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Is my solar system working? How can I check it?

Step 1: Check Your Electricity Bill

Is your electricity bill showing any solar credits?

If there are solar credits appearing on your bill this does indicate your solar power system is working to some capacity. It will be difficult however to ascertain if the system is working to its full capability as it doesn't display how much energy was produced by the PV system in total, or how much of that was used in the house – it only shows the amount of solar energy exported to the grid, and the amount of electricity your household has drawn from the grid. In other words your bill will only show you the net figure you have exported to the grid from the solar, not the total amount. This net figure will also alter with seasonal changes such as in winter when you have shorter days and use different appliances at various times.

Another thing to keep in mind is many of us only receive electricity bills every quarter so that is a long time to wait and see if your system has been not working and loosing you income.

So, whilst checking your electricity bill can indicate if you solar power system has stopped working altogether, it cannot confirm if you system has issues with its overall capacity and performance.

Step 2: Check Your Solar Inverter

Is your solar inverter showing a green light? A Red light? Or is it completely blank?

A simple system check is to look at the colour of the indication lights on the front of your solar inverter during daylight hours when the system should be generating power. Do not check this at night as most systems will switch off automatically once the sun goes down. If your solar inverter is showing a green light this generally means your system is functioning properly – in the majority of cases. In some cases however we have seen some brands of inverters (such as the JSY models) showing a green light yet showing a zero production – this can be misleading as a zero productions means the system is in fact not working and producing any power.

If your inverter is showing an amber or red light this indicates something is wrong with your solar system and we advise calling a solar technician.

Is your solar inverter showing a message or code?

When a solar inverter is showing a red light, it is often accompanied by a fault message or code on its LCD display screen – this can help indicate the nature of the problem. An isolation error or ‘low riso’ message can indicate there is a problem with moisture getting in the system, usually via the solar panels on the roof or roof top isolator. This can often appear after periods of heavy rain or in the mornings when there is outside dew and then may even disappear later in the day once the panels or roof top isolator dry out. If you are noticing this happening to your system we recommend having a solar technician inspect your panels for corrosion and check if your roof top isolator is not sealed properly and needs replacing.

Other common faults can include a ‘relay failure’ or ‘relay fault’ which unfortunately indicates the inverter has a fatal internal error and will need to be replaced.

In some cases a solar inverter is displaying a red fault light has just a blank LCD screen which gives no information on the nature of the fault – often in these cases the inverter needs to be replaced.

If your system has a manual if often will tell you what each solar fault means and what the steps are to fix it, in most cases it will say to try re-setting the inverter and if that does not elliviate the problem, contact a solar technician for assistance.

What if my inverter is blank with no lights?

If your inverter is showing no lights at all, you will need to check if the solar supply main switch is in the on position in the switchboard and the isolator switch next to the inverter is also in the on position. If both of these switches are in the on position and the inverter is still blank, it will likely have a dead short inside and require a replacement.

What production is my solar inverter showing?

Checking the lights on your inverter is a great way to see what is happening, another indication you can look at is your solar production. Most inverters have a LCD screen which will show you the total production or ‘E-today” on your solar inverter. At the end of the day (before the inverter shuts down for the evening) you can check your overall production of your system for that day. This will help you identify if the system is working to its full capacity. An example would be a 1.5kw system (approximately 6 panels) would likely give an annual average of 5.7 KWh per day (this will be lower in winter and higher in summer and also depend upon the forecast of that particular day). If you notice your 1.5kw system has only produced 2 kWh for instance and it has been a clear sunny day, you may want to contact a solar technician to get your system checked.

Step 3. Check Your Solar Panels

Are you solar panels dirty or showing any damage?

If you have noticed a reduction in your overall system production, it is worth checking your solar panels for any build-up of dust of bird droppings. Having dirty panels can affect your power output. Moss and lichen growing over the panels can also impact their performance. If you notice a build-up of dirt, droppings or moss on the panels contact us on 02 4573 1441 and we can provide a quotation for cleaning your solar modules.

If you suspect your panels may be damaged from hail from a recent storm please contact our office for an on-site assessment on 02 4573 1441.

Solar Inverters - Repair Or Replace?

Is my inverter still under warranty?

Most inverters come with a standard 5 year warranty. If your inverter happens to be under 5 years old, it is definately worth investigating what options you have available to repair or replace your inverter under warranty. Firstly you will need to check if the manufacturer of your inverter is still in business.

Unfortunately a large number of inverter manufacturers have closed down or their Australian offices have closed and in these cases customers will have no avenue to have their inverter replaced or repaired under warranty. Brands we know of in this situation include:

  • CMS inverters (Carbon Management Solutions Solar Inverters)
  • Inspire Solar inverters
  • Sunny Roo inverters / Beyond Building Solar Inverters
  • Orion Inverters
  • Solarmax Inverters
  • Sunteams Inverters
  • Oelmaier Inverters
  • Effekta inverters
  • Solar King Inverters
  • Aero-sharp Inverters
  • KLNE (Kinglong New Energy) Inverters
  • Sunna Solar Inverters

If you are unsure if your inverter manufacturer is still operating please feel free to give us a call on  (02) 4573 1441, we can guide you through the process and assist with any warranty claims. We can even deal directly with the manufacturer and complete all the necessary paperwork for you. 

Should I repair or replace my solar inverter?

In cases where your inverter is no longer within the warranty period or the manufacturer has closed down, All Natural Energy can supply and install a replacement inverter for you or arrange to have your inverter repaired by a service agent. Please note however often the cost of a repair can be a very expensive option and a lot of customers would be better off purchasing a new inverter that will offer another 5 years warranty rather than paying for it to be repaired. This is especially the case with inverters 3kw or under in size. 

When repairing an old inverter the customer must consider the following costs involved: 

  • The disconnection of the faulty inverter from site by an accredited installer
  • Packaging and shipping of the faulty inverter to a service agent
  • The actual repair costs to the inverter (which will include inspection costs, parts and labour) - please keep in mind if an inverter is no longer in production some parts may be hard to source
  • Freight changes to return the repaired unit to the customer
  • Installation of the repaired inverter on-site by an accredited installer and testing of the system
  • Loss of solar income over the duration of the repair process

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