Any device that converts direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC) is called an inverter. A solar inverter converts DC electricity from the solar panels to AC electricity so that it can be used to power your home. Without an inverter, your home cannot utilise the electricity from your solar panels. This guide contains general information about inverters, common problems, and their solution.
Solar Inverter Not Working
Solar panels can work for 25 years or longer, but solar inverters have shorter lifespans because they are complicated pieces of equipment. The best inverters can last 10-12 years, meaning that in one solar panel’s lifecycle, there’ll be two solar inverters. If you’re suspicious of your solar inverter’s working, check for these signs:
Damage to the inverter’s connection with the solar panel or no connection between them can cause this. The former case needs repairing, while the latter just needs some know-how on connecting the solar panels to the inverter.
Solar Battery Charge:
If your solar battery isn’t charging, your solar inverter isn’t working since solar batteries charge from the AC power supplied by the inverter.
No Lights/Different Lights:
Lights can be red, flashing, yellow, or simply absent. In all of these cases, there is usually something wrong with your inverter.
Error messages are a straightforward way of knowing if something is wrong with your inverter. To fix them, you need to contact a reliable solar technician to find the problem.
Unusually High Power Bill:
Malfunctioned inverters can cause low energy production, pull extra electricity from the grid, and cause high utility bills.
Heating is relatively common since the inverters are typically installed outside, and performing any function is bound to produce energy. However, if an inverter gets too hot, that isn’t normal. Overheating can cause lower electricity production. It may also cause the inverter to stop working. Solar technicians assess your inverter during installation to check the cooling. They check the ventilation of the switch cabinet and the building that houses the inverter.
After the inverter is installed, it’s your job to check on it consistently to ensure the ventilation and efficient working of the cooling system. Overheating can be kept to a minimum by removing obstacles that hinder airflow and cleaning the dust filters.
There is a very low likelihood that your solar technician might not have installed the inverter correctly. The standard process goes like this:
- The solar installer follows the documentation from the inverter’s manufacturer.
- The installer finishes setting up the inverter.
- They perform several tests like remote deactivation and activation, yield test, and reactive power regulation.
This way, problems with the inverter can be detected in the testing stage and fixed immediately.
Inverter Isolation Fault
An isolation fault is a short circuit between different parts of the circuit that trigger an isolation alarm. In this error, the inverter might stop working or have reduced functionality. The following factors can cause this alarm:
- Incorrect installation.
- Damage to the sleeve of the cabling.
- Bad connection with the DC cables of the panel.
This problem is common in coastal areas with high humidity.
Maximum Power Point Tracking Issues
Most inverters employ Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT). This technique significantly enhances the inverter’s performance. It only occurs when the solar array’s photovoltaic (PV) modules are arranged in a series called “strings”.
The power produced depends upon the panels’ positioning, shading, and fault. Different conditions can cause the strings to send different voltages to the inverter simultaneously. MPPT ensures that you have a consistent voltage supply to your system.
This way, power generation from the solar panels will be maximised. The MPPT system can also have faults which ultimately cause issues with the solar string inverters.
If the electricity grid has a fault, this can malfunction your solar power system, which causes your inverter to restart itself. However, sometimes the solar inverter doesn’t restart itself. If this happens, reach out to your solar installer or a service team to manually restart the system. This issue can also be avoided by purchasing a system with high-quality components and a constant monitoring system.
Here are some maintenance tips for your solar inverter:
Solar Monitoring Technology:
Most solar power systems come equipped with smartphone apps that track the status of your inverter and solar panels throughout the day. This way, you know everything is working fine and will be notified immediately if something is wrong.
Air Intake Filter Cleaning:
The air intake filter is bound to get dirty with time. Excess clogging of debris and dust on the filter affects cooling negatively. This ultimately lowers the inverters’ efficiency. You should call a professional to clean the filter if it’s dirty because cleaning might require taking out some parts or equipment.
Check your inverter every once in a while to ensure it’s proper working. This includes checking its screen for error codes or different coloured lights. If something seems wrong, call a professional to help fix the problem.
Keep The Temperature Cool:
Converting electricity from DC to AC warms up the inverter. Keep at least 12 inches of open space around your inverter to ensure adequate airflow. Avoid keeping anything in front of the fan if you have one in your inverter. A malfunctioning fan can cause overheating and decreased efficiency.
Solar Inverter Deterioration
Even if you take care of your solar inverter, it will still deteriorate in performance over time. It may even stop working at one point. If this happens, you can contact an established solar company, your own solar installation company, or the company that made the solar inverter.
The first step should be contacting your solar installation company. They’ll send technicians to investigate and fix the problem. If they can’t fix the inverter, then it will be replaced. If you can’t reach your solar company, try reaching out to the company that made the solar inverter.
They’ll also send a technician to fix the problem. They might also ask a local solar company to send someone to get your inverter replaced or repaired. The last option is contacting your area’s most trusted solar company.
Repairing A Solar Inverter Yourself
It is a very unadvisable decision to fix an inverter yourself. You could worsen the problem or unintentionally harm yourself if you don’t know much about this complicated technology. Fixing the inverter yourself voids any service or maintenance agreement for your entire solar system.
If you aren’t a licensed solar technician and doing the repairs yourself, you could face penalties from your utility company and other government entities. The easy way is to call professionals if you have a problem with your solar power system or inverter.