Solar Inverter Failure Causes…
An inverter is one of the most important components of a solar assembly. Often considered as the brain of the system, it is primarily responsible for the conversion of direct current into alternating current. This conversion is what makes the energy harnessed by the solar panels useful as it is converted into electricity.
After years of use, like other parts of the solar assembly, the inverter is prone to wear. It can exhibit several problems, including those we’ll briefly talk about in this article. A replacement can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $20,000. This means that replacement is quite expensive. Not to mention, it compromises the performance of the entire set-up.
There are several potential causes of solar inverter failures. Some of the most common include:
- Overheating: Overheating can cause a solar inverter to fail, especially if the unit is located in a hot environment without adequate ventilation.
- Power Surge: A power surge, such as a lightning strike, can damage or destroy the internal components of a solar inverter.
- Dirt and Debris: Dirt, dust, and debris can accumulate on the exterior of a solar inverter, causing it to overheat and eventually fail.
- Electrical Issues: Electrical issues, such as voltage spikes or drops, can cause the internal components of a solar inverter to fail.
- Component Failure: The failure of one or more internal components, such as a capacitor or transformer, can cause the entire solar inverter to fail.
- Software Issues: Software problems, such as a firmware glitch or a communication failure, can cause a solar inverter to shut down or stop functioning properly.
- Aging: Over time, the internal components of a solar inverter can wear out and eventually fail, especially if the unit is exposed to extreme temperatures or other harsh environmental conditions.
It’s important to have regular maintenance checks for your solar inverter to prevent failures and to address any issues promptly if they occur.
So, make sure that you are familiar with potential problems, and more importantly, what to do.
1. Wrong Installation
One of the most common inverter problems is that they are not properly installed. This is especially common when some people think of solar installation as a DIY task. Sure, this is one thing that most people can do, but are you capable? Do you have the necessary tools and knowledge? There are online guides available, but they may not be enough. It is most likely that you will end up installing the inverter the wrong way.
When it comes to the installation of inverters, one of the most important is to note that they produce heat when they are operating. Hence, they should be positioned somewhere well-ventilated. Otherwise, the components will overheat. If the temperature puts too much stress on the components, it negatively affects the overall performance of the solar system.
It is more complicated to determine the location of the inverter in a commercial facility, such as a solar plant. Several tests are conducted to determine the ideal location, such as a yield test. After picking a good location, it is also important to work only with competent installers to be confident that the system will work without problems.
2. Isolation Fault
Earlier, we talked about how proper location is important in the installation of a solar inverter. Without this, there won’t be enough breathing room, resulting in several problems, including an isolation fault. This is more common in humid environments. It usually happens in the morning, but as the moisture evaporates, the problem is solved. This can also be an indication that there is a short circuit. Wrong connections, especially of the DC cable, can also be the culprit. An isolation fault is common in areas near the sea because of the humidity.
The good thing about isolation fault is that it is easy to detect if such is the problem. It will be displayed as an error code, eliminating the need for a complicated diagnosis. When there is an isolation fault, the performance of the solar assembly is minimized, but this does not mean that it stops working. See to it that the cables used are of high quality and that they are connected securely. Proper installation is crucial to prevent humidity from being an issue.
3. Maximum Power Point Tracking Fault
Also called the MPPT, it is a module that optimizes inverter performance. This is a must-have in large-scale solar plants. The panels are connected through strings. However, several factors cause a fluctuation in their performance, such as angle and shade. To make sure that the performance is more stable, and the output remains the same, MPPT is a savior. Nonetheless, while MPPT helps, in some cases, it is also the source of the problem.
The best way to avoid MPP fault is to choose the right product. Consider the reputation of the manufacturer and read reviews so that you can’t go wrong with your choice. You also need to consider the number of cells in a solar panel and the total voltage to find a compatible MPPT.
Like solar panels, heat has an adverse effect on your inverters. This makes it important to maintain the proper temperature. An ideal environment is one that is not too hot or too cold. Otherwise, you will end up compromising the performance of the solar inverters. The more it works and the higher stress it experiences, the more it is prone to overheating. The inverters are made up of tiny semiconductors. When there is too much heat versus what the components can handle, they lose efficiency. Although this rarely happens since semiconductors are designed to handle even extreme temperatures.
The most logical solution to this problem is to choose a cool location for the inverter. There should also be enough air exchange. With proper ventilation, heat is more manageable, minimizing the chances that the inverter will fail. Proper spacing or clearance is also important, especially if you are installing multiple inverters as a part of a large solar assembly.
5. Failure to Restart
After a grid fault, the solar inverter needs to restart. This is especially a common problem in an area where there is an unstable power supply. If it does not restart automatically, then a service team must handle the situation as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the higher the loss will be.
If the solar inverter does not reset after a power interruption, chances are, it needs a hard reset. When the inverter is flashing yellow or red light, it is an indication that the system is not restarting by itself, and hence, intervention is necessary. This is done by first turning off the inverter, AC disconnect, electrical service panel, and solar disconnect box. After 30 seconds, turn on everything that has earlier been turned off. The inverter and the rest of the solar system should be ready by now.
A faulty inverter affects the performance of the entire solar assembly. It fails to generate electricity as expected – caused by wrong installation, isolation fault, and overheating, among other issues is crucial to determine the main source of problems and act accordingly. Otherwise, the efficiency and effectiveness of the solar set-up are compromised.