How to Troubleshoot a Solar System


Solar panels are among the most efficient and reliable sources of energy. The solar panels and solar batteries are known to last for a long period of time and also to withstand harsh weather conditions. With all these advantages, solar systems usually fail occasionally and troubleshooting the system is required so as to get the system to its normal functioning.

There are two main states that can necessitate a solar system troubleshoot:

1. No power output or zero power output

This a common condition that is usually caused by either faulty inverter or a faulty charge controller. It can also be caused by the failure of one solar panel in the PV array. PV arrays are usually connected in series and thus a failure in one of the PV will cause shut down of the whole system.

2. Low power output

This condition is also common and it may be caused by a number of factors:

a. Shading

Shading should always be avoided at all times. Shading causes massive loss of power output and solar panels need high exposure to sun light so as to produce high power outputs. One should always make sure that there are no tree branches blocking the solar panels from direct sunlight. Dust and debris also causes shading. Solar panels should always be cleaned to prevent dust and debris particles from causing shading on the solar panels. Bi annual survey of the solar panel surrounding is highly advised so as to maintain maximum power output.

b. Temperature

Solar panels don’t perform well when subjected to high temperatures. Voltage drop increases with a rise in the solar panel temperatures. This problem can be curbed by increasing more modules in each string (in series) or merging some strings so that they can get high voltage which will help them power through in times of high temperatures.

c. Faulty connections

Professional wiring is highly advised so as to avoid low power output conditions. The wires should always be water tight and insulated. Poor wiring may cause loose connections, corrosion and oxidation of the wires. Voltage levels at various parts of your connection can be checked by the use of a multimeter so as to help you find out the points at which low voltage problems start.

d. Solar panel faults

This condition is not common as most of the solar panels are able to sustain harsh weather conditions and last for a long period of time i.e 25 years. Checking on your solar panels is also advised as the last resort. The main defects a solar panel may experience are: Delamination, junction box faults ( increased resistance in the junction boxes due to exposure to moisture), hot spots and Potential Induced Degradation (PID).

It should be noted that one should check all these factors and if the problem still persists he/she should call a specialist.