Do you have a solar generator, and everything has been working fine until recently? Whether you know a lot about solar generators or the basics, like that they need solar panels, sunlight, and a certain load before you can have an output, troubleshooting can get the best of you.
It can be hard to even figure out where to start, or what the problems are. Maybe something is wrong with the solar cells, or the batteries aren’t working correctly, but how do you know?
This article has you covered with solutions to your problem, no matter the case or series of generators you have. Below are the eleven top reasons your generator might be struggling.
Here are the 11 Most Common Solar Generator Issues
Solar generators need far less maintenance than gas generators, but that doesn’t mean they are perfect. Before you purchase a generator, always look at the reviews and any review articles about the generator and accessories you have in mind.
They can help you to learn more about common problems and potential solutions that people have found.
Many small issues can occur with solar generators, such as a breaker problem, something wrong with the connection to a solar panel, loose wires, or even a short circuit.
1. An Overheating Generator
Most of the time, your solar generator tends to run fine. Whenever the electrical components start to get hot enough to slow the performance, a little fan will run to vent off some of that heat.
However, sometimes something fails and the device overheats without any protection. This can lead to problems like damage to your electrical circuit or parts. It can also severely reduce your efficiency and cause it to permanently break if something isn’t done about the overheating problem.
The most common reason for overheating is due to something blocking the fan or the cooling system. To troubleshoot the issue, you may have to take apart the generator, or at least check out the area where the air comes through.
If it is dusty, you will need to clean it. A small paintbrush or cotton swab usually works best, but if you are going to be touching the electronics themselves, you will want to make sure that you don’t have anything that can cause static electricity.
Additionally, you will want to make sure the generator is kept somewhere that it is ventilated. While it can be inside, it needs to have some airflow around it.
2. Strange Sounds Coming From the Inverter
Sometimes inverters can make strange sounds too. Some noises are normal, such as something that sounds faintly like wind or humming, as this is the fan kicking in to cool down the system.
If the fan gets louder than normal, it is a good sign that something is blocking the fan. This can create a heavy motor sound, a whirring, or a whining. Clear out the area, especially the fan, for any dirt, dust, or debris.
If it keeps up, you may have to replace the fan. This is a simple process that only involves removing a couple of panels. You can look up information on how to do it in various articles to make it even easier.
You can confirm this is the issue by checking the temperature of your system. If it seems hotter than normal temperatures, then your system is likely not getting enough air. If it is too hot, you can turn off the inverter for a bit to reduce any chances of further trouble from the generator hitting its temperature range or limit.
3. A Fault Code on the Inverter’s Screen
Your inverter will tell you whenever something is wrong. Usually, even if your inverter is more basic, it will tell you that something is wrong with a red light somewhere on the device where a blue or green light normally occurs.
If you have a nicer inverter, it may be able to give you a code or tell you exactly what is wrong. However, simpler ones may just tell you that something is wrong.
The most common issue is something called an earth leakage fault, which is when water is getting into the system and leaching out power.
To confirm this is the problem, you can go through the manual that came with your solar inverter and determine what might be wrong. If you can’t find out what is wrong, you may be able to contact the inverter company as well, and they can walk you through their product and what may be wrong with generators that have a problem.
Customer service can be a help sometimes but may be hard to talk to, or they may not know all of the problems that can occur. This is why it is important to read any blog or questions about the products to learn what the quality is and other people’s experiences.
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4. A Fault With the Isolation
If your generator just isn’t working as well as it should, then it could be an isolation fault. This will primarily damage the inverter and happens when there is a short in the circuit somewhere.
This is usually due to improper installation, or something not sealed properly, which allows moisture in the system. If you live in a humid area, this is a very common problem, so it may be one of the first things to check.
Usually, if there is an isolation fault, you will see the inverter not working properly or perhaps not working at all. Additionally, isolation faults can lead to dangerous voltage levels, so handle the generator with care.
5. Battery No Longer Charging
If your battery isn’t charging, there is unfortunately no simple answer to what the problem is. There could be a fault in almost any part of the system.
