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Solar Power System Repairs

Updated: February 2020. If your original solar installer and or their warranty providers are no longer trading and your solar PV system isn't working, underperforming, has developed a fault or needs to be moved, refurbished, changed, decommissioned (permenantly or temporarily) then we can help.

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Established in May 2007, we are one of the longest serving and most experienced renewable energy companies around, we've carried out all sorts of repairs involving most types and size of solar PV system, we will be happy to help get your system back up and running.

Below we describe some common situations and faults and how they are resolved:

Are my solar panels working?

How do I know if my solar panels are working?

There are a couple of non technical ways to find out if your solar panels are working:

  • At your inverter: Your inverter sits at the heart of the system and is the piece of equipment that converts the DC power generated by the solar panels into AC power for use in your home and export to the grid. The vast majority of inverters have LCD displays on the front which will show the status of the system. If the solar panels are working and your inverter has a display, it will likely show you here. Common measurements that are displayed are 1) The DC voltage from the panels 2) The Current measured in Amps from the panels 3) The overall power measured in Watts being generated by the panels. 4) Often the mains voltage will also be measured and shown on the display. Inverters are usually around the size of a small TV or a microwave oven (there are pictures of inverters further down this page), if you can't find the inverter in the house, these are often installed in loft spaces and adjoining garages.

  • At your generation meter: The generation meter is a small piece of equipment (picture further down this page) that counts the solar power that is being generated. Common places for these to be installed are 1) Near to your consumer unit/fuse box 2) Near your mains power meter (which can sometimes be outside in a box on the side of the house) 3) In the loft space, if this is where the rest of your solar equipment has been installed. If your solar panels are working, this meter will count the power that they generate, this power is measured in kWhrs and you will see the numbers increase on the display.

Inverters and Generation meters aren't always installed in convenient locations. The good news is that if you would like to keep a closer eye on what your solar PV system is doing but don't want to move everything, this can often easily and cost effectively be achieved by either installing a comms device into the inverter which will then provide data to your laptop/PC/smartphone via a network cable, GPRS or wireless. There are also devices that can take readings from the generation meter, and devices that can take readings directly from the power cables using sensors. The results such as overall and current power production can then be displayed on your smartphone, laptop, tablet or PC or a handheld or wall mounted display.

Repair SMA Inverter

 

 

Repair Power One Aurora Inverter

Solar Inverter Faults and Warnings:

The inverter is the most intelligent and hard working part of most solar PV systems and can stop working due to the presence of any number of faults. These could be faults within the inverter itself or as a result of the inverter safely shutting itself down after identifying a discrepancy elsewhere in the system such as from the solar panels, the mains or in the integrity of the wiring.

If the display on the inverter (assuming it has one) is still functioning, then the first place to look for a clue as to why the system isn't working correctly can be found by looking on the inverter's display and noting any warnings and or fault codes and then looking up these fault codes:

Please feel free to call us if you'd like help in identifying your inverter's make or model number, if there is no display visible, for assistance with locating manuals and or in understanding what any fault codes mean.

Solar PV System Restart

Temporary Solar Inverter Faults: Safe Shutdown and Restart

The vast majority of Solar PV Systems installed in the UK (and nearly all of those associated with a Feed in Tariff) will have been installed in such a way that would allow the owner/operator to safely Shutdown and Restart the solar power system without an engineers assistance.

Instructions should be displayed on-site outlining how to do so, often placed either near the inverter or near the consumer unit, sometimes these instructions can be found in the paperwork provided with the solar PV system. If after assessing the situation, it's appropriate and you feel confident that you can do so safely, shutting down and restarting the system is often all that's needed to clear temporary inverter faults.

 

Solar Inverter Identified Faults

Sometimes inverters shut themselves down as a safety measure after identifying a fault or finding itself in what it assesses to be an unsafe condition to operate in. This could be anything to do with the power system including integrating with the mains power network (the grid), the earthing system, batteries (if connected), related to the solar panels or if when tested, no fault condition exists, a faulty inverter. Working with fault codes and the manuals will often give us a clue as to what to look for but faults like these if they persist will often require an engineer's site visit to diagnose and fix.

