Annual PV System Maintenance

August 20, 2018

One of the main benefits of Solar PV systems is that they do not require large amounts of maintenance.

Main Components

The solar energy systems has two major components; the installed solar modules and the inverter(s). The solar modules and mounting systems are exposed to the elements of the climate with wind exerting pressure on the mechanical integrity of the PV system, and the rain, snow, and other climate effects

impacting both the module’s electrical string connections and the roof seals under the mounting system.

If you have your local solar installation specialist(who is often the original installer) service your system then they will check through the different mechanical and electrical systems that will effect warranty and performance of the system.  Just like an automobile, its important that the owner and or user keep a close eye on the system and quickly consult with a professional if there are any abnormalities with the PV System.  If you decide you want to do some of the checks and maintenance yourself, you can, just make sure you take all the necessary precautions for safety.  Working at height and with electrical equipment can easily cause injury or death and if your not sure always consult with your local professional.

While the system owner can carry out some of the following annual system maintenance checks, we recommend the following be performed by a suitably qualified person each year.

System Monitoring

  • perform a general check of performance over the year by referring to the available automated monitoring data or on-site records.
  • Check and make sure if your using WiFi connectivity that the components are all still well within range and operating properly

Solar Module

  • Check the MC4 connectors are snug and there is no sign of damage
  • clean modules to retain optimum performance
  • visually inspect for any damage to the modules – fractures, browning, moisture penetration or frame corrosion
  • check conduits and all cabling are protected and secure
  • check voltage of each string is within the manufacturer’s tolerances – tools like n IV curve tracers are a great tool for this
  • check earth connection for continuity
  • if accessible, inspect junction boxes for tightness of connections, water accumulation/build-up, integrity of lid seals, integrity of cable entrance, glands and/or conduit sealing, integrity of clamping devices and, if external, verify bypass diodes.

Junction Boxes

  • check the tightness of connections, water accumulation/build-up, integrity of lid seals, integrity of cable entrance and/or conduit sealing, and integrity of clamping devices
  • if applicable, check blocking diodes and surge arrestors for degradation
  • check connections for tightness of connection and corrosion

Fuse Boxes

  • visually inspect fuse boxes for any damage or water ingress
  • check fuses and connections for resistive joints

DC and AC Breakers and Isolators

  • visually inspect breakers/isolators for any damage
  • check breaker and connections for resistive joints
  • measure open circuit voltages and short circuit currents, and
  • verify the operation of isolation devices.

Inverters

  • visually inspect inverters for any damage
  • check connections for resistive joints
  • check the DC voltage applied to inverter input
  • ensure that there is free space around the units for cooling purposes
  • if the inverter has monitoring check the monthly/yearly output or any discrepancies
  • check the error log for any errors that might have accumulated

Mounting Systems

  • check the alignment and rigidity of the framing system
  • check for loose fittings such as mid and end clamps
  • Inspect the grounding conductors and make sure there is continuity

Longer term inspection – the 5 year check

Every five years, the mechanical integrity of conduits and cables installed without conduit should be confirmed, and the framing/mounting system should be inspected for corrosion.

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