Solargains’ dedicated service department takes pride in helping all Australians make the most out of their solar investment every day. Local and knowledgeable, our Customer Liaison Officers are always eager to do whatever they can to improve a customers solar experience. This process starts with listening to the issues customers are facing.
So, I asked our CLO’s ‘What are the common issues?” Here’s what they had to say. If you would like any further information on any of the issues below our service department are waiting to assist you on 1300 73 93 55.
5. Why is my inverter shutting down? (from Simone in the Rockingham office)
This issue can stem from a number of causes, the most common of which, we’ve listed below:
- The most common answer is a power outage. Residential PV solar systems are grid-connected, this means the system requires AC power to function. Usually, once power is restored, the inverter will begin its start up sequence and start producing.
- Insufficient irradiance, which means low sunlight - the system does not meet its minimum requirements to operate normally, this may be a problem early morning and dusk. Inclement weather, sustained cloud cover and other weather events are also included in this category. Finally, solar PV inverters do not operate at night, although some inverters may have a night mode - a function that is used to measure night time consumption via a smart meter.
- Grid voltage issues. If you imagine electricity as water, it flows like a river from high voltage to low voltage. Therefore if the grid voltage is higher than the voltage produced by the solar array, then the solar system is unable to export back to the grid (i.e push upstream). Modern inverters have the ability to de-rate production to avoid switching off completely, we call it ‘ramping’ it is a grid protection function that aims to ensure grid quality for everyone and allows for more people to enjoy the benefits of rooftop solar.
- Water ingress. The arch-nemesis of all solar PV systems, electricity and water do not make a great match and water ingress can cause an inverter to fail.
- Isolation faults. A nicked wire, degradation of cabling, seized or corroded termination points may allow water ingress into the PV array and this may cause an inverter to intermittently or completely shut down. This is common in the early morning when due may be present, or by rain showers - only for the fault to disappear when the sun has dried out the fault.
- Failed DC isolators. DC isolators may fail whether to water ingress or poor installation or product failure. This will cause the inverter to shut down.
- Less common, but having the same effect are infestations, we’ve seen bees, termites, ants, geckoes all entering the inverter via the ventilation holes. They build their nests in the fans of the inverter and can cause overheating leading to the inverter shutting down.
If your system does not automatically restart itself, you can check here for information about how to reset your inverter.
4. Do I need to clean my panels? (from Darryl in our Deception Bay office, QLD)
Solar modules have a protective film that renders them self-cleaning in the rain. Under normal conditions that should be sufficient, however in any of the following circumstances, cleaning may be worthwhile;
- In a dry, dusty region you may have insufficient rainfall to rinse your panels of dust buildup
- In a moist environment, where moss or lichen growing over your array is an issue
- If your array is on a flat roof and not installed on a tilt kit, then your array may suffer from pooling water with nowhere to run, leaving a build-up of sediment as the water evaporates; or
- If you have issues with vermin or birds leaving droppings all over your array
Whilst it is possible to clean your own array if any of the above issues are a problem for you, please consider your own safety as the priority. Solar PV arrays operate on DC current and can be potentially hazardous and surfaces can be slippery, especially when adding water.
- Avoid any chemicals and scratchy materials which may cause damage to the protective film on the module.
- A soft brush and water is all that is required. DO NOT use bore water.
- DO NOT use high-pressure water systems
- DO NOT walk on top of your array
- If you do use a small amount of detergent, be sure to rinse the soap off completely.
If you would like to book your system in for a health check, you can do so here.
3. How do I reconnect my inverter to my Wi-Fi after a Wi-Fi change? (from Ramise in our West Melbourne office, VIC)
The technological shift towards screenless inverters has caused headaches for many Australians and queries regarding monitoring have increased 300% in the past year.
The most common issues are;
- Forgotten password
- Changing password for security purposes
- Switching to the NBN
However, the most vexing issue is unexplained loss of connection and is typically caused by unstable Wi-Fi connectivity. An inverter requires up to 4 bars to connect to Wi-Fi and a stable connection needs to be maintained continuously. Option to overcome this issue include;
- Hardwiring the inverter to the router.
- Installing a Powerline Adaptor
- Installing a Wi-Fi extender
The process of reconnecting to your home Wi-Fi is different for each type of inverter, however, each manufacturer has easy to follow documentation and even youtube videos to help you reconnect. You can access these via our website, alternatively, our CLO’s are happy to walk you through it over the phone. So give us a call on 1300 73 93 55.
2. What should I do when my feed-in tariff ends? (from Chloe in our Rockingham office)
A net feed-in tariff is where a power provider will pay you for the energy you export back to the grid. The tariffs vary widely throughout Australia in terms of length of contract and rate. Due to the large uptake in solar, the days of high feed-in tariffs are numbered and as people come off their high feed-in tariff contracts they aren’t certain what happens next. Here’s the thing, you need to understand how to maximise your solar benefits;
- When your feed-in tariff is higher than the rate you pay for your energy, you should adjust your consumption patterns to send as much energy back to the grid as possible and buy your power from the grid. So setting timers for pool pumps, your dishwasher, washing machine, dryer or other large loads for when power is at its cheapest.
- When your feed-in tariff is lower than the rate you pay for your energy, you should use as much of the energy generated by your solar system as possible, i.e. the aim is self-consumption. You should also manage your consumption when your power is at its most expensive.
- If you have a large surplus of energy feeding back to the grid and you are on a low feed-in tariff, then maybe a battery is an economic option for you to maximise your benefits from your solar array.
If you’d like to learn more about the energy storage option, you can read more about solar battery systems here. Word to the wise, having solar installed is only step one in becoming more energy-efficient. The way you manage your consumption is the key to maximising these benefits.
1. What to do if my solar installer is no longer around? (from Jack in our Sydney office, NSW)
Give us a call! You can reach us on 1300 73 93 55. Our dedicated service team is on hand to assist you with any issues you may be experiencing. In fact, over 80% of our calls are from non-Solargain installations. Our CLO’s are our first point of call, we have a bespoke Solar customer relations management system and each CLO is trained in identifying issues without requiring a site visit. If a site visit is required, our technicians receive training on all new products to market and are experts in troubleshooting inverter and array issues.
We have built a strong relationship with many manufacturers and are preferred service agents for several large manufacturers. In addition, we have a warranty team that looks after monitoring and warranty issues for you and also an RMA (Return Manufacturer Authority) team who deal with manufacturers on a daily basis and are happy to champion your case. All this allows us to offer you the right advice on the state of your current system and provide you with options to consider for any recommendations we might have.