Solar PV Earth Faults

Solar Ground Faults, Earth Faults, Isolation Faults, ISO and Riso Faults

These errors are picked up by inverters or through testing when during normal operation of an inverter, a leakage current to ground/earth is detected on the DC side of the system, although it is also possible that the inverter generates an alarm message due to AC leakage currents connected to the capacitive nature of the photovoltaic generator compared to ground/earth. For as long as the situation persits then the inverter will not startup. Earth / Ground Faults (also called Iso or Isolation Faults) often present themselves when it is raining or at times of high humidity when moisture can enter the system. These faults often clear when conditions improve but they will not get better by themselves, potentially becoming more dangerous over time. If your inverter picks up these faults we would advise that you book an engineers visit in order to carry out a full system test, identify the source and rectify the fault as soon as possible.

Solar Panels Trip RCD

Solar Panels Trip RCD, Nuisuance RCD tripping, RCD trips at solar system startup, RCD trips when it's raining and the solar PV system gets wet

This situation can come about from a number of different possible faults, as well as from errors made during the initial installation. Often this fault presents itself a number of years after the system was initially installed. So what's going on? There are a few possibilities:

  • There is a genuine fault to earth, either from the DC side of the solar PV system including the panels, cables, connectors and any junction boxes, from the inverter or from the supply cable to the inverter that is finding it's way back to the RCD and causing it to trip.
  • There is a minor fault somewhere else on the main electrical system that in combination with the sometimes expected capacitive discharge current from the panels (enhanced in wet conditions) going to earth that in combination are enough to cause a shared or sensitive RCD to trip.
  • There is a problem with the incoming mains supply that is causing the RCD to trip.
  • The RCD is faulty or of a low quality i.e. tripping at a value much lower than their rating.

The solution will be found after a complete test and inspection of the whole solar PV and electrical system has been carried out. Problem DC cabling and connectors that have corroded are quite a common reason for RCDs to trip like this (particularly when wet), ageing inverters and sensitive RCDs that protect both the house circuits and the PV supply cable are also common causes for this fault.

Solar Inverter Relay Faults

Solar Inverter Relay Faults

Relays are electronic switches that control the flow of power from the solar PV system into your local power system and the mains, they are either open or closed. Relays will not allow power through until the inverter deems it safe to do so. If a relay or series of relays is damaged or faulty the inverter won't be able to connect to the electrical system.

You may have heard your inverter 'clicking' when the sun comes up in the morning and the solar PV system turns on. If you have noticed this, then what you would have been hearing is these relays. Given that these relays open and close daily, relay faults are a reasonably common inverter fault. Unfortunately this often means that a replacement inverter will need to be installed to get the system working again.

 

Solar Inverter Warranties:

If a fault is found to be within the inverter, most solar PV inverters are provided with a 5 year manufacturers warranty, occasionally longer and sometimes extended. The good news is that even if your original installer is no longer trading, your inverter hardware if purchased within the last 5 years or within it's manufacturer's warranty period, assuming that the manufacturer is still trading, is still likely to be covered by this warranty.

Warranty Claims: Some manufacturers use their own engineers to service warranty claims, some will ask clients to arrange for the testing of the unit to prove the fault and arrange for the return. We can provide as much or as little help as is needed in order to process a manufacturer warranty claim and will be happy to carry out any testing or commissioning work that might be needed.

Out of Warranty Inverter Failures: If the inverter has failed and it is out of it's manufacturer's warranty period then it will either need to be replaced or repaired. We can help with either option and will provide all the information we can to help you decide the best way to proceed.

Solar PV Generation Meter

Solar Generation Meter Not Working

No Display: If the display of the solar generation meter has stopped working than either 1) The generation meter is broken and will need to be replaced 2) There is no power getting to the unit.

Display Works but Doesn't Count: If the display works but doesn't count than either 1) The generation meter is broken and will need to be replaced 2) There is no power getting to the unit to be counted being provided from the solar system.

Generation meter replacements are a relatively inexpensive and common repair but sometimes what appears to be a faulty generation meter can be an indication of faulty or damaged wiring elsewhere. In either case we would provide an engineer to fully inspect and test both the AC and DC sides of the solar power system before making any recommendations.

Fronius Inverter Faults

Solar Systems not generating or not generating enough power

There may be an issue on the DC side of the system which might include inverters, isolators, circuit breakers, combiner boxes, the solar panels and the associated cabling and connectors between them. You should ensure to check visually if everything that you would expect to be is turned 'On' is on. NB: If you find automatic safety devices such as circuit breakers or RCDs are 'Off' then there is likely a very good safety reason for this, leave them 'Off' until the system has been tested.

