Inverters are a key component of any solar power system, and their failure can lead to a number of problems. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the common solar inverter failure causes, as well as how to handle such failures when they occur. This will help you ensure a PV installation is always running, and that you do not incur unnecessary costs to fix or replace the inverter.
Why do Solar Inverters Fail?
Solar inverter failure can mean a solar system that is no longer functioning. Of course, the first step when that happens is to determine what has caused the system to fail. However, it’s also important to know how you can protect the system from future failure. Check out these 6 causes of solar inverter problems and how to prevent them.
Inverter Grid Fault
Although only seen in grid connected systems, this is one of the solar inverter failure causes that you need to know about. If there is a power outage or grid fault, your solar inverter will shut down to avoid damage. But sometimes it doesn’t.
To prevent this from happening, make sure that your grid-tie inverter is a high-quality one that comes with the technology to protect itself from damage by electrical faults. That said, this problem is most common in areas with unstable grids.
Poor Inverter Ventilation
If an inverter is not properly ventilated, it can overheat and fail. Adequate ventilation is important for all types of electronic equipment, but it’s especially crucial for solar inverters because they tend to generate a lot of heat.
Poor solar inverter ventilation may result from a number of factors, such as a lack of space or obstructions in front of the device. Blocked ventilation, whether by dust or dirt, or other debris, is a leading cause of inverter overheating and failure.
Make sure that your inverter has enough space around it (about 12” clearance) and that there are no obstructions blocking the vents. Also, regularly clean the area around the inverter to remove any dirt, dust, or other debris.
Inverter Capacitor Failure
A capacitor is designed to store energy and release it when needed. Inverter capacitors play a crucial role in the proper functioning of solar inverters by smoothing AC output, among other functions. If the component fails, it can cause the whole system to malfunction.
Capacitors fail due to heat mostly, and inverters are heat producers. In addition, they are among the inverter components with the shortest lifespan, given their construction and location inside the inverter.
Inverter capacitor failure can make you solar system to suddenly stop working or start exhibiting other unusual behavior. Proper inverter maintenance helps to keep this problem at bay. You may also want to have a professional inspect your system to check for capacitor damage.
Faulty Inverter MPPT
The maximum power point tracker (MPPT) is a key component of solar inverters. Its purpose is to optimize the flow of power from the solar panels to the inverter. If the MPPT is not working properly, the result is inverter failure.
One way to tell if your MPPT is failing is by monitoring your system’s power generation levels. If you notice your solar panels are producing less energy than usual, this may be an indication of a faulty MPPT and, therefore, a failing inverter.
Poor Inverter Maintenance
Like all electronic equipment, solar inverters require regular maintenance in order to function properly. Lack of proper inverter maintenance can lead to a number of problems that can eventually cause the inverter to fail. There are various practices that will help your invert to stay in good condition.
One of them is regular cleaning. Inspecting the inverter for loose or damaged parts, too. Clean the area around your inverter and check all of the connections to make sure they are tight. You should also have a professional inspect your system on a regular basis to ensure that everything is working properly.
Humidity is one of the most common solar inverter failure causes. However, it’s also one of the easiest to avoid. Humidity causes a variety of problems with your solar inverter electronic components, leading to reduced lifespan.
A solar inverter isolation fault is another common failure that moisture can cause. An isolation fault simply means a problem that’s caused by short-circuiting, often because moisture found its way into the inverter. Other causes include damaged or loose wiring.
The best way to prevent humidity from damaging your inverter is by keeping it in a cool, dry environment. You should also avoid placing the system near sources of moisture, such as a pool or fountain. Additionally, regularly check the area around your inverter for signs of moisture.
How to Handle Solar Inverter Failure
You know the most likely solar inverter failure causes and how to avoid them. But how do you handle a failure that has already happened? Here is a list of the steps when you have a broken or failing inverter in your solar system.
1. If your solar inverter has experienced a failure, it’s important to act quickly in order to prevent further damage. The first step is to contact a professional for an inspection and repair or replacement.
2. In the meantime, you can take steps to minimize any additional inverter problems, such as unplugging all devices from the AC outlets and avoiding the use of any other appliances or electronics connected to your solar inverter.
3. Check the inverter for error codes or lights. A solar inverter fault light or error code tells you something is amiss. Use your manual to find out what the problem could be.
4. To prevent future solar inverter failures, take steps to optimize system performance and reduce overall wear and tear on your solar inverter. This may include cleaning or replacing dust filters, and monitoring power output levels.
5. Make sure that your inverter is installed in a well-ventilated area and that there is nothing blocking the vents. Follow all recommended maintenance procedures for your system. This may include checking, cleaning, and replacing parts as needed on a regular basis.
6. Additionally, it’s important to stay up-to-date with new developments in solar inverter technology so that you can keep your system functioning at its best. With proper care and attention, your solar inverter should continue to provide you with many years of reliable service.
Solar inverter failure can be a major setback for any solar system. However, by understanding the potential causes of failure and taking steps to prevent them, you can protect your investment and ensure that your solar system continues to work properly for years to come.