James Elston

James Elston

Published July 11, 2024

Underperforming solar panels can be fixed by identifying and addressing common issues like shading, dirt, and faulty wiring. Regular cleaning and monitoring are the best prevention methods.

But, if underperformance is already evident, the fix may depend on the nature of the problem, often requiring professional help. Let’s take a closer look at the issue.

Why Solar Panels Underperform And How To Fix It

Here are some of the most common issues that cause solar panels to underperform as well as solutions to overcome these problems:

Shading

Shading is by far one of the most common reasons for solar panel underperformance. Shadows cast by trees, buildings, or other obstructions can block sunlight from reaching the panels. This can significantly reduce their efficiency. Even partial shading on one panel can affect the whole system’s output because of how solar panels are wired together.

A professional solar panel installer will conduct a thorough site assessment before installation to identify potential shading issues.

How to fix:

To mitigate shading, regularly trim trees and other vegetation around your solar panels. If new constructions are causing the shading, you should perhaps consider moving the solar panels to a more suitable location.

Additionally, using microinverters or power optimisers can help minimise the impact of shading.

Dirt, dust, and debris

When dirt, dust, and debris build up on solar panels, their energy output will be significantly impacted. These particles block sunlight from reaching the solar cells, decreasing the overall efficiency. This issue tends to be seen a lot in areas with high pollution, frequent dust storms, or near construction sites. Even bird droppings and leaves can contribute to solar power systems underperforming.

How to fix:

Clean your solar panels on a regular basis, using a soft brush and mild soapy water to gently scrub off the dirt.

Alternatively, you can hire professional cleaning services to ensure thorough maintenance. Hiring a professional, like Eco Happy, is highly recommended if your panels are in a hard-to-reach area.

Faulty wiring

Poor connections, damaged wires, or incorrect installation can lead to huge energy loss and your electricity bills increasing. Faulty wiring can cause intermittent power outages, reduced efficiency, and even safety hazards like electrical fires. Oftentimes, this issue comes down to poor installation, showing just how important it is to have a professional handle the job.

How to fix:

Get a qualified technician to help identify and fix the faulty wiring. They’ll ensure that connections are secure and will promptly replace any damaged wires. Again, hiring a certified professional from the start can prevent wiring issues from happening altogether.

Inverter failure

The inverter is tasked with converting the direct current (DC) generated by the panel into alternating current (AC), which is used to power most home appliances. If the inverter breaks down, the entire system can suffer, leading to reduced panel output. Inverter failure is normally caused by overheating, electrical surges, and component wear.

How to fix:

Make sure that the inverter is in a well-ventilated area to avoid overheating. You should also perform periodic checks to detect any signs of wear or damage. If you think your inverter is the issue, get in touch with a professional for a comprehensive assessment. It might come down to replacing an old or malfunctioning inverter with a modern or more efficient model.

Ageing panels

Over time, solar panels naturally start to degrade and lose their efficiency. Old panels typically lose about 0.5% of their capacity each year, leading to a big decrease in performance over decades. It all comes down to wear and tear of the materials, exposure to the elements, and the loss of photovoltaic efficiency. While this gradual decline is inevitable, it is manageable with proper care.

How to fix:

Although ageing can’t be completely prevented, regular maintenance can slow down the degradation. Clean the panels regularly, inspect for any physical damage, and replace damaged components promptly. If your old system is significantly underperforming, it’s probably worth getting in touch with the system provider for advice on an upgrade.

Our advice is to invest in high-quality panels from the start to ensure a longer lifespan.

Monitoring and Detection

If you want to keep your solar PV system firing on all cylinders, you should aim to prevent issues before they happen. Here are some pointers that can help:

  • Install a dedicated monitoring system: This will help you track energy production and identify any performance issues early on. Also, there are some quite advanced monitoring systems out there that can provide real-time data, making it even easier to spot irregularities.
  • Regular checks: Routinely monitor your system. Look out for any issues like reduced energy output or general system faults.
  • Consult your solar PV system provider: If you notice persistent issues, reach out to your provider as soon as possible. They can provide professional assistance and help with any potential warranty claims.
  • Adjust your energy consumption habits: Optimise your energy use by running appliances when energy production is at its peak, which is usually around midday.

Improve Your Solar Panel Performance with Eco Happy

Improve the performance of your solar system with Eco Happy’s expert service and maintenance solutions. Our team can help you boost power output and address major issues before they affect your savings. You could try to do this yourself but, let’s face it, solar panels are complex systems and we both know that you don’t have enough time to set aside for Googling.

So, trust Eco Happy, your reliable solar panel expert and provider, to keep your energy production at its peak. Contact ustoday to ensure your system runs efficiently and to save on your electric bills.

FAQs

How often should solar panels be cleaned?

Clean your solar panels on a regular schedule, ideally every six to 12 months to maintain optimal performance and prevent damage. Bear in mind that this could vary depending on your location and environmental conditions.

Can I clean my solar panels myself?

Yes, you definitely can. Clean your solar panels using a soft brush or cloth and water. But, if you’re unsure of what you’re doing or if the panels are difficult to access, it’s better to hire a professional for the job.

Do I need a professional to fix underperforming solar panels?

Some issues, like cleaning and minor repairs, can be done yourself, but more complex problems like faulty wiring or inverter failure require professional attention. Hiring professional help ensures safe and effective resolution.

Our Verdict

Always remember that prevention is better than cure, so maximise the efficiency of your solar power system by addressing these performance issues before they happen. How? Regular maintenance and monitoring to ensure the solar panels offer the right electricity output. If you detect solar panel issues that you can’t figure out yourself, Eco Happy is here to help.

James Elston

James Elston

Boiler Expert


James Elston is the top boiler replacement and heating expert at Eco Happy. He has over 20 years of experience in the industry, focusing on Gas Safe boiler installations and offering home-heating and energy-saving solutions to homeowners across the UK. From sourcing the most energy-efficient combi boiler to providing specialist heating advice, James ensures that Eco Happy maintains the highest standards and best customer service.

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