One aspect of solar that most homeowners and business owners appreciate is how low-maintenance their solar PV systems really are. After the short installation process, the day-to-day functioning of a household or business returns to normal. However, to ensure longevity of the system working at the highest efficiencies, taking the time to perform basic Operations and Maintenance (O&M) processes is preferred. A simple, well-thought out O&M plan will ensure a solar investment continues to be a worthy and productive resource. This article outlines a few O&M tips for solar PV owners.
Check Sites’ Physical Conditions
Like all things in life, nothing is forever and everything changes. Annually, it is worth doing a site walk of your own property. If you need an expert eye, call your local installer and ask them to send an engineer out to walk your property with you. If there have been changes in the physical condition of the property, there is a chance that your panels are not working as well as they should. One of the largest problems that arise overtime are tree growth, creating shadows over the panels and reducing panel production. Another problem is development in the area. Newly constructed buildings can also create new shadows over previously installed panels. Although buildings can’t be moved, trees can be trimmed and pruned to ensure your system is working efficiently.
Keep Good Records
Another simple oversight is not keeping records. Although reputable solar installation companies will keep in touch with you after the installation of their PV system, not all companies do. Mark your calendars for annual maintenance reviews. To help maintain warranties, and ensure the inverters, combiners and modules are working at full efficiency, it takes a professional visit to your home to check out the system. If there are underperforming modules or problems with wiring, or the inverter, a solar professional can make any necessary adjustments and get your system functioning at high levels. Keeping track of maintenance creates verified records of service.
Online Monitoring is Not Set Up
Most solar systems (PV) come with the option of online monitoring. This is an important tool in an Operations and Maintenance plan as it provides 24/7 monitoring of an entire PV system. It will send immediate notifications to both the homeowner and the managing solar installer company when there are problems. Perhaps the inverter is out, a panel is under-functioning, or wires have become loose. Without online monitoring set up, these problems may go undetected until your annual maintenance review with your solar installer. This means that you are potentially losing money as your panels are not functioning at the capacity they should be.
Owning a solar system (PV) truly is a simple, low-maintenance item. Although it is powerful and quite large, there are few moving parts, making it relatively simple to upkeep. However, taking the time to oversee that the physical condition of the system is well-maintained, records are kept, annual check-ups are completed and online monitoring is set up will ensure your solar investment continues to be a worthy investment and an energy producing resource.