Troubleshooting is a form of problem solving, often applied to repair failed products or processes. It is a logical, systematic search for the source of a problem so that it can be solved, and so the product or process can be made operational again.
If your system is not working, we suggest you take the following steps:
- Check the output of the system on the inverter for at least one or two days to see if there is definitely no solar generation.
- Check if the solar circuit breaker has tripped. Turn it back on at night. If the next day it has tripped again, then this indicates a potentially serious fault.
- Call your original system supplier / installer and ask them to come out and check the system (remember there can be a call out fee if your fault is not based on a warranty claim - check with the company before they send somebody).
- Find your original paper work as you might wish to make a warranty claim.
- Unfortunately with many cheap systems, the original inverter or panel suppliers might not be in business anymore, as there was a wide range of solar companies installing very cheap solar systems from 2008 to 2013, with long warranties, but when systems started to fail, companies went into liquidation and consumers now hold warranties with little real value. In 2012 for example over 150 solar related companies went into liquidation in Australia.
- If you have purchased LG solar panels contact your authorized LG dealer or in Australia call LG’s Customer Care Centre on ph 1300 542 273, 7 Days, 7am - 7pm or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. While the customer care centre is not manned by solar experts, the centre staff will take your contact details, your issue and within 48 hours have appropriate LG authorized solar dealers contact you to ascertain the issue for a speedy solution. In NZ please call 0800 542 273, 7 Days, 9am - 9pm. Email: email@example.com
- If you have not purchased LG panels and you cannot contact your original solar system installer then call a local solar company. Many cheap inverters or panels when they fail cannot easily be repaired and require complete replacement.
If you think your solar PV system is not working, you may become aware– through a higher than expected electricity bill, through information from a monitoring system or simply by your inverter staying permanently switched off.
If the inverter is switched off permanently then you need to call the original solar installation company and ask for a site visit to ascertain the issue. Make sure you agree on call out fees etc. before the installer shows up.
In cases, where the system is working ,but you feel maybe not to its full potential an assessment of how much energy you generated and consumed over the billing period is the first place to start. This can be found on your electricity bill. Is the bill much higher without you are having changed your consumption pattern? You solar power system supplier should have provided you with estimates of how much energy you will generate and the first step is to compare the predictions with what your electricity bill, or inverter monitoring system says.
If your inverter monitor shows that your system is generating close to what was predicted, then the issue could be to do with a change in the time or the rate of electricity you are being charged. You should discuss the matter with your electricity retailer. Compare your latest electricity bill with some of the bills from previous quarters or even with the bill from 12 month ago.
If you are generating less than what was predicted, your inverter monitoring system may be able to assist you by describing any faults or errors. Almost all inverters have red and green indicator lights indicating whether they are functioning well, which you can check on a typical sunny day as a good starting point.
Sometimes a tree not too far from your system has grown a new shoot and now starts to overshadow your solar system. So check what has changed near your solar system. Any new objects which cause overshadowing?
Beyond this and in the case of an error or fault, you should immediately contact your original solar system supplier. This is where the terms and conditions of your offer and choosing a great supplier can make a difference; some suppliers may charge you for call out’s and others may provide free support.
In all cases it is important to remember that solar systems are producing high voltage of electricity. Do never attempt to fix any problem yourself. Please use a professional solar installer.
Quality solar systems are very reliable and should offer years of trouble free operations. Nevertheless, sometimes things can go wrong. The inverter of your solar system has indication lights and via the display panel shows how much electricity your system has generated on this day so far, as well as how much it is generating right now. Read the inverter manual to check the display options. If the inverter is dead, has no lights or display then it is likely that your solar power system has shut down for safety reasons or light levels are below operating levels, eg very early in the morning.
If the inverter seems to be turned off please also check your power meter. Usually you can see if solar is exported then and there, via the electricity meter. Some new digital types for example have a small arrow in the display. If you import electricity it points towards the house (right) , if you export solar electricity it points away from the house (left).
Finally, your electricity bill will give you an indication if your solar system is working satisfactorily. For example compare last years solar power export number with this years solar export info. If your exported kW/h have significantly come down then either you are using more solar power the home, or you solar system is not performing ideally.
Ask your solar installer to show you how to read the inverter monitoring screen.
Much like shading from other obstructions, anything, including dirt, bird droppings or leaves will reduce your output as it is not letting the sunshine through to the panel in that spot and will affect the efficiency of your solar power system.
The difference in clean and dusty/dirty panels in output electricity generation can be about 5%. Heavy rain can clean panels regularly cleaning will assist in maximising the solar output.
Caution: We do not recommend that house owners get on the roof and perform solar panel cleaning themselves but have the cleaning undertaken after a few years by a solar company.
In general it is recommended that solar panels be cleaned with water and not with anything abrasive. If you are near a high traffic area or there is an accumulation of dust due to the geographical location or construction activity, or lack of rain – regular cleaning after approximately 12 months may be required.
Some solar installers offer maintenance services where they come and check the electrical connections and clean the solar panels on a periodic basis.
It is good idea to negotiate a good price for follow up inspections in years to come for your solar system at the time you purchase it.
There can be a number of reasons why your system is producing low output. Some of them are:
- The panels are not installed in the correct orientation to capture the sun.
- The panels are shaded by trees or other items during a part of the day.
