Solar energy is one of the clean energy types that have become popular over the last decade. A lot have also started using solar panels for their homes and businesses. With all of the advantages that solar panel use has, more people are considering shifting, too.
Even though solar panel installation is costly, the benefits of using it are enough to convince people why it is worth it. But despite all of its strong points, solar panels can have issues, too. Problems can still happen — no matter how expensive or efficient your solar panels are.
The good news is, that is normal. Manufacturers say that users should expect to encounter issues over time. Just like all things in life, clean energy use is not perfect. But, it certainly is better than fossil-fueled resources.
If you’ve been considering shifting to solar panels, it’s best to be aware of the common issues that you could encounter. Knowing the common problems will help you manage your expectations as well. In this article, let’s discuss the five common issues users have with solar panels.
1. Birds and squirrels nesting
One of the common issues solar panel users experience is birds or squirrel nesting. Often, birds and squirrels typically nest on a property’s roof. But if you have solar panels installed on your roof, they’re likely to nest under those for warmth and protection.
Now, why is this an issue? If birds leave droppings on your panels, their efficiency can be affected. Remember, solar panels’ job is to collect sunlight. The droppings that block your panels could lessen the area for energy collection.
That’s why regular panel cleaning is a must. If you leave bird droppings on your panels, algae formation can occur.
2. Minimal roof damage
Another common issue solar panel users experience is roof damage. This is more evident in old properties. One of the things solar panel manufacturers recommend is to have your roof repaired first before any installation.
If you’re wondering how long solar panels last, the answer is for decades. They can last a maximum of thirty to thirty-five years if used accordingly. If you’re spending thousands of dollars on solar panel installation, you have to make sure that your property’s roof condition is good.
It would be such a waste if your roof won’t be able to handle the solar panels. Also, you have to keep in mind that the panels are heavy. That means, if your roof is old, minimal damage can happen. Roof deterioration, roof rot, and loose tiles are possible.
Before you have any solar panels installed on your roof, I suggest having it checked first. Also, ask for a solar manufacturer’s opinion on whether your roof condition is ready for installation. That way, you get to maximise and enjoy your solar panels. Following the solar panel maintenance procedures can help you avoid roof damage, too.
3. Dirt accumulation on the panels
Since the solar panels will be installed on your roof, dirt accumulation can happen. Even though solar panels are low maintenance, it’s necessary to clean them regularly. If you don’t encounter any bird and squirrel nesting, that’s great. But just because you don’t have that problem doesn’t mean you can leave your panels unattended.
If you live near a city, dirt accumulation can be high. If there are a lot of cars that pass by your street, dust can cover your panels within a week. According to solar panel experts, dust can affect the panel’s efficiency. Just like bird droppings, if you don’t attend to them immediately, it could affect your panels’ efficiency.
When your solar panels’ efficiency decreases, the amount of energy it converts will lessen as well. In short, your energy consumption and use will be affected, too. Before cleaning your panels, it’s important to consult your manufacturer first. It’s best to learn the basic cleaning methods instead of cleaning the panels without knowing the proper way.
4. Electrical wiring issues
Solar panels work by converting light into energy. To do that, they need the help of electrical wiring to operate. If your solar panel manufacturer did not install the wiring properly, there’s a chance that you’ll encounter issues.
Aside from that, since the wiring is installed on the roof, it is prone to corrosion. Once your electrical wires start to corrode, circuit problems can happen. When you notice your panels not performing as efficiently as they used to, there’s a possibility of a wiring problem.
If old electrical wiring was used for your panels, I suggest having it replaced immediately. It’s better to replace it than to wait for an issue to happen before doing so. Keep in mind that pests like rats can cause damage to your wiring, too. If they chew your wiring, its circuit performance could be affected.
Loose wire connections and oxidation can happen over time. The weather can also contribute to your wire’s condition and performance. It would be best to practice checking your wiring from time to time to prevent any issues from happening. Doing so will help you maximise your solar panels’ efficiency.
5. Inverter issues
Last but not least are inverter issues. One thing to know about solar panels is that the energy they collect is direct current. However, the type of current that we use for our home appliances is an alternating current. If you’re installing solar panels, you’ll need a solar inverter to utilise solar energy.
Often, the issues users have with their inverters are connected to their electrical wiring. If your wiring has damage, your inverter won’t likely translate direct current to alternating current. When that happens, you won’t be able to use any solar energy at home.
If you think that your solar inverter has an issue, it would be best to inform your manufacturer right away. It’s better to have the inverter checked than to navigate and try doing alternatives that you’re not sure of.
Experiencing an issue with your solar panels does not mean that they’re inefficient.
The five issues I discussed are just some of the common problems solar panel users experience. As you use your solar panels, expect that you’ll encounter one or more issues similar to the ones I shared — but that does not mean that your solar panels are inefficient.
Encountering issues is normal and is part of your clean energy journey. Even though there are possible problems that can arise, you can do something to prevent those from happening. If you follow the proper way of using your panels and have them regularly cleaned and checked, you won’t likely encounter issues that will give you a hard time.
About the author:
Bianca Banda is a writer for Penrith Solar Centre, an Australian solar company that advocates better energy resources to improve the quality of life on Earth.