The day your solar installation is switched on for the first time can be very exciting – but it is important that day one isn’t the last time you’ve got your solar installation, front of mind. This is because the failure to complete regular checks can not only lead to a drop in proper performance of the installation but even pose a safety risk. For anyone with a solar installation there’s 7 questions you should ask yourself today to help ensure its ongoing efficiency and safety.
1. Is My Inverter Working Properly?
Commonly, an inverter will display a green light and a screen with a reading of various values. But if your inverter is displaying a red light – or perhaps no lights at all – it could be a sign there’s a problem. It’s always best to refer to your inverter’s manual to confirm what lights correspond to what operating state, as different lights can mean different things on varying models. Yet as a general rule – like traffic lights – if the light isn’t green it’s necessary to stop and take notice. The same applies to the display screen, if no information is showing up it’s usually an indication the inverter isn’t working properly.
2. When Was the Last Time My Installation Was Inspected?
When a solar installation is done with quality parts by a quality installer, then statistically speaking solar panels are very safe. But it’s important to understand that it’s necessary to ensure they’re inspected regularly. The reality is, the daily exposure to the outdoors that solar installations face can give rise to issues such as corrosion, water damage, animals interfering with wiring, and so on. Every installation and its surrounding environment is different – so it’s necessary to check in with a trusted electrician regarding how often precisely an inspection is recommended – but as a guide, getting an inspection once every 12-18 months is common.
3. When Was the Last Clean?
Just the same as an inspection, it’s also recommended a solar installation gets a regular clean. Environmental conditions and other factors will inform how often this should be – so check with a trusted cleaner – but getting one done every 12 months is a common timeline.
4. Has There Been a Change in the Environment Around the Solar Installation?
Solar installations work best when they have an uninterrupted view of the sky. When anything intrudes upon that view it can diminish the effectiveness of the installation. There are some obvious changes that you may recognise could have an impact. For example, if your neighbour recently decided to convert his single storey home into a 3 storey structure, and the upper levels are now shading your installation during the day. Other obstructions such as growing trees may be less immediately obvious but are still able to diminish the production of solar power if causing shading on the panels from one day to the next.
5. If There’s Been a Change, Is It Wise to Relocate the Panels?
If there’s now an obstruction to the clear line of sight to the sky your solar installation had prior it will be necessary to address it in order to restore the installation to its maximum capacity. If it’s a simple obstruction – like cutting down a branch on the aforementioned tree – then there will not be a need to relocate the solar panels. But if the obstruction will be ongoing – such as the new storeys on your neighbour’s home – then relocating the affected panels to another part of your roof should be considered. Acknowledging that taking this step may feel a little frustrating (if the cause of the obstruction is out of your hands), the good news is relocation jobs like this are usually pretty straightforward (provided relocating panels on another part of the roof is doable).
6. Am I Getting the Best Feed-in Tariff?
Not all energy providers are made equal. Across Australia, some offer better rates for a feed-in tariff than others. It’s important to check your local market – you may ultimately find there isn’t that much difference (if any at all) between the best value rate on the market and your current one – but certainly, it’s worth checking out. Not only once but regularly, in case prices change.
7. How else can I reduce my reliance on the Grid?
Every solar installation is different. So too, is every solar owner’s personal circumstances. Ultimately the question of how, what, where I can reduce my grid reliance depends on your use of power, when you use it etc. That said, consideration can be given to reduce your reliance on the grid by looking at a home battery. For a high energy user particularly at night when solar production is down, investment in a battery will certainly provide positive outcomes. Battery technology continues to improve and provides peace-of-mind (with back-up) when black-outs occur. Secondly, yet just as important as the former, is consideration of an investment in heat pump technology for your hot water system. The difference with hot water is that every home has the need for and use of hot water. Benefits will ultimately be determined by how and when you use your hot water (and how many occupants) although, most homeowners can attest to hot water use being 30-40% of their electricity bill (if electrical hot water) and the economical benefits of heat pump technology can literally save you thousands – with a far lesser investment than a battery. Depending on how and when you consume electricity consideration and your personal situation and circumstances, both of these options will change and improve your reliance on the Grid.
Regular Maintenance Will Provide Optimum Solar Performance
A rooftop solar system can help you cut down energy bills today, and insulate you against any rising cost of energy in the future. Rooftop solar installations are also fascinating and fantastic pieces of tech, and each one helps contribute to a cleaner and greener future. In order to be at their best, we have to be at our best when it comes to doing regular checks on them. Regularly reviewing these questions here will help you to get the most out of a well-maintained solar installation from one year to the next.
If you have any questions about solar panel efficiency, please contact Soltek Energy today.