Solar Maintenance Blog

Help – My Solar Panels Are Not Working Anymore!

June 10, 2019

When the power grid goes down, you know immediately since your lights and appliances suddenly stop working. It’s frustrating, but you can trust that utility operators will work to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately, none of this applies to solar power.

Most photovoltaic (PV) systems are grid-tied. So if your solar panels stop working, your appliances and lights simply take electricity from the grid. You won’t know something’s wrong until you see your next bill and discover how much money you actually owe.

Regularly checking your solar meter might help you detect the problem before your savings disappear completely. Even still, you’ll owe the utility company more money than you budgeted for.

It gets worse.

There are no utility technicians to “help” you get your system back online. As the solar installation owner, it’s your responsibility to resolve any issues. Despite the many promises that solar installers and manufacturers make about the technology’s resilience, every PV system requires at least some maintenance and servicing over the 20 to 25 years of their warrantied lifetimes.

Unless you’re an experienced and trained solar technician, it’s very difficult to troubleshoot a non-working solar installation if you don’t know the root cause of the problem.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the most common reasons why your solar panels have stopped working – and how to fix the issue.

1. Faulty Solar Meter

Faulty solar meters are a leading cause of PV system “malfunctions.” The panels actually work fine, but the meter is unable to read solar energy production correctly.

One reason this happens is that solar meters become obsolete over time. They’re manufactured using the latest cellular technology, but telecom carriers regularly phase out support as newer protocols emerge. For example, many solar meters built using the 2G standard will soon no longer work in today’s 4G/5G world.

In addition, some solar meters rely on your home’s Internet, which can easily become disconnected due to signal losses or changes in service providers. Other times, it’s just glitchy software or hardware that needs to be fixed.

The solution is to commission a new solar meter that uses the most current cellular protocols. If it’s a truly faulty meter, we’ll work with the meter reporting company to determine whether the problem is software or hardware-related.

Either way, we can help you fix the issue.

2. Breaker Switches

The fuses that control electrical flow in your home can sometimes get tripped. You can quickly determine if this is the cause by opening up your breaker box to see if any switches are in the “off” position.

If you’re not sure how to check your breaker switches, we can walk you through the steps over the phone.

3. Seasonal Changes

Many solar homeowners are so focused on monthly (or daily) savings that they become worried when their PV system’s performance changes over time. But in fact, it’s very common for your utility bill to grow larger and smaller throughout the year as the seasons progress.

For example, your solar panels will generate more power during the summer months than they will during the winter months. These fluctuations are perfectly normal, and you shouldn’t be alarmed.

The solution involves waiting to collect more data.

3. Dirt & Dust

Solar PV panels degrade over time, losing about 1% to 2% efficiency with each passing year. This is true of all solar panels – regardless of the manufacturer. And this linear degradation is already factored into the panels’ warranty coverage.

However, major performance dips from year-to-year are not normal. If this is happening with your installation, a likely culprit is dust build-up. As dirt and debris collect, they block sunshine – which negatively impacts solar electricity output.

To protect your solar savings, regular panel cleaning is the best strategy. You can do this yourself with a simple garden hose. But for optimal results, we recommend:

  • Using a purified water solution to avoid streaking
  • Timing each rinse during cooler hours to avoid splotching
  • Employing safety precautions to avoid injury or damage

At Stable Solar, we offer professional solar panel cleaning – both as one-time and annual services.

4. Everything Else

There are plenty of other reasons why your solar panels might stop working that aren’t on this list, including:

  • Shoddy installation workmanship
  • Outdated or overloaded wiring
  • Corroded components (exposed to the weather)
  • Failed micro-inverters
  • Component damage caused by squirrels or other rodents
  • Broken panels (usually following a hailstorm)

Over the many decades, you expect your panels to work, but issues like these can occur more frequently than you realize. In many cases, these problems can actually lead to total system failure – preventing your panels from generating any power at all.

Although immediate intervention is necessary, troubleshooting these issues on your own isn’t recommended since working with high-voltage electrical equipment is inherently dangerous. In addition to the ever-present risk of injury or property damage, trying to fix the problem by yourself could nullify your panels’ warranty coverage.

That’s the bad news.

Now for some good news.

We Can Restore Your Solar Panels to Their Former Production Levels

At Stable Solar, we specialize in helping homeowners get their non-working PV systems back online as quickly as possible. This is true whether your solar panels stop working due to faulty meters, tripped breaker switches or dust build-up. It’s also true if your solar installation stops generating power for any of the less frequent reasons listed above.

In some cases, we can even troubleshoot these more extreme cases remotely – without having to send technicians to diagnose the problem in-person. This saves valuable time by eliminating unnecessary back-and-forth.

And best of all, our diagnostic phone calls are 100% free.

So if your solar panels stop working for any reason – reach out to us ASAP so we can bring your system back online and protect your monthly utility bill savings.

To get started, schedule your free diagnostic phone call today.

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