Not all solar installers work to the same quality standards, and fewer still operate reliable post-installation service and maintenance departments.
At Sun Valley Solar, our service team is frequently called out to inspect and repair underperforming systems installed by unqualified solar companies. To make the problem even more frustrating for the homeowner, the vast majority of these systems were designed and installed by solar companies that are no longer in business. We refer to them as orphaned systems.
Like every young industry, solar has some questionable actors who don’t always operate in the best interest of their customers. Fortunately, most of these teams don’t manage to outlive their poor reputations and shoddy quality.
When properly designed, installed, and maintained, a modern solar energy system should provide decades of reliable service. With that said, here are a few tips that you can follow to ensure that you’re getting the maximum performance from your solar investment before and after the sale.
1. Keep your solar panels clean
Dust on solar panels isn’t so good. Dust that’s turned into hardened mud through prolonged moisture exposure is even worse. Both of these situations block sunlight from reaching your solar cells. A simple spray and light brushing is all it takes to keep your panels clean. You can even contact a panel cleaning service in your area if you’re not comfortable on ladders.
2. Keep trees trimmed to avoid shade
The amount of sunlight that reaches your solar panels directly affects their energy production. It's important to regularly trim trees and shrubs around your panels to prevent shading. Keep in mind that trees and shrubs constantly grow, so what may not be a problem today could become an issue in a few months. Monitoring the path of the sun throughout the day and following the shadows can help ensure maximum time at full sun exposure for optimal performance.
3. Let your solar panels breathe
Nobody loves the look of solar shingles more than we do. But here in Arizona, rooftops can easily reach temperatures north of 150 degrees. This extreme heat can impede solar panel performance. The fix is having plenty of airflow beneath the panels. For the same reason, it’s important to clear debris and even add bird guards if nesting is a problem in your area.
4. Monitor system performance
The only way to be sure that your solar panels are performing at their peak is if you are monitoring the health of your entire system regularly. Most solar energy systems offer remote monitoring via smartphone apps or through a customer portal on the manufacturer’s website. If you would prefer to leave the monitoring to the experts, Sun Valley Solar Solutions offers special service packages with options for active monitoring. When a problem is spotted, our technicians will contact you to discuss options.
5. Pick your solar partner wisely
When you purchase solar, you’re making an investment that's measured in decades. Be sure to select a partner with the experience to custom-engineer a fully optimized system specifically for you, and with the resources to service that system over its decades-long lifespan. Many sales-only solar companies hand your project off to a third party once the money changes hands. We always recommend working with a solar installer that’s been around a while, has an in-house service team, and is fully responsible and committed to your project from beginning to end.
As always, Sun Valley Solar is here to answer all your solar related questions. Whether you purchased your solar energy system from us, or someone who’s no longer in business, we’re happy to help assess any underperforming solar array. When it comes to advancing the future of renewable energy, we all rise together.