Solar Panel Operations and Maintenance
Solar panels can be extremely useful for anybody looking to improve on and use renewable energy sources. At DMS Installers we have a guide on our solar panel operations and maintenance.
- Solar PV Array solar panels convert sunlight into electricity due to a semiconductor material that each panel contains. The amount of electricity that the panels can produce is dependent on the amount of sunlight that contacts with them. Therefore, solar panels do not produce electricity at night and will produce less electricity on cloudy days.
- Inverter the inverter(s) convert the Direct Current (DC) from the Solar PV Panel Array into Alternating Current. This allows the Alternating Current being created by the Solar Panels to be integrated with the electrical supply of the property, by meeting the specifications of the National Grid.
- Total Generation Meter the current being created by the Inverter then passes through the Total Generation Meter, which then records the amount of energy being created in kilowatt hours (kWh). The system is then connected directly to the electrical distribution system of the property.
Remember that inverters will switch themselves off, at night and when there are low levels of sunlight, in order to save power. During daylight hours the followed should be observed to indicate that the system is functioning correctly:
- Voltage is displayed on the screen of the Inverter
- The Inverter is connected to the grid this is indicated by a light on the front cover
- The Total Generation Meter should indicate the total number of kWhs that are being generated
Turning the System On
- Connect the DC isolator (switch to ON position)
- Connect the AC isolator (switch to ON position)
- Connect to the main supply using the mains isolator and the circuits on the distribution board (MCBs)
- Observe the inverter to make sure the system connects to the grid and is producing power (Please note that it will take several minutes to connect to the National Grid)
System Failure Checklist
If any problems with the system arise please check the following list below in numerical order before contacting DMS Installations Ltd for technical support:
- Is there power at your power?
- Are all the circuits of your Micro Circuit Breaker (MCB) switched to on position?
- Is the DC isolator switched to the on position?
- Is there daylight outside?
- Check to make sure there no debris covering up the solar modules (panels)
- If you observed any damage has been done to any component of the system, switch the system off and contact DMS Installed Ltd
Steps to Switch the System Off
Complete the steps below in numerical order:
- Isolate the main supply to the system using the MCB
- Isolate the Inverter from the grid using the AC Isolator (switch to OFF position)
- Isolate the Solar Panel Array using the DC Isolator (switch to OFF position)
- Allow several minutes for the capacitors located in the inverters to discharge remaining electrical current
Isolating the Solar Panels
Solar panels are constantly producing voltage during daylight hours even if they are disconnected from the National Grid. Although solar panels do not produce any power at night there still may be voltage on the DC output. Please take great care in ensuring that the ON/OFF procedures are followed correctly to avoid harm to yourself and/or damage to the electrical system. Special should be taken to avoid any connect with the DC output at all times.
First check to see what components of your system are still under warranty. A time frame for a warranty on workmanship relating to installation would have been agreed upon before commencement of works. All replacement and repair works needing completed (to any part of the system) should only be carried out by a qualified PV engineer.
Servicing and Maintenance of the Solar PV System
Photovoltaic systems have no moving parts and thus require little to no maintenance. Due to the electrical current these systems must always be handled with caution. The power output is the only component that should be checked regularly to ensure the system if functioning properly. The solar panels themselves will only ever need replaced if they become damaged or are defective. Again this should only be completed by a trained professional due to the involvement of electricity. In order to ensure your system maintains its performance it is important the solar modules be kept clear of debris (i.e. leaves, roof tiles, bird droppings, etc). Make it a habit of regularly checking that the panels are kept clear as this will affect the amount of electricity they are able to create. If your system does not have a way of automatically recording the amount of energy being created, monthly meter readings should be scheduled to keep an eye on the systems performance. This would also be an ideal time to check the entire system is running properly and that none of the components have become damaged due to weather or wildlife. If at any time you believe your system is malfunctioning, shut down immediately following the correct procedure and contact DMS Installations Ltd for assistance.
Safe Disposal of System
Solar Panels should not be disposed of with normal waste as traditional methods such as burning or being placed in a landfill will cause harm to the environment. The system should be returned to the manufacturer or a disposal agent that has been deemed safe.
Considerations for future building works
Here are some helpful points to consider if any building works are being carried out and could affect your Solar Panel Array:
- Dust from construction may affect the performance of your panels, possibly even damage them, ensure the necessary steps are taken to protect them (i.e. covers)
- New buildings have the potential of casting shade onto the solar modules which will affect the performance of the system
- Ensure contractors are made aware of the Solar PV system before any works are begun
If you are experiencing any problems with your system please contact DMS Installations Ltd 0141 638 1058.