Unfortunately "Maintenance Free" is an expensive illusion.
Once your system is installed we ensure that it keeps operating at peak performance. Batteries, Panels, Inverters, Cables and Junction Points should all be checked at specific intervals.
Recently I was discussing Battery Charging Programming with one of our Suppliers. He said that he knew of a system that had a large bank of batteries installed that had failed in just 18 months due to incorrect programming of the charger. A regular and thorough maintenance program would have caught this problem in time to save the batteries.
PV panels are particularly likley to be overlooked. Two things that will severly reduce the output of your panels are dirt and shading. often both of these come from trees in the form of pollen and growth. Keep an eye on your Panels (especially during Winter) to make sure they are clean and fully exposed to the sunlight. Because of the configuration of solar panels, if you shade just 10% of a panel it will reduce it's output by up to 95%!
This is a picture of pollen build-up on an array after just two years of service. A simple brush with soapy water is sufficient. We clean your panels just before winter because that is the season when you need the maximum power (especially for Off-Grid and Grid-Interactive Systems)
At S4SOLAR we run three different Maintenance Contracts:
Grid-Tie Systems Smaller than 10kWp. Yearly Customer Call to Check Panels, Check Output, Check Inverter. $149/year
Grid-Tie Systems Larger than 10kWp. Yearly Visits, Clean Panels, Check Output, Check Inverters, Daily Remote Monitoring & Fast Fault resolution (if monitoring hardware is installed), $19/kWp/year
Grid-Interactive and Off-Grid Systems. Yearly Visits, Clean Panels, Check Output, Check Inverters, Battery SG & SOC Check, Daily Remote Monitoring & Fast Fault resolution (if monitoring hardware is installed), $129/kWp/year