Is my solar working properly?
There are some very basic steps you can take to make sure your solar panels are working. There are also some other simple steps you can take to make sure it is producing the right amount of energy.
If you are not a GI Energy customer and need help with a faulty solar system, please contact us by clicking here.
Checking your solar panels with online monitoring
If you have installed your solar panels in recent times (post 2017) you will most likely have Wi-Fi monitoring available. This means you will be able to set up your inverter with your home internet and see how your solar is working by checking the associated App or desktop portal. If this was not set up by your installer when they installed your solar panels we have guides for Fronius and Sungrow inverters below:
For other inverters you will need to contact the manufacturer or the installer who installed the solar for you. If you cannot find the original installer, here are some general links to the major manufactures of solar inverters:
If you do not have a Wi-Fi compatible inverter or a Wi-Fi signal at your inverter, there are some more basic things you can do to make sure the solar panels are working.
Check the inverter
Your solar inverter is a box that usually sits on the wall next to your meter box. They can also be installed near a sub board (usually in a garage). The images below show the popular inverter brands we have installed over the years.
Your inverter may not look exactly like the ones above (Sungrow, Fronius, FIMER (ABB) and SMA) but you will have something similar installed that you can check.
If your inverter is not Wi-Fi compatible, you will have a screen on the front of the inverter and also some indicator lights. Here is what to do:
- Check the LED lights and make sure there is no red or flashing lights.
- Look at the screen of the inverter and see if there are any error codes showing.
- Most inverters will have a default display showing numbers that vary up and down ranging from a few hundred up to a few thousand. This is showing how much energy your solar is producing.
If you cannot see any red lights, any flashing lights, any error codes and the screen is showing some solar production, then it probably means your solar is working.
How do I know if it is producing the right amount of energy?
If you have Wi-Fi monitoring you will be able to see a chart of much energy is being produced day by day, monthly and annually. Without Wi-Fi monitoring you will be able to do these basic calculations yourself.
If you look at the screen of the inverter again, most inverters will have some small buttons you can press to navigate through the different menus. Please note, some inverters have small rubber buttons, others you have to tap the screen. Because all inverters are different, this guide is only to be used as a general “point in the right direction” guide.
Your inverter will be able to show you how much energy is being produced right now, which is represented by a constantly changing number varying from a few hundred up to a few thousand. If you have a 5kW inverter, this number will never go higher than 5000. With larger inverters, the number will go higher right up to the limit of the inverter output. To test how much energy you are producing daily though, there is usually also a section that shows the total accumulated energy for the day.
The above image shows a close up of a Fronius inverter screen. The number “3840” on the display is showing how many watts are being produced.
You can usually find this number fairly easily by going up and down through the menu until you see a screen that says something like ETODAY or TODAY.
If you check this number at the end of the day (just before this sun leaves your solar panels) and write down the total production for the day, you can start to paint a picture of how much energy you are producing. You should do this over a period of at least 10-days and take into consideration weather.
This table show how much energy you should be producing on average in different areas. Please note, these numbers are a year-round average. If you are testing your solar panels in middle of winter the number should be approximately 20% – 30% lower than the table. In summer it should be 20% – 30% higher.
For specific instructions on how to navigate through your inverter, check your user manual. If you cannot find the user manual, here is a list of resources to check:
Check you power bill
Another way to see if your solar is working properly is to go back through the history of your power bills. If you have a system that is allowed to sell energy back to the grid, this will be shown on your power bill somewhere.
If you have not changed the way you use energy, this number should be fairly consistent each year. Please remember the different seasons here and remember you will produce a lot more solar in summer compared to winter.
If the export has dropped significantly over time and you are 100% sure you have not used more electricity, then it may mean you solar is not working properly. If you suspect this is the case, then you should use the methodology above to check the solar panels performance on the inverters over time.
Older systems that have been in place for many years or were in place when you moved in.
If your solar has been installed for a very long time or was there when you first moved in, you may not know how many panels you have installed. Furthermore, lots of older systems (pre 2015) were very small and not very effective. Solar panels used to cost a lot more than they do today, so it was common for people to install 1.5kW solar arrays. This size array will have some impact on your power bill, but when compared to the average size for today, which is 7.6kW, the impact is fairly minimal.
Unfortunately, a lot of solar panels that are currently installed in Australia are not great quality either. The industry has been very transient with solar installers and manufacturers often only being around for a short period of time. This has led to lots of solar panels being taken down and replaced due to warranties no longer being valid after installers and manufacturers close their doors.
These days, we unfortunately have to take down a lot of old panels that are no longer working and replace them with newer, more reputable ones. If you think your solar system is not longer working properly, please feel free to get in touch and can help with all the above steps to work out if it is working properly or not.
If your solar system was installed by GI Energy you will be extremely well looked after so please get in touch if you are having any issues and we will help.
Here are some other links you may find handy: