The photovoltaic (PV) system that you have or are considering purchasing should have an inspection every year as well as maintenance performed on the system. Consumers are led to believe that their PV systems are maintenance-free and that if there is ever a problem, the warranty will cover it. Unfortunately, not all of these costs are covered and the costs can be quite expensive. Pacific Islands Construction has found that when older systems are inspected, deficiencies found in the PV system could have been prevented if there had been an annual maintenance program. After adding up the repair costs and the loss of energy production that is not covered by the manufacturer’s system warranty, consumers promised savings are eliminated.
The following information will help consumers understand why Pacific Islands Construction provides five years of free maintenance with every system purchased:
Cleaning the surface
Solar modules need to be cleaned of surface dirt or debris that will lower their energy production and could cause their structural elements to deteriorate. Dust, salt, bird droppings, chemicals, etc. that find their way onto your modules’ surface will block the amount of sunlight reaching the modules’ cells, thus reducing your energy production. A loss of energy production means less savings. Airborne chemicals that sit on the modules can deteriorate metal components as well, especially where the anodized metal has been cut to fabricate the module.
Checking roof penetrations
Roof penetrations securing the PV system need to be inspected and maintained so that water does not enter the home through the roof and cause damage to the ceiling and contents underneath. Many systems are installed with poor flashing details around the roof penetration that secures a PV system to the roof. As a result, the materials used to waterproof these penetrations weaken over time and openings in the waterproofing develop, causing leakage. The resulting damage in your home was preventable and other issues like mold could have been avoided as well. Unfortunately, many PV installers have not used roofing industry-approved flashings, which could have prevented these leaks, and they also have voided the warranty from the roofing manufacturer.
Inspect the racking system
Racking system components need to be inspected to ensure that everything is secure, so that the system will hold the modules in place during high winds. During the inspection, any defects in the components holding the modules in place that have become loose or are missing can be rectified. The PV system and structure of the building are constantly moving because the heat of the day causes expansion. Metal expands at a greater rate than other building components and the stress that occurs between the various components can loosen or cause changes to the construction.
The cabling that resides on the underside of the modules and connects to the micro-inverters, or runs from the roof to the string-inverters, needs to be secured so that it is not on the roof or prone to brushing against the roof with the wind. Damage to these cables can be prevented during the inspection by re-securing them. Any arcing in the connectors or electrical problems may be detected during that time as well, before they become a major problem.
Inverters work better when they are clear of dirt and dust that tend to make them operate at higher temperatures. Once cleaned, inverters will be more efficient and they will last longer because they are operating at a cooler temperature.
Peace of mind
Knowing that your system is being maintained and that potential problems are being avoided will give you peace of mind. A PV system that gets a healthy checkup and is performing optimally will provide greater savings and last longer.
For more information, call Pacific Islands Construction at 841-7756.