Energy Stuff - Solar Systems, Solar System Repairs, New Systems, Upgrades & Monitoring


Q. How do I get the best out of my solar system over winter?


With winter approaching solar panel owners should be anticipating the drop in solar power output that comes in the cooler months

With shorter days, more cloud cover and the sun shining at a different angle, you may lose up to a third of your solar system’s usual output. While this will impact on your power bills — there are things that can be done to make sure your panels continue operating as efficiently as possible all through the winter.

Winter weather doesn’t necessarily mean less solar power – as your solar system can function better in cool sunny weather than in the very hot summer days. Solar panels are tested at 25 degrees Celsius — so for every degree, the temperature climbs above that, the panel’s output efficiency is reduced. In that regard, winter weather has an advantage over summer — though it needs all the help it can get with the added challenges of shorter days and increased cloud cover.

With that in mind, there are some ways you can offset that winter drop, starting with the most low-tech solutions and working up to the ones that might require a little extra investment.

Clean your panels

While taking good care of your solar panels should be a regular affair, autumn is a particularly good time to give them some extra attention. Winter is when you’ll be needing that little bit extra, after all. If you haven’t done so recently — and if it can be done safely — you should give your solar panels a good clean in case of any built-up grime, dirt or other unwelcome additions to your panel like spots of bird poop. You should avoid using harsh chemicals or rough brushes to clean PV panels — instead use some warm water and a sponge wrapped in a cloth, or a soft brush. If you can’t get to your solar panels easily (or if you just don’t have the time) contact us and we will put you in touch with a specialist panel cleaner.

Get the most of the winter sun

Now is also a good time to make sure your panels are still getting access to all the sunlight they need. Generally, your panels should be receiving full sun from 9 am until 5 pm — and taking into consideration the angle of the winter sun, you may find that stray branches or overgrown trees are shading part of your panel array. This is especially important to address if you’re running on a central inverter rather than a microinverter. If you can, trim any branches that may be interfering with your precious sunlight.

Time for a checkup

Like your car, your solar system should be maintained and checked at least once a year, though many work on the ‘set and forget’ principal. Some early systems may need repair in that isolators, inverters, wiring and sealing may need attention. If you have not had your system checked for a few years then we suggest you do this over the next few months. If you are in Victoria or Queensland we can provide a full system audit by an accredited CEC installer. Contact us today using the form if you need this service

What gets measured gets better

Now that you’ve run through the basics of setting your solar panels up for winter, it’s time to look at what more you can do to squeeze every last drop of energy out of your investment in solar energy. If you want to get more hands-on with your power, it’s time to look at monitoring.

While some inverters come with monitoring via Wi-Fi and apps most of these only offer limited feedback. If you are really keen to not just monitor but actively manage your energy, then I suggest you look at a more comprehensive Smart Energy platform. One I recommend is Emberpulse which offers great feedback on the energy produced by your solar system and the energy used within the home as well as appliance automation. It provides real-time alerts for better energy management and if your system goes down with all of these backed with money back guarantees.

How we help

If your inverter has failed, we can look at a simple Inverter Swap with a like-sized model. This will not impact on your current system compliance and you can order online for a quick replacement.

Any supporting information you can provide when completing the form will help us to determine your issue. This may cover error codes, fault descriptions, the frequency of faults, current status of the system (switched off, on and off intermittent). Another time-saving idea is to photograph the inverter label which can provide us with valuable details on the unit.

If you live in a metro area, we can supply this audit service for $200.00 plus GST, and you can place an order via our shop. If you live in a regional area, then please fill out the form, and we will get back to you with a firm quote to visit your site.

Please note if the fault can be fixed at the time of the audit then the installer will quote a price, and if acceptable to you will fix the issue on the spot and charge you the fee directly.

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