Monitoring and Maintenance

I regularly get calls here at Greenhouse Electrical Services from people who have either received a bill, much larger than they are used to (as a result of their system failing) or because they noticed an error light on their inverter. I usually recommend that they contact the installer or sales company that installed it, however the common response is that they either don’t want to know about it, or they no longer exist.
Often the first point of failure is the inverter, and unfortunately it’s usually the cheap systems that fail first (and a new, good quality inverter costs about half of what they paid for the original system), the next weak point is the rooftop isolator. Inverters that have a bad reputation for failure are the AeroSharp inverter, the SolarRiver, and GroWatt. Whilst Growatt are still a going concern and can be replaced like-for-like, the first two examples are no longer available. I recommend replacing these inverters with one of the Fronius range of inverters.
The panels themselves seem to last longer as a whole, but rather than failing completely their output may be diminished.
Systems of this age generally don’t have any monitoring capabilities, so issues aren’t immediately noticed. It’s a great idea to have monitoring set up for your inverter (if it supports it) or retrofitted by means of third party devices such as Solar Analytics.  If you want to be able to see what your producing and consuming, as well as some other great information, a Solar Analytics package can be added to your system quickly and at relatively low cost. It’s amazing just how much having a monitored system can enlighten you as to the way you use and generate power.