5-Fool Proof Methods to Ensure Your Solar Panels are Working

January 14, 2021

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Solar panels are a beneficial means of harvesting the sun’s energy to allow your appliances and technology to use less of the electric grid.  They can enable you to lessen your environmental footprint and, as a result, could save you more money on your energy bills monthly. However, suppose your solar panels are damaged or not working correctly.

In that case, your solar panels may not be giving you the maximum benefit that you deserve.  There could be several reasons why your solar panel isn’t working correctly. Let’s figure out why and lay out the basics so that you know if your solar panels are working.

Reasons for Solar Panels Not Working Include:

  • Cracking – This can make a panel less effective at converting sunlight into energy
  • Loose Wiring – if your solar panel wiring is loose this can directly be impacting production rates
  • Dirty Panels – Another reason your solar panel may not be delivering the efficient results you desire is that the dirt piled upon them over the years is causing them not to work correctly.
  • Faulty Inverter – One final critical reason your solar panel may not be working is that the solar panel inverter isn’t working correctly. These usually don’t last as long as the solar panel’s expected life, which is 20 years and needs to be replaced several times before the solar panel’s life expectancy is up.

Is it Worst Case Scenario or an Easy Fix for Your Solar Panels?

There are so many problems that could arise with solar panels. Still, those mentioned above are usually worst-case scenarios with solar panels.  These problems typically develop due to extreme conditions. For instance, cracks usually develop because of significant changes in weather conditions.  Loose wiring could stem from a variety of things. Having a professional electrician fix the issue will solve the problem.  Dirt and debris can build up over time and need to be cleaned by someone specializing in cleaning solar panels so that they won’t get damaged. Failing invertors is a common mishap with solar panels.  If this happens, you need to get a solar panel expert to replace it.

All of these problems can be a significant setback.  But, did you know that the reasons why your solar panels aren’t working may not have anything to do with these major issues?  Below are five things that you can do to ensure that your panels work before calling in the experts.    

technician for go solar in Florida services

How Do I Know if My Solar Panels are Working?

Our top 5 “fixes” to consider include clearing snow off the panels, getting bird feces removed and trees trimmed near the panels, switching the panels off and on, check your monthly savings, and checking on your inverter.

1. Is bad weather affecting your solar panels?

One of the major drawbacks of solar panels, when they were introduced, is that they only worked well when the sun was shining and the weather was clear.  Rain or cloudy days could decrease the effectiveness of the solar panels.  Nowadays, solar technology is much more advanced. They include concentrators that capture the sun’s energy and still produce electricity even on cloudy or rainy days.  They might not operate at the optimum capacity that they would on a clear, sunny day but they still work well.

The only time weather could interfere with solar panels’ output is if the panels are completely covered in thick snow from heavy snowfall or a blizzard.  This could temporarily disable your solar energy system, but the solar panels will be up and running again as soon as the snow begins to melt. If you are having trouble with your solar generation system, don’t panic, especially if you recently experienced a snowstorm or a blizzard.  When you are able, go outside and check to see if there is snow obstructing them. If so, give it some time for the snow to melt.  Do not attempt to remove the snow yourself.  This could damage the solar panels.  In some cases, if you damage the solar panels while removing the snow, this could negate your warranty on the boards.  Solar panels are installed facing the sun, so the snow will begin to melt off the panels as soon as the sun appears.  Then, your solar generation system should be working again.

2. There’s something blocking or obstructing the panels

If bad weather is not causing problems with your solar energy system, then another major issue could be that something obstructs the sun’s ability to get to them. If you recently experienced a storm, there could be something that blew onto the panels that are now keeping the sun’s energy out.  Another obstruction could be birds.  Yes, birds, particularly pigeons, like solar panels because it is the perfect place to congregate and nest.  It’s also an excellent place for them to take a poop.  Thus, your solar panels may not be working well only because pigeons or other birds are pooping all over them.  You can remedy this by taking a water hose and gentle detergent and simply spraying your roof to remove the poop buildup.  It’s best to remove the poop as soon as possible because if it is allowed to sit too long, especially under the hot sun, it may be harder to remove.

So maybe your obstruction isn’t caused by an apparent random object blocking it or bird droppings.  But there is still an obstruction.  This blockage could be tree branches and limbs that have grown excessively over the years and now casting a shadow over your solar panels. In this case, hiring a tree service to keep your branches and limbs trimmed and pruned may prevent this obstruction and allow for direct light to continue to shine on the panels.

how do i know if my solar panels are working

3. Are your solar panels on?

With so much technology advancing everywhere, you may be overwhelmed by all of this technology.  Don’t fret.  Sometimes the problem may not be as technologically advanced as you think it is. Believe it or not, the old-fashioned on-off button may do the trick.  This may seem too simple, but there is a possibility that you or someone else in your home turned the power off on the solar panels.  Perhaps they needed to clean the bird poop off of the solar panels and turned them off to clean the panels but forgot to turn them back on. The AC inverter, the AC breaker, and the DC switch to your solar PV system are probably off and therefore not delivering energy to your solar grid.  If this is the problem, you should switch all of these back on and begin generating energy again.

4. What does your electric bill look like?

Checking your electric bill may not be the quickest way to know if your solar energy system is working, but it is sure.    If you have solar panels installed, then you should see significant savings on your electric bill.  When your solar energy is working correctly, you should be using less of the electric power grid and more of the solar energy.  The use of solar energy will minimize your electric bill drastically or completely eliminate it.  If you start to see increases on your electric bill or you start to receive electric bills when you hadn’t had any in a long time, this could be a sign that something is wrong with your system.  However, if there is no change with your bills and they are still low or non-existent, then it is a good chance that your solar energy system is working just fine.


5. What’s going on with your inverter?

If you find that none of the things mentioned above are causing trouble for you, then it may be time to check the inverter box. It may not need replacing, but there may be something wrong with it. A solar inverter is where all the magic happens with a solar panel system. It takes the direct current (DC) electricity from the sun and converts it into alternating current (AC) energy that powers the appliances and technology in the home. Usually, a solid green light on the inverter indicates nothing wrong with the inverter, and everything is okay.  However, if your green light is on, but you still aren’t getting any energy into the home, then something may be wrong with the inverter. In this instance, merely flipping off the AC and DC switches for a few seconds and cutting them back on could get things back on track.  Like with any technology, the system may become overwhelmed. Simply turning it off and back on will sometimes fix the system overload.

Tried It ALL? Time to Call a Solar Energy Technician

If you have tried all of these methods and are still having trouble with your solar energy system, it may be time to call in a technician.  Solar technicians should inspect solar panels annually to make sure that they are still working correctly.  If there are more severe issues than these, they will check them and give you a quote.  Some of the problems a technician may find are corrosion, hot spots, roof issues interfering with the panels, damages from pests, snail trails, or severe problems with the inverter box.  To fix any issues that they find, technicians could charge anywhere from the low hundreds to a couple of thousands of dollars.

Although solar power is becoming much more readily available to homeowners, this technology is still relatively new.  This lack of familiarity makes it difficult to know when things go wrong with your solar system.  Instead of panicking and calling out an inspector, which could run you between $100 and $300 just for them to come out and inspect your system, you should try to troubleshoot it first yourself.  Calling out a technician could be pricey if all you had to do is reboot the system, wait for the snow to melt, clean the panels or have a tree service remove the trees blocking the sun’s reception.   Using these methods to ensure that your solar panels are working can save you money and unnecessary stress.

A Word from Our Solar Experts

This information is provided by our experts at Go Solar Florida State. If your solar panels are on the fritz, give our team a call. We are professionals in the solar industry and can problem solve any issue your home solar panels are giving you. Our solar technicians will solve your woes in no time!

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