Energy Safe Victoria advises that the safe and efficient use of electricity in the home is important for your family’s welfare and may assist you to reduce electricity usage and your costs. Keep your family safe by ensuring all electrical appliances and equipment in and around your home are safe to use and in good working order.
General Electrical Maintenance
Certified and Experienced in All Aspects of Home Electricity
Split System Air Conditioning
Regular Health Checks and Maintenance To Keep Your Split System Running Effectively Into the Future
Chief Electricians recommend a number of steps to prolong the life of your split system and ensuring that it continues to operate at maximum capability.
- Make sure that both indoor and outdoor units are not obstructed or covered. Your system needs access to air to operate.
- Use the timer function on your unit or turn it off when not in use to avoid overworking the system.
- Service your units regularly and professionally. A split system air conditioner is a machine with many components, much like your car, and as such needs to be taken care of and serviced at regular intervals. Chief Electricians are qualified and authorised with all governing bodies to install and service split systems, meaning you’re always in the best hands.
Solar Panel Maintenance
REGULAR SOLAR PANEL MAINTENANCE
The Australian Clean Energy Regulator stipulates that it is vital to have regular maintenance carried out on your solar panel system. Getting a local contractor to have regular maintenance carried out will ensure your solar panel system is operating safely, correctly and efficiently.
Over time things like dust, debris and panel age will compromise the performance of your solar panel system and reduce it’s efficiency to collect solar energy. In addition, natural causes such as water and moisture seepage, vermin, hail, wind and regular harsh sunlight can also cause damage or deterioration to your system.
By ensuring regular routine maintenance is undertaken, you can ensure your solar panel system is safe for everyone living in the premises, along with electrical workers working on the distribution network. Routine maintenance will also ensure system performance is maintained, allowing you to maximise savings on your power bills for many years. Just like running a car, regular servicing is the best way to ensure your solar panel system keeps operating safely, correctly and efficiently to maximise solar power production.
Maintaining your solar panel system involves much more than simply cleaning your solar panels. Regular maintenance of your solar panel system should ensure:
- Solar panels are clean, secure and free of defects
- No parts have deteriorated/corroded
- Vents are free of debris
- Switches do not have any defects
- Wiring has not been damaged/has not deteriorated
- Electrical checks to ensure all components are operating as intended
- Confirming fittings and cables are securely attached
- Reviewing the inverter display panel for recorded faults
- Checking that access to the isolator switches has not been impeded, and/or
- Making sure the emergency procedures for shutdown and isolation are clearly displayed.
The Clean Energy Council recommends that solar panel systems should only be inspected and maintained by a local licensed electrician company like Chief Electricians.
Inspections and Testing
MAXIMISE YOUR SOLAR SYSTEM EFFICIENCY
More than two million Australian households now have rooftop solar panels that have a combined capacity exceeding 10 GW. Although many of these systems were installed many years ago & a lot of homeowners don’t know if their systems are performing to capacity.
Over time the efficiency of a solar panel can change and the only way to know it is maintaining its capabilities is to have them inspected and tested. Most of the time people find out their solar system needs an inspection when they receive a higher-than-expected electricity bill which indicates the system isn’t performing or simply by your inverter staying permanently switched off.
Is your electricity bill much higher even though your consumption patterns haven’t changed? Your solar power system supplier should have provided you with estimates of how much energy you will generate, you can compare this to what your electricity bill or inverter monitoring system is telling you to help determine any issues.
If you are generating less than what was predicted, your inverter monitoring system may be able to assist you by describing any faults or errors. As a good starting point, almost all inverters have red and green indicator lights indicating whether they are functioning well.
If you see errors, faults or red lights it could mean there is an issue in the system & the best way is to organise a local company to do a solar panel inspection & test. In all cases, it is important to remember that solar systems are producing high voltage of electricity so you should only use a qualified electrician and never try to fix any problem yourself.
Solar Panel Cleaning
CLEAN SOLAR PANELS CrEATE MORE ENERgY
Solar Victoria is one of many independent bodies who advise all property owners to get their solar panels cleaned regularly to ensure optimal performance. Solar panels need periodic light cleaning to make sure dirt, leaves and other debris aren’t obstructing sun light hitting the PV and reducing performance.
Spring is usually the best time to check that your solar panels are clean, and your system maintained for the peak solar energy producing months ahead.
Chief Electricians can do a solar panel clean at the same time as other checks on your solar energy system. Getting your panels professionally cleaned is a good chance to get a visual inspection for defects such as cracks, chips and discoloration. Any issues can be logged, monitored for further deterioration and their effect on the efficiency of the system measured. This information could lead to a warranty claim on the panels, if needed down the track.