There may be an issue on the AC side of the system which includes the inverter, any isolators, the generation meter, any consumer units/distribution boards connected to the solar power system, RCDs and circuit breakers and the associated cabling between them. You should ensure to check visually if everything that you would expect to be is turned 'On. NB: If you find automatic safety devices such as circuit breakers or RCDs are 'Off' then there is likely a very good safety reason for this, leave them 'Off' until the system has been tested.

There could be an environmental issue, has there been any changes to the installation area? Has there been any building work carried out nearby? Have trees grown taller and increased the level of shading on the panels? Are the panels excessively dirty?

Assuming a succesful safe shutdown and restart had been carried out, the inverter was not showing any errors and all safety devices such as MCBs and RCD were in operation we would need to provide an engineer to fully test both the AC and DC sides of the solar power system before making any recomendations.

 

Damaged and Faulty Solar Panels

If any solar panel is damaged or faulty then in most systems (those where panels are wired together in strings) there is a good chance that the solar PV system will see a significant reduction in overall power generation. A damaged or faulty solar panel can't always be seen but it can be identified through testing. The ideal fix is to replace the panel with a correctly specified and well sized new one or to rewire in order to exclude the damaged panel.

Low Solar DC Power

Not Enough or No DC Power

If the inverter appears to be working correctly but is not registering any or enough DC power then make sure any and all DC Isolators (often grey, rotary style isolators are used) are switched 'On', some inverters also have built in DC Isolator switches, look around and on the underside of the chassis and make sure anything labelled DC Isolator is switched 'On'. If the inverter recognises the AC side of the system but not the DC and everything is turned on then there could be a problem with either the inverter, the panels, the cables or their connectors. Best advice would be to turn any available isolators (AC and DC) 'Off' and get the DC side of the system tested.

Rain on a Solar Roof

Damaged and Leaking Roofs where solar is installed

A poorly designed and installed solar PV system can cause terrible damage to roofs, which over time can allow moisture to enter and further damage the structure of buildings. Cracked tiles, poor flashing work, damaged underlay, battens and rafters, use of incorrect fixings, poor installation methods, there's a lot that can and has gone wrong when installing solar panels onto roofs.

Even if the solar system isn't directly connected to the problems with the roof, having them there can makes things more complicated to resolve.

Where traditional roofers may have concerns about repairing a roof where solar panels are installed, this is work in which we have many years experience in carrying out.

New Roofing with Solar

New Roofs and Roof Renewals

The time when a roof is due a major refurbishment or replacement might also be an opportune time to revisit the solar PV system design.

We would be happy to remove the panels and reinstall them onto the new roof or to design and supply you with a new roof that integrates the solar PV system.

 

Solar Power System Testing, Servicing & Maintenance

Regular solar PV system testing, servicing and maintenance will extend the life of your solar PV system and ensure that solar panels are always operating safely and at their best, whilst maximising yields.

We offer complete safety and performance testing for solar PV power systems of any size. Includes panels, cables, inverters, isolators and mains connections.

We provide solar power system testing and maintenance services for residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural clients across Southern, South West England and the West Midlands, with specialist experience working with farmers, developers and commercial and industrial buildings owners.

Solar Power System Testing, Servicing & Maintenance

Articles

Further reading related to testing and repairing solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.

ABB / Power One Aurora Inverter Faults and Repairs

Power One, at one point were the second ranked inverter manufacturer in the world and there are many Power One Aurora Inverters installed in the UK. The most popular models being the Uno PVI-3.0-TL-OUTD and the Uno PVI-3.6-TL-OUTD.

Fronius IG / IG Plus Inverter Faults and Repairs

Fronius IG and IG Plus series inverters have LCD displays on the front of the chassis that providing it's working, will highlight any errors with the inverter or the solar PV system that it runs.

Mastervolt Inverter Faults and Repairs

Mastervolt Sunmaster and the smaller Soladin ranges of inverters were widely installed in the UK between 2011 and 2014. Popular Sunmaster models being the Sunmaster XS2000, Sunmaster XS3200 and the Sunmaster XS4300.

SMA Sunnyboy Inverter Faults and Repairs

SMA Sunnyboy Inverters have been widely installed in the UK, some of the most popular being the SB1200, SB2000 and SB3000. High frequency models include the SB2000HF, SB2500HF, and SB3000HF. Transformerless models include the SB3000TL and the SB3600TL.