- The panels have a lot of bird dropping / leaves / dirt on them which is reducing the efficiency of the system.
- The inverter is defective.
In all these and other cases of malfunction call your original installer and get your system checked.
In a blackout the grid connected solar power system will automatically shut down and will cease generating solar power. This is required by law as the lines men working on the grid could be seriously injured if the solar power system would still produce 230V AC.
The solar power system will automatically reboot when it senses the grid connection is back. In a battery backed solar power system, the batteries will power your home till the grid connect comes back or the batteries run out of power.
Solar power systems are generally maintenance free. As a general rule, solar power modules installed at greater than 10 degrees angle will tend to self-clean with average rainfall in Australia, so little maintenance is required. For optimum performance we do recommended to keep you panels clean and therefore negotiate with your installer a regular inspection and cleaning regime - say every 12, 18 or 24 month.
In case of a LG solar panel malfunction in nearly all instances we do not suggest that the panel be repaired. As our LG solar panels are fully sealed units, repairs are often not possible. In the case of panel defect/malfunction a complete replacement is often recommended Ask your LG solar installer for an assessment and advice.
Like any product or a system, the solar system can develop a defect. The defect can come in the inverter, panel or the electrical installation. Traditionally nearly 80% of system failures or automatic shut downs are related to inverter issues. That's why we recommend to pair our quality LG panels with a high quality, top of the range inverters.
There are safeguards built into the inverters and electrical systems. If you feel that the system is not performing well or has stopped working, you should get in touch with your original installer or call a certified solar tradesman to inspect the system. Do not attempt to fix the system yourself by turning switches and buttons on and off. If the solar power system has shut down a serious defect could have occurred. You are dealing with high voltage electricity, a field safely left to the experts. Call your local solar dealer.
Most of the insurance companies cover the solar power system installed on the roof of the insured home. The solar electric system is considered to be part of your building.
However, please note different insurance companies have different rules. We suggest you call your home and content insurance either before or after you installed the solar power system and inform them that you now have a solar power system. In many cases premiums do not change or change only very slightly. Please call your insurance to confirm your particular circumstances.
It is possible that your solar system is working well. Your electricity from your solar power system is first fed into your house and then your meter only captures the excess that is not used in your home and exported to the power grid (electricity lines).
So your 4kW system for example generated 1500kW/h in three months (as shown by the inverter monitoring /reading), but your Net meter shows only 300kW/h sent back to the grid. For each kW/h you get 8cents so your solar income will be $24. That relative small amount shows up as a credit on your bill. But don't forget the 1200kW/h your system generated and you used in the house. You saved to purchase this electricity from the electricity provider. Let’s say if you are on a flat electricity charge of 35c per kW/h you will have saved $420, which you would have paid if you would not had your solar power system. So your total solar system electricity for that quarter is worth $420 + $24 = $444, eventhough your bill only showed a $24 income.
Please see our Solar Savings Calculator to check the value of the electricity your system is likely to generate.
The amount of electricity being generated is directly related to the amount of sunlight shining on to your home solar system. The more your solar modules are covered in shade, the less electricity your system will generate.
Even a single antenna or a chimney shadow on your panels can affect performance and electricity output. Depending where you reside in some areas of Australia such as the Blue Mountains near Sydney over 10% of homes are less suitable for solar due to tree coverage close to the home.
The new technology of micro-inverters on each panel instead of one large string inverter can help with shadow issues as the losses associated with shade can be reduced by as much as 25% with each individual panel being managed to achieve maximum electricity output. Talk to your LG dealer if your shadow issue is a serious one and check if power optimisers or micro-inverters are a potential solution for you.
In the simplest of terms, solar panels need to be in the sun to generate electricity so any shading will reduce their output. Although some shading does not rule out the use of solar power, the effects can be significant and we recommend that you request that the solar power system installer undertake a shading analysis before you buy if the area where you intend installing the solar panels is affected by shading. You should also bear in mind that the impact of shading varies by season too, as shadows get longer and can affect larger areas in the winter months.
Minor effects such as shading in the early morning or late afternoon have a much smaller impact. However, large trees, chimneys or neighboring buildings can have a very significant impact and should be carefully analyzed to ensure that an accurate assessment is made.
It is also important to understand that because of the way most solar systems are connected together, shading on (for example) one or two solar panels can impact on the output of your entire system.
Micro inverters can assist in creating the best possible output in shading situations ,as each panel is delivering the highest possible output. String inverters on the other hand will be limited in output by the lowest output panel.
A good solar installer will be able to provide a shading analysis using a variety of tools. The installer will be able to provide an accurate assessment of whether shading will have a minor or a major impact on your systems generation capacity, and if a string inverter or micro inverters are the best solution.
Your grid-connected solar power systems must by law shut down if the grid loses power. The reason is that linesmen repairing faulty electricity wires must be able to do so safely, without any solar power travelling back into the grid during maintenance and repair. Your electricity if fed back into the line could create a danger to the service personnel. Therefore when there is a black out you will also be without power. Your solar power system will automatically turn on during daylight hours when the power comes back to the grid.
However, if you have a battery backup system connected to your solar system, then depending on the wiring, some internal services like the fridge could still be operated by the batteries. In the next few years smaller size energy storage systems will become available, as many solar system owners prefer to store the electricity the generate and use it during rainy days or at night, rather than sell it to the energy retailers.