Solar Inverter Fault Testing
INVERTER CHECKS BY AN ELECTRICIAN
A common problem we find with inverters is that they have been installed incorrectly. Chief Electricians regularly provide inverter fault testing for property owners and find they have been physically misconnected through to incorrect programming of the inverter itself. We often see this is because the inverter installation company in Melbourne hasn’t followed the user manual recommendations and selected the wrong cable types, gauges or in-line fuses.
In other examples technology devices like cars, phones or inverters can also fail with age and simply require replacing. This is why it becomes important to have your inverter fault tested by a qualified electrician in Melbourne. Some of the steps we take to fault test solar inverters include;
- Battery Not Charging.
- Excessively High Reading on Battery Voltage.
- Improper Loading.
- Fault Line is On but AC Load Not Working.
- Reverse Polarity Connection on Solar Inverter.
- Improper Disconnection of Loads.
SOME OF THE BRANDS WE WORK WITH
Yes, Chief Electricians are able to provide a wide range of testing, maintenance or cleaning of solar panels in Melbourne.
Better Homes and Gardens are a provider of Australian home advice and information. They provide some benefits of regularly cleaning your solar panels.
Solar panels are generally pretty much self-cleaning as natural rainfall will usually wash away the accumulated dust and grime. However, if your solar panels are only tilted minimally, or you live in a high-traffic, dry or dusty area, or even by the sea, then you’re going to need to clean your solar panels in order for them to continue generating maximum output of power.
Dirty solar panels reduce the amount of sunlight being absorbed by the panel, thus reducing the amount of electricity being generated by the solar panel. Further to that, solar panels are a product of electrical technology, and need to be maintained in order to keep them working and in good condition for years to come.
Furthermore, Build.com.au, a provider of Australian building and renovation advice, have the following recommendations when thinking about cleaning panels.
Though you don’t need to go overboard, it’s a good idea to keep your panels clean by cleaning them every six to twelve months. Doing this ensures that your panels are getting as much light as possible – dust on your panels will filter and reflect light, slightly reducing their efficiency. Keeping them clean will also help prevent things like mould or other debris from affecting how well they work.
Solar Victoria says the following about hiring a professional to clean your solar panels.
Professional panel cleaning: Your installer might offer a cleaning service, done at the same time as other checks on the system. Getting your panels professionally cleaned is a good chance to get a visual inspection for defects such as cracks, chips and discoloration. Any issues can be logged, monitored for further deterioration and their effect on the efficiency of the system recorded. This information could lead to a warranty claim on the panels, if needed down the track.
Or your installer might recommend someone just for the cleaning aspect instead. There are plenty of specialist solar panel cleaning companies so get someone with a track record cleaning panels. Anyone cleaning your system should use full safety gear, and not stand on or place anything on top of the panels. They should also avoid using harsh soap or chemicals – usually water is enough.
“Remember that a bit of dust and grime on the surface of the panels is normal and cleaning them too often is probably not worth the cost or the risk,” says Lance.
The Australian Government clean energy regulator provides requirements and recommendations regarding solar panel servicing.
It is important that regular maintenance is carried out on your solar panel system. Undertaking regular maintenance will ensure your solar panel system is operating safely, correctly and efficiently.
Over time dust and debris will build up on your solar panels, which may compromise the performance of your solar panel system. In addition, water and moisture seepage, vermin, hail, wind and sunlight can all cause damage or deterioration to your system.
By ensuring regular routine maintenance is undertaken, you can ensure your solar panel system is safe for everyone living in the premises, along with electrical workers working on the distribution network. Routine maintenance will also ensure system performance is maintained, allowing you to maximise savings on your power bills for many years.
Just like running a car, regular servicing is the best way to ensure your solar panel system keeps operating safely, correctly and efficiently.
Like all electrical equipment, regular maintenance of your solar panel system is necessary. Please take note of and follow the maintenance schedule provided by your solar retailer or installer.
Choice provides vital information on the need for solar panel servicing.
Solar panel fires have increased five-fold over the past three years.
Fire and Rescue NSW data shows firefighters attended 139 solar panel fires last year, well up from 56 fires in 2019, and 22 in 2018.
While many of these fires are caused by incorrect installation or faulty manufacturing of direct current (DC) isolator switches – which are designed to isolate the solar panels from the rest of the house – Fire and Rescue NSW advises that regular servicing is an important factor in preventing fires.
“By ensuring solar panels are installed by a licensed installer, and are well maintained by a professional, you can prevent a tragedy,” says superintendent Graham Kingsland from the Fire Investigation and Research Unit.
Renew provide information regarding the regular maintenance of your solar panels.
Solar panels are largely a set-and-forget technology, but the occasional bit of maintenance can keep them performing at their peak.
