As much as you’d like to think it is, solar isn’t a miracle. Sure it can create energy from something that costs nothing, but it’s not without its problems as well.

These are some of the most common problems you could experience with your solar:
Micro-cracks: These occur on the PV panels and are teeny tiny (microscopic) tears that make their home in your solar cells. The cracks can be a result of bad handling during the shipping or installation process, or they could be made during production itself. While the effects of these cracks might not be immediate, over time they can expand and when tiny cracks grow bigger – that’s when you could end up with a loss of solar production.

Hot spots: Although your panels are designed to get heat from the sun, there are some spots that become warm due to overloading. This is generally a result of connections that haven’t been soldered properly, which causes low resistance and higher voltage within that area of the panel, potentially leading to short-circuit.

Internal Corrosion: Usually your panels are installed both air and water tight, but there are some instances where moisture can get into the panel, causing rust (or corrosion). This is usually the result of an ineffective lamination process, causing moisture to seep in. You can usually tell if this is the case because you’ll see darker spots on the panel.

Snail Trails: No, we’re not talking about snails crawling around on your panels. In this sense, a snail trail is where the colour of the panel fades, which only happens generally only after a few years of use. It’s commonly caused by defective silver paste used in the manufacturing process which leads to chemicals being transferred across the panels. Snail trails generally occur close to the edge of the cells, or near micro-cracks.

Potential Induced Degradation: PID is where stray currents create induced performance degradation, leading to accelerated aging and reduction in performance. If your PV panels are older than 3-4 years, you might start to have this problem which can cause up to 30% loss of power.

So how do I tell?
Nothing in the world is problem free, and regardless of how good your solar might be, there is always something that CAN go wrong (that’s not to say it WILL, but it could). If you’ve noticed that you’re not getting as much savings on your electricity bill, or you don’t think you’re getting the energy you should be getting, there could be something wrong.

There are a range of problems that can occur with solar, but if you’re wondering how you can find out if your solar is working at the level it should be, there is one sure way to find out.

Smart Monitors
When you invest in solar, you need to monitor your system.

A Smart Monitor can help to keep track of the amount of energy your system is outputting. Your Monitor keeps track of the solar PV system’s performance (in real time) and also give you important information, such as when you can turn off your hot water to save money and lets you know if there are any faults or alerts you need to be aware of.

If your Monitor is connected to the solar system when it’s installed, this means you can start tracking right away. It connects through the meter board and connects to your computer or phone, providing you with up-to-date information about your solar usage. It can even tell you when your power usage spikes, so you know the peak times in your home.

If the usage and analytics don’t seem to be consistent through your Smart Monitor, it might be time to get your panels checked as there could be a problem.

Source by Tara Tyrrell