How to increase solar panel efficiency

Posted in Saving with solar

Solar Panels - DC Power Co

Six ways to improve solar production

We all want lower electricity bills and if you’ve got solar, you’ve already taken the first step to achieve this. Well done – solar is a great way to lower your electricity bills… if it’s working.

The Clean Energy Regulator found almost 20% of rooftop solar systems weren’t functioning properly, and many Australians are missing out on lower bills. So, how will you know if your solar’s not working?

Here at DC Power Co, we monitor our customers’ solar production and let them know if their solar system ever stops exporting electricity to the grid with our Solar Alert, so they don’t miss out on their solar savings. 

If you’re not a DC Power Co customer, the best way to check your solar system’s performance might be to simply wait for your next electricity bill and take note of the solar feed-in.

If the feed-in numbers look normal, your system should be working well.

If the feed-in is close to zero though, there’s something wrong.


If your solar’s not working

If your solar system stops working, it could a problem with the inverter. Think of the inverter as the heart of the system. It works hard all day – converting the DC power generated by your solar system to AC power which we use in our homes – so is the part of your solar system which is most likely to fail within your solar system’s first 10 years.

Head outside and have a look at your inverter. It’s best to do this during the day when your solar is operating (if you’ve just had your system installed, make sure your inverter and AC isolator are turned ON).

Can you see a warning light or error code on the display? If so, there might be something wrong with your inverter. If this is the case you may need to call in an expert, but before you do you can try resetting your inverter yourself.

Most importantly though, please do not try to fix your inverter yourself. It’s a live electrical system and can be really dangerous. Always leave this work to an accredited expert. If you’re at all unsure, please contact a licensed electrician.


Reset your inverter

Please refer to your user manual to reset your inverter as all systems are slightly different, however below are some general instructions to help you.

  1. Ensure the Solar Supply Main Switch on your switchboard is turned OFF.
  2. Turn the AC switch(es) on your inverter OFF.
  3. Wait 30 seconds, then turn the DC switch(es) OFF.
  4. Once the inverter has powered down, turn the Solar Supply Main switch on your switchboard back ON.
  5. Go back to your inverter and turn the AC switch(es) ON.
  6. Turn the DC switch(es) ON.

Once you’ve reset your inverter, you should see the e-total value start climbing. If not, it seems there’s still something wrong.

To simplify things, DC Power Co customers could also check their DC Power Co app to see if their solar system is exporting electricity again.


Is the switchboard on?

Your switchboard needs to be on for your solar electricity to export to the grid. If your house is being renovated or you’ve recently had some electrical work done, the electrician may have turned off your switchboard.

Go to your switchboard and check that the Solar Supply Main Switch is ON. If not, you may want to speak to your solar installer or electrician as to why it may be off (but again, please do not try and fix it yourself).

If you’re at all unsure, please contact a licensed electrician.


Call in an expert

Still no luck? Get in touch with your original solar installer. If you don’t have their details, you can find a Clean Energy Council Accredited installer on the CEC website. Inverters tend to come with a 5+ year warranty so it’s worth checking if yours is still covered.


If your solar is working

So your solar system is up and running? Well done! Now it’s time to make sure you’re getting the most out of it, so let’s look at how to increase solar panel efficiency. 


Make sure there’s no shade hitting your panels

Check your panels in the morning and again in the evening to make sure they’re not being shaded. Just 5% shading can result in more than a 50% reduction in system performance.

Sometimes it’s hard to avoid shading issues however, if you find that your panels are shaded by nearby trees it might be worth cutting them back. Make sure you don’t cut your neighbour’s trees without their permission though!

If you find that your solar panels are being shaded by power lines or nearby buildings, you could consider contacting your solar installer to see if you can move the panels into full sun.


Do your solar panels need to be cleaned?

Cleaning Solar Icon

Solar panels are generally self-cleaning, however dust, oils and even bird poo can build up and affect solar production. In particular, this can be an issue for panels that are on less of an angle.

It’s not likely to have a major impact in the short term, but build-up over time could reduce the effectiveness of the solar panel so it might be worth cleaning them with a soft sponge.

If you don’t feel confident about getting up on the roof, don’t. Instead, you could try spraying them with a hose from the ground or you might choose to pay someone to get up on the roof and do it for you.


Consider an upgrade to increase solar production

How long ago did you install your solar panels? If your system is getting old, or you originally bought a cheaper system, you might benefit from an upgrade.

Get in touch with our solar experts to discuss the potential benefits of an upgrade and get a quote for a new system. Weigh up the costs involved to work out if the potential savings are worth the price of the upgrade.

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