Lance Turner looks at what’s involved. It’s easy to ignore your solar panels. After all, they sit on the roof and generate electricity without you having to think about them. But like everything that is left outside in the weather, the outdoor environment can affect them, potentially leading to a reduction in performance.
Two primary causes of reduced system output are dirty panels and panel damage. When a panel is damaged, such as by a stone or hail, it usually needs to be replaced for system reliability. Dirty panels, on the other hand, generally just have reduced output which slowly becomes worse over time.
Things that affect cleaning requirements:
- Roof slope—steeper angles produce faster water runoff speeds, providing more effective cleaning just from rain. With shallow angles, water and dust will pool more easily, so the panels get dirtier faster. The Clean Energy Council (CEC) recommends a panel slope of at least 10 degrees to shed water and dirt effectively.
- Location—rural areas tend to be dustier, but any area near a dirt road or construction work can produce a lot of floating dust that can settle on panels. If there is dust being moved around by wind or machine, panels will generally need cleaning more often.
- Wildlife—it’s not just dust that blocks sunlight to solar panels; animal poo does too. This includes bird poo (the most common problem) and sometimes possum poo, although the latter tends to wash off in heavy rain if the panels have a reasonable slope.
- Vegetation—if trees drop their leaves on your solar panels, this can greatly reduce energy production. Leaves tend to stick to panels when wet and may not wash off even in heavy rain. If you have trees relatively close to your panels or have noticed a sudden drop-off in output, especially after a storm or high winds, a quick visual inspection will tell you if leaves are the culprit.
The Clean Energy Council also outline the importance of solar system maintenance.
Solar systems must be maintained on a regular basis. A maintenance schedule should be provided by the installer. Undertaking regular maintenance of your solar system ensures that:
- it is operating correctly
- the system performance is maintained
- the system is safe for everyone in the premises as well as for any electrical workers working on the distribution network
Always engage an appropriately qualified tradesperson to undertake maintenance work on your solar system. We recommend you use a Clean Energy Council accredited installer.
Some distributors may request that an anti-islanding test of the inverter be carried out periodically. Check with your distributor as each will have different requirements.
What maintenance is needed for solar panels?
The Clean Energy Regulator provide an outline on what is involved in comprehensive solar panel maintenance.
Maintaining your solar panel system involves much more than simply cleaning your solar panels. Regular maintenance of your solar panel system should ensure:
- solar panels are clean, secure and free of defects.
- no parts have deteriorated/corroded.
- vents are free of debris.
- switches do not have any defects.
- wiring has not been damaged/has not deteriorated.
- electrical checks to ensure all components are operating as intended.
- confirming fittings and cables are securely attached.
- reviewing the inverter display panel for recorded faults.
- checking that access to the isolator switches has not been impeded, and/or
- making sure the emergency procedures for shutdown and isolation are clearly displayed.
Furthermore, Choice provides a good description of what maintenance is needed for your solar panel system.
The purpose of a solar panel service is to check that the system is still in good condition and all elements are functioning as they should be. This will usually include a visual inspection, and an electrical inspection to check the electrical integrity of the panels.
Technicians will likely remove any debris and obvious grime from your panels during a service, but you’ll need to pay extra for a full clean of your system.
One of the most important things that technicians will be checking for during a service is to see if water has got into your DC isolator. This issue has been identified by the CER as the most common safety risk associated with PV solar systems.
How much does it cost to maintain solar panels?
Choice provides the following information about typical costs of a solar panel service.
How much a solar panel service costs.
A standard service by an accredited solar installer costs roughly $200 to $300 depending on the size of the system and the individual provider. If repairs are required, the costs will vary, but many repairs may be covered by your warranty.
Fixr.com offer a great description of how much panel maintenance will cost, as well as the factors effecting the cost based on your individual home.
The average cost to clean and maintain solar panels is $150 to $330. The actual cost of cleaning will depend on a number of factors, including where you live, house height, roof slant, and what type of solar setup you have installed. If you have a 2kW solar PV system with 10 panels, expect to pay between $150-$330. Cleaning a 20 panel 3kW solar system will cost on average, $500-$750. If you are billed per panel, expect to pay $15-$35 per panel. and some business charge a flat fee.
What is the average life of solar panels?
LG Energy are a manufacturer of solar panels and give insight into the lifespan on typical residential panels.
Solar panels are made from Silicon and can last at least 25 years if properly maintained. However, they do lose efficiency over a period of time. LG offers a 25-year output warranty for its panels. Low-cost solar panels do use materials with less long-life properties, and some have started to fail in the harsh Australian climate.
GreenMatch UK are a provider of renewable energy and solar information for residential homes, they provide some useful technical information about the effectiveness of solar panels over their lifespan.