SolarEdge Inverter and Optimser Faults and Repairs

The SolarEdge system is unique and in our opinion unrivalled in terms of it's ability to monitor system performance down to panel level. This is achieved through the installation of a small unit called an optimiser.

Sonnen Macht Inverter Faults and Repairs

The problem we often find with these inverters are damaged relays, the tell tale sign of a relay failure is an Error 19: Relay or Error 19: Relay Fault warning displayed on the inverter's display.

 

What Our Customers Say:

"We had been let down by a failure on our system,and the manufacturer of the part was no longer trading. We called Glen during the afternoon and he was there in the evening. He examined the system and recommended a replacement manufacterer, promising to come back and fit in the new part once it arrived. We informed Glen of the arrival on a Friday PM, he was there fitting the new part by 10:30 on the following Monday. Of course it worked. That is what you call service, and guess who is looking after all our requirements in the future. Highly recommend this company." - Gill Spencer, Newbury

Recomendation via Facebook

"In Balance contacted us promptly after we made an enquiry, Glen telephoned and arranged to visit our property to identify the fault, he arrived the following day! Brilliant as when the system is down it isn't earning us money. We decided to have a new inverter installed as our original one was 9 years old. Glen ordered the unit which was delivered to our property he then arrange to fit the unit the following day. He really could not have done it any quicker so thank you for that. Good job done for reasonable money. Highly recommended." - Geoff Thomas, Abingdon

Review via Google

"Contacted Glen after being let down by 2 companies. He visited promptly, researched my system and assisted me with getting my solar system up and running again. Amazing man. Will definitely be my first and only port of call for any future issues. Friendly, supportive, knowledgeable and reliable. Highly recommend him." Margaret Bissett, Chisledon

Recomendation via Facebook

"We were very relieved to find Glen when our Solar Panel system stopped working, as our original supplier had gone out of business. We cannot praise Glen's persistence enough as he thoroughly reviewed the system to identify the faults and repair it, despite the searing heat of last summer. He also talked to Solar Edge and provided fault data to enable us to get a replacement part under warranty. Many thanks Glen for getting us up and running again!" - Jane Pearce, Highworth

Recomendation via Facebook

"Glen was very helpful and very reasonably priced. I would recommend him, and use him again in future if I need any solar work." Venu Jega, Highworth

Review via Google

"Outstanding. Conscientious, thorough, friendly and reasonably priced service. Highly recommended. Made our solar panel battery system safe, correcting the sub-standard work of others. Will always use this trustworthy PV electrician. Even after the work was completed, he studied the manual for our system and assisted with resolving further problems. Thanks Glen." Rob Barnes, Royal Wootton Bassett

Review via Cylex

"Very decent with a helpful attitude and expert in the technical side and reliable too. Had to integrate with our roofers to use their scaffolding before and after their work to take down and reinstall our PV panels. Helpful scheduling. Up and running again to our satisfaction at a decent price." David Ballard, Ramsbury

Review via Google

"I got in touch with Glen as our old converter was no longer working due to its age (9 years). Glen quickly diagnosed the inverter and tested the solar panels. The next week replaced it with a new inverter with WiFi connectivity. Everything is working again perfectly and I can see what power it's generating on a phone App now. Great service!!" Peter Dowsett, Chippenham

Recomendation via Facebook

"Our inverter failed and as our installer had gone out of business did not know what to do. Contacted Glen who was brilliant. Came out checked the failure dealt with the manufacturer and all aspects of the warranty claim.New inverter received under warranty and Glen came out and fitted the new one straightaway. Superb service from a very professional and helpful person. Highly recommend this company." Martin Brailey, Wokingham

Review via Google

"Had a tricky fault on my (8 year) old system which Glen narrowed down and has now sorted at a very reasonable price. We have also had our faulty inverter replaced by In Balance; would recommend if he covers your area!" Peter Nobes, Bath

Recomendation via Facebook

"My inverter failed and Glen very quickly got my system up and running again. He was very professional but explained everything to me. Many thanks Glen and I've already recommended him." Di Foxwell, Wroughton

Recomendation via E-Mail

"New meter doing the business nicely. Good job, great service and friendly with it. Our thanks." Richard Illsley, Marlborough

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