10 reasons your solar system may not be working properly (and what to do about it)

Published: 16 November 2021

It’s important that your solar system is working at optimum efficiency, here’s a few reasons why it might not be.

Your solar system might not be working correctly because of inverter problems, a malfunctioning solar meter, snail trails, dirt, and dust. Other reasons your solar system might malfunction are micro-cracks, broken panels, and Potential Induced Degradation. 

Many people are replacing conventional sources of electric energy with solar energy. Using solar energy benefits the users and the environment.

However, it’s important to make sure your system is operating efficiently and if your system develops some issues you

Before the issues progress, you may notice different signs or changes in the operation of your solar system. You are likely to see an unusual light indicator that shows your solar system is not in good shape. You may also start experiencing a low power supply from your solar system.

When you start noticing these signs, you should know your solar system may not be working correctly. However, there are ways you can bring the system back to good shape.

Let’s check out in detail the reasons why your solar system might not be working. 

Read on!

1. Inverter problems

When the inverter malfunctions, it can’t convert the direct current to an alternating current. So, it provides your home with direct current only, which is not usable. To resolve this problem, you will need to speak with the manufacturer for repair.

The solar panel captures Direct Current (DC) from the sun, but this electric current is not usable in the home. You can only use Alternating Current (AC) in the house, which is where the inverter comes in handy. 

The inverter converts the direct current into usable alternating current.

In unfortunate circumstances, you may need to buy a new inverter to restore your solar system to its previous state. Solar panels are durable, but inverters may not be as durable. 

So, you need to handle this device carefully. 

You can also check other errors your inverter can develop here.

2. Malfunctioning solar meter

Even when your panels perform their function, the solar meter might not read the energy production properly. If your solar meter is not working correctly, you won’t have the right readings to calculate feed-in tariff payments or know your energy savings. The solution is to get a new solar meter.

When you notice this problem, it could be software or hardware related. Sometimes solar meters fail because the technology used becomes obsolete. For the meters that rely on internet connectivity, it could be a temporary signal loss.  

It’s best to contact your solar vendor for them to inspect your solar system. If the meter is faulty, your vendor will likely install a new solar meter with up-to-date cellular technology. 

3. Snail trails on the panels

Snail trails affect your solar panel, but this mostly happens after years of usage. Regardless of when it occurs, a snail trail will disrupt the operation of your solar system. You will need to get rid of this snail trail before your solar panel can go back to its previous state.

Snail trail is contamination or brown colouring found on the surface of panels. It is caused by the presence of defective silver paste in the manufacturing process of solar cells. The defective solar paste can generate moisture in the panels.

The moisture causes oxidation to occur between the encapsulation material and the silver paste. This oxidation further causes the breakdown of the front solar panel, resulting in the visible colouration of the solar panel. The presence of this colouration affects the solar panel’s performance, causing issues for the whole system.

If the damage caused by the snail trail is more than what can be removed, you might need to change your solar panel. 

Changing the solar panel can be a bit expensive, but it can be inevitable sometimes.

4. Dirt and dust build-up

The solar panel stays outside, where it is exposed to all kinds of dirt and dust. Prolonged exposure causes the build-up of dirt on the surface of the panel. The accumulated dirt blocks the surface of the panel from receiving sunlight. 

Solar panels tend to experience about a 1% to 2% reduction in efficiency every year. So, it is perfectly normal if you experience this slight degradation in the efficiency of your solar panels. 

But if you experience a major decrease in the efficiency of your solar system, then you might have another factor to look into.

Since the panel does not receive enough sunlight, it does not generate any current for the inverter, producing no electricity for the home.

To resolve this issue, you will need to remove the dirt and dust from the surface of the solar panel. You have to be careful when cleaning the panel’s surface to avoid any further problems.

Once the panel is open to sunlight, your solar system will return to its proper state of work. 

5. PID effect

Potential Induced Degradation (PID) can affect and reduce the performance and efficiency of your solar panels. It can also lower the lifespan of your solar panel while causing troubles for your solar system. To resolve the PID effect on your solar system, you might need the help of a professional. 

The PID effect occurs due to the voltage difference between the solar panel and the earthing. This causes the primary circuit in the system to produce partial voltage discharge. 

Call a professional over to help you reverse the problem.

You can prevent the PID effect by installing an anti-PID box. It’s best to install it even before the problem arises to prevent degradation.

6. Micro-Cracks

Micro-cracks can reduce the efficiency and performance of your solar system. They tend to affect the production of electric current in the home or office. Yet, it is difficult or nearly impossible to see these micro-cracks.

Another common reason your solar system might not be working is due to cracks. 

As time goes and weather conditions change, the cracks become more extensive. The cracks can occur due to the PV module production, seasonal, and thermal conditions.

You have to resolve this problem to restore the nonstop electricity supply to your home. 

You should quickly contact a professional to help you fix the cracks or change your solar panel if need be. You need to be extremely careful when handling your panels to avoid further cracks.

7. Broken panels

A broken panel can cause your solar system not to function correctly.  It is impossible to harness solar energy and convert it to electrical power without a functional solar panel. This is why you have to protect your solar panel dearly, as it can determine if your solar system will work properly.

Your solar system becomes more or less useless as the component that generates electricity is broken already. 

It is pretty challenging to repair a broken solar panel, so your only option might be changing and getting a new panel. 

It is best to contact a professional to know the required actions to take. Equip your solar system with a perfect solar panel(s) for the uninterrupted generation of electricity.

8. Poor workmanship

There might have been a mistake or misconnection during the system’s installation, which causes the solar system to malfunction. That’s why as soon as you install the system, your installer should walk you through the workings of your solar. You should see that it’s working before they leave.

Fixing this issue might require you to uninstall the whole system and have it reinstalled by an experienced and qualified professional.

Always contact an expert to correct faulty installation.

9. Malfunctioning breaker switches

The breaker switches are one of the numerous switches you will find in a solar system. The breaker switches control the flow of electricity in the system down into the home. If there’s an issue with the switch, there’ll be a corresponding problem with the electricity in the home.

To check if your breaker switches cause your solar system’s malfunctioning, you will need to open the breaker box.

You will have to check if any of the switches are in the ‘off’ position. 

If you have any switches in the ‘off’ position, you should turn them on for the uninterrupted flow of electricity.

10. Seasonal weather changes

Many homeowners tend to forget the action of the season on the generation of electricity in the home. The reduction or change in the production of electricity can only be as a result of season changes. At times, your solar system might not have any problems. 

The solar panels will generate the most electricity during the summer because of the high amount of sunlight. And they will generate the least electricity during winter due to the low amount of sunlight. 

You should understand these factors to know the condition of your solar system.

Conclusion

There are several reasons why your solar system may not be functioning properly. You need to know why the system is not working properly to find a solution or resolve the issue. 

Some of the reasons your solar system might not be in good condition are inverter problems, a malfunctioning solar meter, snail trails. Other reasons your solar system might malfunction are micro-cracks, seasonal changes, shoddy installation workmanship, broken panels, dirt and dust, and PID effects.

You can contact us for support if you’re experiencing problems with your solar system.

Enjoy an uninterrupted supply of electricity by resolving every issue with your solar system immediately. 

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