During the life of photovoltaic panels, a 20 per cent decrease in power capacity might occur. Between the first 10 to 12 years, the maximum decrease in efficiency is 10 per cent, and 20 per cent when reaching 25 years. These figures are guaranteed by the majority of manufacturers.
Still, experience shows that, in reality, the efficiency drops by merely 6 to 8 per cent after 25 years. The lifespan of solar panels may thus be much longer than officially stated. The lifespan of high-quality PV panels may even reach 30 to 40 years, and be still functional afterwards, though with decreasing efficiency.
Renew Economy are a leading provider of clean energy news and analysis and say the following about the cost of cleaning panels on your solar array.
The average cost of having your panels cleaned by a reputable solar installation company ranges from $10.00 – $20.00 per panel.
If a homeowner has an average size, say 2KW, solar PV system on their roof with say 10 panels then they would be up for an annual fee of $330.00 if they are charged $18.00 per panel.
Homeadvisor.com provides further information on what can affect the price of your solar panel cleaning.
Homeowners spend an average of $150 to have their solar panels cleaned. Depending on factors such as roof slant, home height and system size. Some charge a flat rate within a range of $150 to $350. Annual inspections are typically $150 before the cost of cleaning.
The following conditions will affect your cost:
- System Location: Expect to pay less for ground-mounted units and more for those on two-story houses given the safety measures and extra labour involved.
- Level of Build-Up: If you haven’t had service in several years, more work and supplies may be required.
- Size: A larger array will take more time to clean, adding to labour costs. A very small array will likely call for a minimum fee to cover the contractor’s costs.
- Proximity to Contractor: If you are a far distance from the contractor’s location, you may encounter a higher minimum fee than someone who lives within a 20-mile radius.
- Maintenance Agreement: You may have had the option to bundle a maintenance agreement with the purchase of your system. Bundling could lower your annual fee.
Choice.com are a leading consumer advocacy group in Australia, they outline how to check if your solar inverter isn’t working properly.
Many solar owners never go near their inverter, but CHOICE found that 20% of surveyed solar owners had experienced problems with it.
How would you know if there’s a problem? A simple health check is to look at the colour of the lights shining on the box during daylight hours when the system’s meant to be running.
A green light on your inverter means your system is functioning properly. A red or orange light during daylight hours means there’s a system event or fault.
In the event of a red or orange flashing flight, look for an error code on the display. Alternatively, you may be able to go to the inverter’s user interface via a web portal for an indication of the cause.
Furthermore, Finn Peacock from Solar Quotes provides advice on what to do in the case of a fault or error, stating “If there’s an error message, call the installer.”
Inverters can shut down due to a grid fault where the voltage is too high or too low, or there may be a problem with the earthing of the system. Another reason might be that the circuit breaker for the inverter has tripped.
More specifically, in the case of newer SMA brand inverters, a green light on the outside of the inverter means there is above 90% output (which is perfect). Below 90% and the light pulses.
Older generation SMA brand inverters may not have an online interface and may use a yellow light instead of a red one to indicate a fault.
The Victorian Government provide the following information regarding professional solar system checks.
Professional system check: Talk to your installer about performing a thorough check on your system every five years. If they’re not available then there are a number of businesses around that service and support solar PV systems, although check that they have Clean Energy Council Solar Accreditation.
The Clean Energy Regulator lists what should be looked at in a professional system check, including confirming that no parts have corroded, that switches are free of defects, that the wiring hasn’t been damaged, and that the inverter hasn’t recorded any faults, amongst other checks.
Some installers might recommend this type of check be done once a year and combine it with a detailed clean of the system. Whether or not you want this level of service, and peace of mind, is up to you.
Regular inverter check: Your inverter will be inspected during a professional system check to see that it’s operating correctly and that the heatsinks and ventilation grills are clean. Anything that impedes normal air flow through the unit might cause it to overheat in hot weather and reduce the life of the inverter.
However, you can also do some of this maintenance yourself, by making sure the inverter is free of dirt, dust, spider webs and even vermin. Check that the inverter is running normally, and talk to your installer about what error lights, or warning codes to look for on the display.
Whether your system is brand new or you’re looking to invest in a solar PV system soon, remember that a bit of care goes a long way to making sure your system saves you money on your energy bills for years to come. Do what you can yourself and make a schedule in your calendar, so the essentials don’t get forgotten.
As well as helping system performance, regular checks mean the system is safe for everyone at home as well any electrical workers on the distribution network.
- The amount of kilowatts of power being supplied to your house and/or the grid at that point in time (in kW).
- The amount of kilowatt hours of energy it’s produced so far that day (kWh). You should check this when the sun goes down.
- The amount of kilowatt hours of energy it’s produced in total since it was installed (kWh).