While we get a constant stream of calls for defective solar systems all through the year, we tend to see a different faults at different times of the year.
This time of year we have a lot of calls from customers who have have ‘isolation faults’. Some inverters call them RISO faults or ‘earth faults’ and this is usually water ingress related and some of the DC power is leaking back to earth. The most common reason is water in the roof top isolator. (Those of you with a solar system would be hopefully aware of the white box on the roof that contains a switch). Most people though, wouldn’t be aware of how problematic that little box can be over time as they age. If enough water gets in that device, they can potentially cause a fire. Quite often though, once a small amount of water gets into the isolator they will go into fault. Isolation faults can sometime be hard to diagnose as when wet they go into fault and when they dry out the fault goes away.
But, that’s not the only way we can get an isolation fault. A few years back it was mandated that we use stainless cable ties to support the cable and these are razor sharp and over time can cut into the DC cable insulation and with a bit of water in the mix trip the inverter out with an isolation fault. In the case of a transformerless inverter if it’s the positive lead bought into contact with earth it can blow the power stacks which means a new inverter.
DMS Energy uses a lidded duct to support the cables and not stainless ties so we never see this problem but we seem to fixing quite a lot from all the cheap systems as using stainless ties is the cheapest way possible to meet the installation regulations but definitely not the best.
Lastly the panels themselves can suffer delamination which is when water gets into the layers that make up the panel and cause an isolation fault. Not as common as the other two but as some of these cheap and nasty systems get a bit of age on them the low quality panels the sellers used to be the cheapest price in the market are breaking down and beginning to fail. This failure usually results in a complete system replacement. In Tasmania, there are so many of these cheap and horrible, orphaned systems and most were sold by True Value or Euro Solar; both of whom have disappeared into the night but the people who operated these companies still trade using different business names and different Australian cricketers to promote their products.
When we get called to these sites, it’s horrible to have to tell the client they have no warranties on the product as all the players have either closed the doors, changed names or left the country.
When the weather warms up and the days get a bit longer the faults tend to change from isolation faults to failed inverter and melted connections. With more sunlight, the solar systems are working a lot harder and this is when the inverter finally falls over. Or, that poorly crimped connection starts getting hot and forms a high resistance joint and melts something.
The cheaper panels can develop hot spots and break the glass but once again this is just another high resistance joint but this one forms inside the solar panel.
So, the reason why we talk about these things is to remind people solar systems are not maintenance free and require some attention every few years. The best case scenario if something goes wrong is a little red light pops up on the inverter telling you there is an error. The worst case scenario: there is a fire.
Now, these negative outcomes have always been a possibility so that’s why DMS Energy are very careful about the products we use and recommend to bring to market.
We only buy solar panels from diversified multi billion dollar turnover corporations. Most of our panels have a comprehensive full 25 year product warranty which shouldn’t be confused with the power output warranty which is largely a smoke and mirrors warranty. So, always look for what the product warranty is. Even then, for example, our LG panels offer a 25 year product warranty that covers labor and freight while our Q.CELLS Q.PEAK 25 year warranty excludes labor and freight in some instances.
As we mentioned before, we use duct to support the cables as this removes the need to use sharp stainless cable ties.
For the roof top isolators, we don’t use plastic boxes that rot in the sun, we use aluminium housings that are UV proof, rust proof and designed to last 25 years.
Finally, for our inverter system, we use the SolarEdge system where it’s impossible to have any roof top fires, we can see every panels output and operation, and if something goes wrong it automatically shuts that part of the system down and emails us to let us know what the problem is, where the problem is and we only have to roll a truck to actually attend the issue not diagnose it. 90% of the time we know there is an issue before the home or business owner does. This is free asset management for the life of the system and due to the long warranty periods on our products generally at no cost to the customer for at least the first 12 years. The product manufacturer pays DMS Energy for our time and supplies the replacement parts in the unlikely event something were to ever stop working as it should.
When you invest in a solar system from DMS Energy you are not just investing in a product you are investing into a relationship with a 13 year strong local company and who intend to be here for the life of the products we sell and service.
So to round off today’s thoughts, if you have a solar system mouldering on your roof that no one’s looked at since the day it was installed, give DMS Energy a call. If you want a high quality, monitored and supported solar system, call DMS Energy, using only the world’s best components that we have tested and used for years, from some of the worlds biggest manufacturers such as LG, Q.CELLS and SolarEdge, it’s as risk free as it can possibly be.
Servicing the entire northwest coast DMS Energy we have done the research so you don’t have to and pop into our showroom at 56 Sheffield Rd in Spreyton to see these products as working displays and powering and heating our site.