Standard grid-tied solar PV systems are, for the most part, “maintenance free”. However, it is prudent to attend to certain parts of your system on a regular basis. Routine checks are an easy way to protect your investment, monitor your production, and ensure your systems proper functionality.
A commonly used analogy compares solar PV systems to a vehicle. One would never purchase a vehicle without also committing themselves to maintain and provide the necessary upkeep to ensure the vehicle remains in good operating condition. While solar PV takes far less maintenance than a vehicle, it is still wise to set a schedule of routine checks to help protect your investment, just like one would schedule routine oil changes for a vehicle.
The following are a few simple maintenance suggestions:
1. Track the expiration date of your systems manufacturing warranties.
If your system is nearing the end of its warranty period, reach out to the manufacturer to inquire about purchasing an extended warranty (only applicable through certain manufacturers). This small investment has the potential to save you thousands of dollars worth of replacement components should one of your components fail.
2. Be aware of unwanted critter activity around or under your solar array.
Squirrels can be very destructive if left to their own whims under a solar array. They can build nests, chew wires, create fire hazards, cause electrical faults that turn off the array, and even cause damage to the roof surface of your home. Birds can also become a nuisance and cause similar types of damage. If you notice critter activity around or under your array you might consider calling a wildlife removal specialist, checking in with our service team to check for damages, and/or installing critter guard around your array (if you do not already have it).
3. Check and maintain the connection of your monitor on a regular basis.
If you have a monitor installed on your solar PV system, it is worth checking on a monthly or even weekly basis. If you do not have a monitor you might consider purchasing one to be installed on your system. The benefits of having a properly functioning monitor include visibility into production, confirmation of system functionality, options for system error alerts, and a money-saving troubleshooting tool. It is common for monitors to become disconnected from their original internet connection, which means they cannot record or report data. Fortunately, this is usually a simple and affordable fix.
4. Check your utility bills for abnormalities every month.
There are many factors that influence the fluctuation of the price that you might see on your utility bills, and while many of these factors are not directly tied to your solar PV system, an uncharacteristically high bill is still worth looking into. If something is wrong with your solar PV system and it goes unnoticed for a significant amount of time, it will eventually show up on your utility bill, so keeping a record of your utility bills can be very useful in the event of a production-related issue. This is especially true if you do not have a monitor installed on your solar PV system. Be sure that you are aware of yearly patterns that show up on your bills, such as higher bills in the winter when solar production is down and other weather-related events. It is also important to be aware when electrical loads are changed or added or if more residents are occupying a space as these things will also influence your utility usage and bills.
5. Schedule a professional system inspection.
If you have a concern about your system’s functionality, are selling your home and would like a system inspection report to hand off to the new owner, or just want an inspection for your peace of mind, we are here to help. IPS has highly knowledgeable electricians and service technicians on staff to deal with almost any solar PV related inquiry. We are available on weekdays from 8 am – 5 pm at 303.443.0115, or you can fill out a service request online.
Maintaining your solar PV system is simple and does not require a lot of time. Following these few maintenance suggestions can save you time, money, and annoyance in the long run.
About the Author
Tatianna Vereschagin is the Operations and Service Coordinator for IPS. She was raised in Southwest Wisconsin and enjoyed a childhood in the gardens, woods, and streams that cover the rolling hills of the Driftless Region. With a background in construction and mechanics mixed with her love of the environment, solar was a perfect fit. She spends her time away from the office hiking in the mountains, camping, day-dreaming about building a house off-grid, and traveling with her family.