Solar PV systems
Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems are like any electrical equipment that need to be regularly inspected and maintained for safe and efficient use.
Regular maintenance should be done according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
While some general maintenance can be completed by a competent person who has experience with solar energy systems, they cannot perform electrical work. Maintenance that involves electrical work or electrical installation must be performed by a licensed electrician.
Never attempt electrical repairs yourself.
Contact your electrician or solar installer (who must be a licensed electrician) for full maintenance, or to repair any damage to the solar panels such as cracked panels, loose fittings or exposed cables.
Maintaining solar panels
Cleaning solar panels
Keep solar panels clean so they operate efficiently and safely.
Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when cleaning solar panels. A competent person (preferably your licensed electrician, or a person under the supervision of a licensed electrician) should:
- inspect the panels for any damage before cleaning them
- use water, not cleaning products
- not use scourers or other abrasive cleaners
- avoid using high pressure water cleaners
- not rest buckets or lean on the panels.
Any damaged panels or damaged other parts of the solar PV system should be repaired or replaced by a licensed electrician before cleaning occurs.
Things to check
To keep your system operating safely you can routinely check (from a safe distance) some basic things, particularly after a storm. If you notice any issues call your electrician or solar installer.
- Visually check panels for cracks or chips in the glass, discolouration or other obvious defects.
- Visually check the panels and supporting frames have not come loose and are free from debris.
- Visually check the fittings and cables at the panels and the inverter haven’t broken loose.
- Review the inverter display panel for any recorded faults (refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for advice).
- Check that emergency procedures for shut down and isolation are clearly displayed.
- Make sure that the cooling vents of the inverter are clear of debris.
- Ensure easy access to the system isolator switches.
Download the inspection and maintenance checklist for more information on what should be checked and why.
When conducting visual checks:
- keep away from overhead powerlines near the solar installation take care working on ladders or at heights
- cut back trees and remove structures that cause shading of the panels (shading can reduce the efficiency and safety of the panels).
Frequently asked questions - solar inspections and maintenance
- What will happen if I don’t maintain my solar system?
Electrical equipment that is constantly exposed to the weather degrades over time. Queensland experiences harsh UV which makes equipment degrade faster. Not maintaining solar energy systems may affect their performance and result in electrical failure which can cause electric shock or fire.
- Is it a legal requirement to have my solar inspected?
As a homeowner there is no legal requirement to have your solar inspected and maintained. However, it makes sense to have your system checked to prevent electric shock or fire and ensure the system is performing at its best.
Owners of an electrical installation are responsible for ensuring that it does not pose a risk of shock or fire.
- Who can perform solar inspections and maintenance work?
In Queensland, maintenance that involves electrical work must be done by a licensed electrician. Check your electrician is licensed.
Some parts of the inspection and maintenance don’t involve electrical work and can be performed by a competent person who has experience with solar energy systems. They can provide inspection results to your electrician to perform any electrical work.
If the competent person doesn’t have electrical knowledge, they might not be able to identify everything that needs maintaining on your solar system. Therefore, it’s best to use a licensed electrician who has experience with solar energy systems.
- Do I need to use an electrician who specialises in solar?
Any licensed electrician can work on solar energy systems in Queensland. However, it is recommended to find an electrician who regularly works on solar and is also accredited by the solar industry association accreditation scheme.
- Can I do the solar inspections myself?
Accessing your roof is risky. You can do some visual inspections from the ground, and a competent person, aware of how to assess the risks, can clean the panels. However, unless they have electrical knowledge, they will not be able to identify everything that needs maintaining. Therefore, for a detailed inspection, it’s best to use a licensed electrician.
- What if an electrician finds something wrong with my solar?
Your electrician will let you know if they find any issues with your solar during an inspection. They may offer to fix these issues and provide you with a quote to do this. If there is an immediate risk of electric shock or fire, they may need to disconnect the system temporarily.
- My solar is old. Should I just replace it?
Talk to your electrician about the condition of your current solar energy system, and whether it’s functioning as it should. You could get quotes for new systems and compare this to the cost of fixing your existing system.
- How often should solar inspections be done?
Talk to your electrician about the recommended inspection frequency, as they have knowledge of your solar energy system and the surrounding environment. As a guide, solar energy systems should be inspected annually, after storms (if your visual check identifies damage or if the inverter operating system shows a fault) or according to manufacturer requirements.
- What needs maintaining?
Your solar installer should have given you maintenance information when the system was first installed. We also have a checklist that electricians can use. Key things your electrician will check include whether there is any damage to components, testing to ensure safety switches work properly, ensuring the system is firmly fixed in place and making sure vegetation isn’t impacting the system.
- What do solar inspections and maintenance cost?
The cost of inspecting your solar energy system will depend on the circumstances including the size of the system, how accessible it is and how far the electrician has to travel. Maintenance costs will depend on the age, size and condition of the system. Get multiple quotes before engaging an electrician to make sure you’re paying a fair price.
- What if my solar is new?
Even if your solar energy system is brand new, you should start thinking about future maintenance. That way, you can put money aside, and set a reminder when your first inspection is due. Talk to your installing electrician about a maintenance plan.
- What maintenance records should I keep?
Keep a copy of the maintenance checklist completed by the electrician for your solar energy system. You should keep this with your warranty information as it may assist you with any future claims, or if you’re selling your property.
Refer to the following links on selecting the right system for you and finding a qualified installer: