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How to Tell If Your Solar Panels Are Working?

Transitioning from conventional fossil fuels to solar power is a pivotal step toward a clean energy alternative that promotes sustainable living. Once the installation setup is successful, one needs to ensure that solar panels are operating at their optimal efficiency. This article will ensure you understand the key indicators and the knowledge required to ensure your solar systems are performing and harnessing energy at their full potential.

How Do You Know If Your Solar Panels Are Working?

If you have already installed rooftop solar panels or are considering installing one, you need to ensure the panels are working at their full capacity. Solar panels are designed to offer long-term, durable performance.

Here are five ways you can ensure your solar system is working at its optimal performance,

Inspect Inverter

Solar panel inverter is one of the key components that contribute to your solar system’s functioning. It can be referred to as the ‘brains’ of your home solar system. Inverters provide a means of communications between the system and the computer network that monitor system performance, ensuring that it converts direct current into alternating current.

A malfunctioning inverter can directly affect the performance of the solar system. The most common point of failure for any solar system is an inverter. It is equipped with indicator lights as follows,

  • Green light – All good with your inverter
  • Red or orange – Your solar system is experiencing a potential issue.
  • Red flash – Need troubleshooting; you need to contact your inverter manufacturer or your solar company.

Inspect Electric Meter

Ideally, opting for solar is to consume less electricity from the utility. Hence, the net metering system attached to the solar system displays all the information about the total watts of your solar panels through the different screens. It monitors how much electricity your home consumes and how much energy is generated. When excess energy is generated, it will be credited back to the grid, and your meter will credit you for that excess energy production.

So, in order to check if your solar panel is working, check your electric meter during the day. If it shows that you’re drawing power from the grid, then there is likely an issue with your solar installation. As long as the watt-hours measurement is increasing, your panel will work fine. If there are changes in those measurements, you can reach out to your solar company.

Check Weather Conditions

Usually, the solar power generated is equally proportional to the amount of sun rays received on the day. Based on the current forecast, solar panels in India are likely to operate at 10% to 25% efficiency. The efficiency of these panels depends on the overall climate of the area, such as day-to-day weather forecasts and long-term seasonal effects.

So, ultimately, what matters the most is how much sun your home gets year-round. So, if you notice the power generation fluctuates outside of established capacity, that might be because of bad weather conditions.

Check Your Electric Bills

The primary reason to go for alternative energy like solar energy systems is to significantly reduce your monthly utility bill, i.e., your electric bill. So, if your solar panel is working well, it will reduce your electricity bills.

The amount you pay each month for utility can fluctuate, as it depends on the energy usage from your residential solar panels. So, one way to check if your solar panel isn’t working is to check when your utility bill starts to get high again.

Check for Barriers

Yet another effective way to check if your solar panel is working is to check for barriers. That means anything that blocks sunlight from hitting the solar panel, like tree branches, dirt, dust, or even bird poop, can result in lower solar panel efficiency. 

To ensure your solar panels are free from barriers, ensure,

  • Spraying or hosing the panels with water once a month.
  • Deep cleaning your panels with water and soap once a year.
  • Trimming the branches that touch the solar panel.

Factors that Affect the Performance of Solar Power Output

As we are aware of all the steps to check if your solar system is working, here are five factors that can potentially affect the performance of your solar panel output to look out for. 

  1. Naturally, solar panel outputs are higher in summer and lesser in winter.
  2. When measuring your solar power output, midday is the best time of the day.
  3. Panels facing east or west usually generate lower energy during the day, so titling them optimally can help generate more energy.
  4. During the conversion from direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC), there could be a power loss of about 2% in the cables and 3-4% in the inverter.
  5. During cloudy weather conditions, solar power outputs can drop with reduced solar radiation.

What Should You Do If Your Panels Aren’t Working?

Now that you have discovered your solar panels are not working, you need to be aware of the steps to diagnose the issue, before calling your solar panel company for maintenance.

  • See if there is a trip in the circuit breaker or malfunctioning of your inverter.
  • Restart your inverted if it shows an orange light. It could sometimes clear out any system faults.
  • Have a look at the wiring for any damages.

These tips will analyse your system faults or any necessary repairs. After all the preliminary checks are done, you can call your solar panel company for a comprehensive investigation. The solar technicians can, in turn, verify how much solar power you are producing, address any system vulnerabilities, and more.

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