the inverter and the electrical panel. Plus, the electrical panel itself may have a wiring problem.
Solar panel connection issues are often caused by faulty wiring. The most common problem is a loose connection between the wires and the terminals on either the solar panels or the inverter. This can be due to corrosion, damage, or simply a poor connection.
Loose connections can cause intermittent problems with the system, including power fluctuations and shorts. They can also cause the array to work less efficiently and may even create a fire hazard.
So, make sure you regularly check the connections. If you suspect a problem with your solar panel connections, it’s best to have a professional check it out. They’ll be able to check for loose connections, damage, and corrosion. They can also test the system to see if the entire system is performing as it should.
5. Changes in Temperature and Humidity
As the temperatures outside increase, the efficiency of your solar panels will decrease. This is because the hotter it gets, the less effective the cells become at converting sunlight into electricity.
Surprisingly, your solar panels may produce more electricity on a cool day than on a hot one. One reason is that when there’s sufficient air ventilation around the panels, it boosts their efficiency and maximises energy production.
Humidity can also affect your solar panel’s output because when it’s humid, there are more water droplets in the air. This can cause a drop in output since water vapour creates a thin, invisible shield on the surface of the panels that can block sunlight from reaching the cells.
6. Damage Caused by Extreme Weather Conditions
In addition, say you live in an area with extreme weather conditions like severe thunderstorms, heavy rain, or floods, your solar panels may be at risk of damage from high winds or flying debris.
When severe weather hits, your solar panels can become damaged. High winds, hail, and other types of storms can damage the panels, which can lead to lower efficiency and energy output while increasing costs.
It is therefore essential to routinely inspect your panels after a storm to ensure they’re still in good working condition. If you find damage on any part of the panels, you must get them repaired or replaced as soon as possible. Leaving damaged panels can lead to even more expensive repairs further down the line.
Some manufacturers offer weather protection plans that cover the cost of damages from specific types of weather events. If you live in an area with severe weather conditions, it may be worth considering one of these plans.
7. Poor Installation and Maintenance
If your solar panel system wasn’t installed properly or isn’t being regularly maintained, that can lead to problems in the future.
For one, the system may not be working up to standards, which means it’s not producing as much energy as it should. Additionally, the system may be more likely to experience power fluctuations during a power outage for example. Over time, that can reduce its efficiency and even shorten its lifespan.
Keep in mind that poorly installed or maintained solar panel systems are also most likely to pose a safety risk to you and your family. That’s why it’s essential to keep up with their maintenance and repairs as instructed by the manufacturer.
8. Diminished Energy Transformation
Solar panels aren’t 100% efficient at converting sunlight into electricity. This means that while they’re extremely effective at reducing your carbon footprint, they’re not always the most cost-effective option for providing power to your home.
In addition, solar panels can be expensive to install and they also require some maintenance over their lifetime. Solar panels also need to be installed in a sunny location at precise angles to work effectively, which isn’t always possible or practical.
9. Not Getting Direct Sunlight
If your home is shaded by trees and other buildings, you may experience occasional obstructions and interruptions of the sun’s rays. While this won’t necessarily have a significant impact on your overall energy production, it can affect your system’s performance on any given day.
When it comes to location, solar panels need to be in an area that receives direct sunlight for the majority of the day. If they’re not, then they won’t be able to generate as much power. Additionally, if your home is in a shady area or if there are trees nearby that block the sun, that can also impact the efficiency of your solar panels.
To protect your investment, we recommend that you have a qualified professional inspect your system regularly and perform any necessary maintenance or repairs.
10. Outdated Technology
As you’ve seen, there could be several underlying issues that can reduce your solar panels’ efficiency. Yet, the most common reason is often simply outdated technology.
Even though the solar panel industry has been prevalent for only a few years, the technology behind it has come a long way in recent years. However, if you have an older system, it may not be as efficient as the newer models currently on the market.
Additionally, solar panel companies are always competing over who can provide arrays that are more reliable and efficient than their competition. That’s why it’s always a good idea to research the top manufacturers to see which brands offer the most appealing options for you and your home to ensure you get the most out of your panels.
Common Solar Panel Problems Conclusion
Solar panels for your home can be an excellent investment. Yet, it’s important to recognise the potential pitfalls and common problems that may arise during installation and use.
We hope this in-depth guide has given you a good understanding of these issues. This way, you can make an informed decision as a homeowner before investing in solar panels.
By taking precautions with maintenance and quality control, and trusting your installation and maintenance to a company like ESE Group, you can ensure that your solar panels provide reliable, high-quality renewable energy for many years to come.