The solar inverter is a crucial component of solar equipment that converts Direct Current (DC) to Alternating Current (AC), which is suitable for household appliances.
When there are problems with a solar power system, customers may rely on a regular power grid supply without even realizing it. This can spike power bills significantly and leave them scrambling to find and fix the root cause of the solar plant problem.
This post will share tips on what could be wrong when a solar inverter stops working and a sort of troubleshooting checklist you can use. And we’ll also suggest some steps to ensure the solar systems are optimally maintained and functioning as needed.
Why Would a Solar Power Inverter Break Down or Stop Working?
Solar inverter troubleshooting can be tricky. While solar panels are very durable and built to last for 20 to 25 years, the solar inverter needs replacement probably once every 10 or 12 years. It’s also a bit more complicated to maintain and needs more oversight and inspections. So what are some tell-tale signs that something could be wrong with the solar inverter? Here are just a few symptoms to watch out for:
- Is it disconnected – When you check the inverter, and it seems that it is not connected, it could be that the inverter has issues and needs an inspection. Damaged connections also indicate that the inverter may require repairs and maintenance.
- Red flag on the screen – Inverters may show specific error messages when some component or system is not working correctly. This could be a direct warning sign. You may also spot such an issue because the inverter lights are not on.
- Spiking Utility Bills – If there is an unexpected hike in the electricity bills, it’s best to check the inverter. If it’s not functioning optimally, it may generate a small than the required power, and the home may be drawing more power from the grid than planned.
- Battery Charging – If the solar batteries rely on the power from the inverter and are not charging fully, it’s another symptom of an inverter defect to look into.
So what are some of the reasons inverters stop functioning correctly? Let’s examine a few:
Faulty Solar Inverter Installation
Installation is a critical process. It not only determines whether the solar inverter will perform well or have numerous problems but also helps technicians spot issues, if any, for immediate attention. For instance, it’s common practice to conduct tests like remote deactivation, yield tests, remote activation, etc., during installation. If these tests are not conducted, it can lead to performance gaps later. Installation must be done by manufacturer-prescribed protocols and SOPs. Physical setup, connecting the system correctly, and ensuring the programming is done right helps ensure proper installation.
Overheating Solar Inverter
One common reason people have to call in technicians from the inverter service center is damage caused by overheating. Inverters tend to overheat when there is improper ventilation and poor cooling technology in the system. How do these conditions occur? Inadequate ventilation could cause the inverter to overheat if the building has poor ventilation. It could also be caused when the machine is clogged with dust and impeded airflow. Cleaning the air filter may be necessary to ensure proper ventilation. And the cooling system in the inverter must be optimally functioning; usually, during installation and regular inspections, this is one item checked to ensure overheating does not happen.
Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) Issues
Photovoltaic (PV) modules are configured in series called strings connected to the inverter, and these can often send varying voltage levels to the inverter. An MPPT system helps track these variances and optimizes the power to yield the most balanced and ideal voltage level. When this malfunctions, it can damage the inverter.
Inverter Isolation Fault
Excessive moisture, faulty installation, damage to the cabling sleeves, or faulty connections of DC cables to the panel can cause an inverter isolation fault. It’s a short circuit that can entirely cause the inverter to shut down or perform at a much lower efficiency.
Solar Power Inverter Restarting Issues
Usually, inverters restart after a solar power system problem or power grid issue, which can affect the solar system. However, if the inverter doesn’t restart by itself, it may be necessary to get the system up again manually.
Upkeeping a solar inverter is vital for it to function as expected. Here are some suggestions owners can follow:
- Keep the Inverter cool by ensuring the fan, ventilation system, or other cooling technology is up to speed and working correctly.
- Keep the air intake filter clean to ensure there is no clogging, preventing the free flow of air and preventing moisture from building up internally.
- Check for Error Codes or changes in the inverter lights; these could be signs that something is amiss and needs attention.
- Use Solar Monitoring Technology whenever available from your solar equipment supply company. Whether they are apps or alert systems of any kind, they can help monitor performance and spot issues before they escalate.
What Should Customers do If their Solar Inverter Stops Working?
When the inverter malfunctions, solar plant owners can contact their Solar Installation Company since it’s most likely that they can diagnose and fix whatever issues crop up. They have the technical wherewithal to handle these repairs using the proper SOPs and manuals.
Customers also sometimes contact the company that made the Solar Inverter when they cannot reach or get reliable help from the solar installation firm.
They may also reach out to any established and trusted Solar Company if they are not getting the proper support from the solar manufacturing firm. Many solar companies have multi-brand expertise and can help.
Fielda – Reliable Renewable energy inspection software
Solar plant servicing jobs involve inspections, general service, and repair and replacement work for solar inverters, panels, PVs, etc. Fielda helps solar power servicing companies plan, schedule, and manage inspections and maintenance work. Fielda’s highly customizable checklists give inspectors and technicians the flexibility to modify data gathering forms as they need depending on the components and sub-systems they are managing. Through the custom workflow feature, companies can effectively collaborate, share silo data, review status, and monitor tasks through the entire process. And real-time reports give operations managers the insights they need to make informed day-to-day decisions.