Is my solar working?

solar flag photo.png

Since today is election day, this post should engage, “Is my democracy working,” versus concentrating on the vitality of solar systems. Late tonight we’ll (hopefully) get an answer to the former; today we will concentrate on the latter.

We field a handful of calls each month from owners of existing solar systems, posing a simple question: I’m not sure if my solar system is working; can you help? For the 200+ Repower homeowners — and thanks to real-time solar system monitoring — we keep an eye on their systems. Twice each week, we: 1. Check to ensure the system is operating; and, 2. Gauge each system’s electricity generation vis-a-vis National Renewable Energy Lab projections. 

Two quick observations about Repower solar systems: We have yet to have a solar panel fail (out of 11,000+), and the median system is generating 4.6% more energy than we modeled. To the former, it’s what homeowners should expect: Solar panels are tested by the manufacturer and prior to when they’re installed; they have no moving parts; and, if they work day one, they should not fail. Solar systems simply work.

That said, the calls we receive are from homeowners who had their systems installed by another solar company. Oftentimes, a new homeowner adopts a solar system (with their purchase of the home) and has no idea when it was installed, which panels and inverters were employed, who installed it, and how it’s doing. They simply know they have a solar system and want to understand how its doing.

To wit, two approaches:

  1. Contract the solar installation contractor and engage them to diagnose your system’s performance. (Apologies for being terse!)

  2. If you do not know who installed the system (or, if the solar company is no longer in business), contact us and we will assess your system (at no cost). For our initial diagnosis, the following vitals will propel our assessment:

- System specifications (installation date, solar panel model and quantity, inverter type).

- PG&E net-metering data (we will share how to obtain).

- A few photographs/screen shots of your inverter’s screen.

With the above, we can determine if your solar system is performing as it should.

Finally, a quick binary check (to check your solar sanity :) : Green is good, yellow or red is bad. If your inverter’s light is green (during the day), that means it’s generating power; if it’s yellow or red, the inverter (most likely) has faulted.

Feel free to stop by our workspace or contact us with questions. Like democracies, solar should work for you.