Friday, September 30, 2016

How To Tell If You Have a Failed Microinverter On Your PV System

So you suspect that you might have a microinverter or 2 that is not reporting?

This is a simple way to "fact check" it.

Select the screen as shown below "Energy: Past 7 days" That is the key!

And speaking of "Pteradactyl Poo" what should you do if your panels are dirty?    First off DO NOT pressure wash them.   We recommend a thorough cleaning and inspection every 2 or 3 years, there is no need to get carried away with too much cleaning.    But if you live in an area where construction is going on, or people are spray painting their houses...dirt or overspray is going to build up.

We offer a "Solar PV Tuneup" the cost is based mainly on how many panels you have.   A description of the service is HERE

So you suspect that you might have a microinverter or 2 that is not reporting?

This is a simple way to "fact check" it.

Select the screen as shown above

"Energy: Past 7 days"

If all of the inverters report about the same energy, then you are good to go.   Keep in mind that for a different angle of roof, they will have different energy production, but all on the same slope of roof should be about the same.   

If one is completely black (no energy production), then it is quite likely that the inverter is dead.    But they also get partial failures as they are in the process of failing, those show some energy being produced, just not as much.

Also, if you have one of two showing less energy, take a step back and look at the roof.   Do you have a tree that grew up and is blocking?    Maybe a leaf or debris blocking a panel, maybe a Pteradactyl poo?   

A small blockage on a panel can result in not just a large loss of energy production, but instead of energy out, you get heat into the panel and that can cause a quick death of the panel itself.------------------------------------------------
What causes inverters to not report data consistently?    Simple answer but not always a simple solution.

The answer is that noise and distance on the power line (the 120 Volt AC and 240 Volt AC circuits) can prevent the microinverter from talking to the EMU/Envoy.     They communicate over the power line.   

You can check the quality of the communication by first going to devices, above.   And then clicking into the "Envoy"

It's hard to see here [see images above], but there are 5 bars available.    This system only has one bar, so the microinverters can't "talk" that well.   

The noise varies throughout the day, as appliances, motors, battery chargers, laptops are turned on and off.    So sometimes the communication is good enough, and the microinverters "dump" all their saved up information to the EMU/Envoy.

If you have any less than 3 bars of communication, Enphase (the manufacturer of the microinverter) will not entertain issuing an RMA and thus a warranty claim.     They used to be more flexible, but they are getting tougher.    

How does one improve the communications?   As one of my college professors loved to say....."That is beyond the scope of this course".    But see link in the text below.