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Solar Repair (&) Maintenance

Solar Repair (&) Maintenance Why Maintain Your System?

The importance of testing and maintaining your solar system may or may not have been explained to you by your retailer. We have lost count of how many times we have heard clients tell us that their sales rep told them that rain would be enough to keep their panels clean and that would be all they would need to worry about…sound familiar? We can assure you that this is not correct and that solar panels do in fact require cleaning in order to maintain optimal performance! Read on to find out more information.

Solar systems can be broken down into 3 parts: the panels, inverter and balance of system (BOS) which all play a critical role in the performance of a system. Over the past few years there has been a lot of pressure placed on installers by retailers to install for set prices. What you don’t discover until it’s too late is that your system is being installed by a sub-contractor who is installing for set prices and is supplying their own BOS, with no quality control.

Whilst most installers are doing a fantastic job suppling and installing the correct components to the Australian Standards and we salute some of the masterpieces we see installed around Queensland. Sadly some installers are not doing such a great job. In this industry you get what you pay for! Did you inspect the BOS elements of your system prior to installation?

Whilst high quality and correctly installed solar systems are robust and designed to endure harsh climates like ours, this does not offer automatic protection from equipment failure, mechanical damage or other issues. Take a look at common issues we have encountered during our many years in the industry.

A solar system will be on your home or business for a minimum of 25 years and subjected to our challenging environment. You want to be sure that your investment is electrically safe, installed correctly and performing at optimal levels.

Most of the issues we see relate to the poor quality BOS components, poor quality panels that are not fit for our climate, poor installation techniques and animal damage which all result in underperformance and in some cases unsafe systems. When it comes to the safety of your family and your home, an annual inspection and safety check is a small price to pay.

Recent random testing of 3012 installed PV solar systems carried out across Australia by the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) produced some worrying statistics. The CER do a fantastic job and we applaud their efforts, however it’s just not possible for them to inspect every installation in Australia.

Snapshot of the Testing Results

129 systems were classed as unsafe and posing imminent risk of damage to property or persons. Approximately three quarters had incorrectly installed DC isolator enclosures with signs of water damage. The remainder had issues with the panel mounting, or had exposed live parts.

632 systems were classed as substandard meaning they did not meet key clauses in the standards and requirements for installation and could lead to premature equipment failure or other issues. The installation work and or equipment for these systems were considered to requiring improvement. DC isolators for these systems were under-rated for the voltage output of the system. Approximately 50% had polarised DC isolators that were incorrectly wired or not rated for direct current. A small proportion had workmanship issues relating to wiring or brackets.

You can view the CER the reports by clicking here

WARNING: Never touch anything that looks damaged, if you are unsure call an electrician. All electrical work or repairs must be completed by qualified electrician.

WARNING:Never climb onto a roof for any reason. Cleaning your panels to gain a few more kWhs is not worth your precious life, EVER! Leave it to the experts.

Question: How often should you test and service your system?

See below for an overview of recommendations adapted from AS/NZS 5033:2012 Installation and safety requirements for photovoltaic (PV) arrays Appendix C.

  1. PV Panels – Cleaning - Quarterly
  2. PV Panels – Inspection - Annually
  3. BOS – Inspection - Annually
  4. Electrical Characteristics Testing - Annually

If you have had your system installed and you have trouble answering the following questions please contact us to arrange a safety inspection

1. Has your system been installed to the following standards 4777,5033, 3000,1170.2? 2. Has your system been tested since its installation? 3. Is your system performing correctly? 4. Are any of the following retailers or manufacturer’s warranties about to expire? - Installation and workmanship? - Inverter manufacturer’s warranty? - Panel manufacturer’s warranty?

Regular Maintenance

Can pick up issues relating to warranty claims, saving you thousands of dollars. Systems that are not installed correctly or have substandard BOS components can result in underperforming systems, or pose a real risk to life and property.

TIP: Failing to properly maintain your system could void warranties and insurance claims.