The most common are broken or damaged fuses, a loose connection somewhere, a battery that needs to be replaced, or something burnt like the rectifiers that lead to a battery no longer charging.
You can check terminals and connections to make sure that everything is in place and doesn’t look damaged. Additionally, you will want to clean off any corrosion that has occurred.
If you are nearing the end of the cycles for your battery, it may be a good idea to go ahead and get a replacement, as that can tell you if the battery was the problem or something else.
6. Inverter Isn’t Installed Correctly
It is important that all parts of the generator are installed correctly. If they aren’t, then all sorts of problems can occur. The part that is most often installed incorrectly is the inverter.
If you think the inverter is installed incorrectly, then you can try to run it. Some of the tests you can try are a yield test, and regulation of the reactive power.
While it is best to have a professional install things correctly, sometimes they even mess up, or it is outside your budget. If a professional is installing it, double check everything is installed correctly before the installation is finished.
If you feel confident in your electrical abilities, you can fix it yourself fairly easily. But if you aren’t, look at your warranty with the installation company and see if they will come and fix it for you for free since it was their service that caused a mistake.
In the meantime, you will want to hold off on using your system, or it can cause some serious issues.
7. Blank Screen on the Inverter
Sometimes, the screens on inverters just break, even if the rest of the inverter is working fine. Sometimes, the LCD just gets burnt out or gets damaged due to too much sun, heat, or movement.
If your inverter is still working, which you can check by making sure you are using power that isn’t coming from your grid, then you can potentially keep running your inverter. Most of them have apps so you can just use the apps to get a read and keep an eye on your system.
It can be a bit of a pain to not have a way to check the inverter on its surface, but given the situation, it may save you money if you DIY it a little and just ignore the LCD panel until the inverter actually dies.
However, if the screen and the inverter aren’t turning on, you may need to restart the whole system. You may want to bring in a professional or talk to one on the phone to help with troubleshooting and restarting tips.
8. Unusually High Battery Voltage
High battery voltages are usually a warning that something is wrong with the charge controller. If you want to make sure that is the issue, you can check by removing the battery from the positive terminal, but keeping the PV array connected.
If the light stays lit on the charge controller, it is a good sign that something is wrong with the controller. If you want confirmation, you can measure the voltage from the controller. If the inverter is lit up green, that is another sign that something is wrong with your charge controller and it needs to be replaced.
The charge controller is needed to control the rest of the system and current, so it is important that your solar system has a working charge controller.
9. False Codes Reading on the Display Screen
If you notice fault codes appearing on your display screen that are incorrect or when no problems are occurring, this could be a simple glitch.
Glitches can be caused by either internal or external issues. Problems outside of the system include a loose wire or cable. Internal problems are usually more due to circuits.
While outside issues can often be fixed by yourself, internal circuits are much harder, and it is best if you hire a professional for maintenance and repair.
10. The Inverter Won’t Restart After Something Goes Wrong With the Grid
For the most part, inverters should be able to handle themselves. This means that after the grid shuts down because of any problem, the inverter should come back on. If it doesn’t, this may mean that another fault has occurred with the inverter.
If the inverter isn’t turning itself back on after the grid shuts down, there may have been another issue that occurred and damaged the inverter.
Instead of trying to turn on your system again, or make repairs yourself, it is a good idea to contact a professional to run a reset and reboot so they can do it safely and monitor the system for any faults or errors so they can catch any problems before they become a serious issue.
11. The Alarm is Constantly Beeping
If your inverter or your generator is beeping constantly without stopping, it can be a warning that something serious is wrong. This usually occurs if something is seriously wrong with the inverter, like the cooling fan isn’t working, or the inverter is overloaded.
If this beeping occurs without pause, it is a good idea to turn off your inverter and unplug everything to give it a break. While it is off, check the fan to make sure it can rotate and isn’t blocked by dirt or debris.
If it isn’t, your inverter might need to handle fewer energy demands at once, so look at unplugging some high-demand appliances.