How to Get Ahead of the 3G Network Shutdown

The Internet of Things (IoT) is facing an existential crisis. By January 1, 2023, millions of wireless devices will cease communicating when the 2G and 3G network shutdown ensues.

Every major US carrier will stop supporting 2G and 3G cellular networks. 

In addition to smartphones and tablets, this abrupt shift will directly impact every single wireless device that relies on legacy cellular bandwidth – including the millions of routers powering traffic lights, surveillance cameras, solar monitoring systems, smart TVs, and the general IoT ecosystem.

This guide explains why this shift is happening. It also outlines what steps solar asset managers and PV component manufacturers must take before the 3G sunset goes into effect.

What Is the 3G Network Shutdown?

Within the past year, AT&T, US Cellular, Verizon, and Sprint (now owned by T-Mobile) all independently announced that they would shut down the cellular infrastructure required to support increasingly outdated protocols, including:

  • Global System for Mobiles (GSM), is the primary technology that lets SIM-enabled smart phones wirelessly link to telecom networks. GSM is the global standard everywhere outside the United States (except for AT&T and T-Mobile).[i] This is often referred to as “2G,” but GSM also supports 3G data sharing.
  • Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) is the wireless communication technology used by Verizon, US cellular, and Sprint to power their networks. CDMA is used for devices (i.e. routers) that may not be equipped with SIM cards – including sensors and receives frequently used in solar PV systems. CDMA is often referred to as “3G.”

In place of GSM and CDMA, the major carriers will devote more resources to newer telecom standards, including:

  • Long Term Evolution (LTE) is the global standard for wireless 4G communications. Under ideal conditions, LTE can deliver upload speeds of 50Mbps and download speeds of 100Mbps.[ii]However, most LTE-enabled smart phones only serve data over 4G connections. Calls and text messaging (SMS) are normally done over 2G or 3G cellular, unless you use third-party apps like Facebook, WhatsApp, or Skype.
  • Voice over LTE (VoLTE), which is a separate 4G standard that allows users to search, call, and SMS exclusively using their data plans instead of consuming traditional cellular network minutes.

Why Are There Different Cellular Technologies (and Why Do They Matter)?

Like all technologies, mobile networks constantly improve over time as new innovations and breakthroughs emerge. However, these networks also evolve in generational leaps – with the upcoming 3G sunset designed to phase out the third generation.

Here’s a brief timeline of this evolution.

First Generation (1G)

1G was first launched in 1979 by Japan’s largest carrier, Nippon Telegraph, and Telephone (NTT). This generation had very limited coverage and poor-quality audio. Worse still, 1G offered zero encryption, allowing anyone with a scanner to eavesdrop on conversations.[iii]

Second Generation (2G)

2G (a.k.a. GSM) was introduced in 1991 with improved call clarity and encryption. The technology also made it possible to send SMS and media for the first time. However, 2G delivered slow performance, which only became worse due to surging consumer demand for cellular phones.

Third Generation (3G)

Developed by NTT and DoCoMo in 2001, 3G introduced a lot of breakthroughs in telecommunications, including packet-switching, which allows for larger file transfers and better sound quality. The newer CDMA standard also boasted data delivery speeds that were 4 times faster than 2G cellular.

The introduction of the iPhone in 2007 helped to accelerate 3G adoption. However, the world’s first commercially successful smartphone also lay the groundwork for the cellular standard’s eventual demise. Although 3G was faster than previous generations, it wasn’t equipped to handle high-definition multimedia – especially when streaming on-demand content from services like YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu on a phone or tablet.

Fourth Generation (4G)

First introduced in 2009, 4G has since become the default telecom standard worldwide due to its ability to send large amounts of data very quickly. It might have become the default sooner. But whereas migrating from 2G to 3G involves swapping out a SIM card, upgrading to 4G requires buying an entirely new LTE-enabled phone. In fact, anyone still using 2G or 3G devices will have to replace their own smartphones before the sunset goes into effect.

But the problem isn’t limited to handheld devices. The 3G sunset extends to the entire IoT – potentially impacting every wireless device in the country that relies on older cellular protocols.

Why Do Carriers Shut down Telecom Networks?

There are many compelling reasons why the industry supports introducing newer standards, including improved speed, security, and cost. Consumer demand is another major factor, with phone manufacturers and telecom carriers constantly looking to satisfy the public’s appetite for faster data transfers and higher quality streaming. There’s nothing more frustrating than having your favorite Netflix series suddenly buffer during the climax of a show.  

However, none of these reasons explain why carriers shut down older networks completely. After all, why not just leave them in place and provide wider coverage for more users?

The main reason is bandwidth. 

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) only auctions off a limited range of the broadband spectrum to telecom carriers. And these carriers must repurpose whatever bandwidth they have to support newer protocols as they emerge. 

But even if there were enough bandwidth, providing nationwide 3G, 4G, and 5G coverage simultaneously would require designing all new towers, routers, and devices to be backward compatible (in perpetuity). Aside from the sheer cost involved, legacy support for outdated protocols also introduces security vulnerabilities. If 1G was still supported anyone could listen to your phone calls with a scanner.

When Will 3G Shut down?

Every major US carrier has announced its own respective 2G and 3G network shutdown schedules:

  • AT&T has already shut down its GSM network. And it plans to follow suit with 3G in February 2022.
  • T-Mobile will discontinue 3G in April 2022, with 2G losing support in December of that same year. 
  • Sprint and Boost customers on T-Mobile’s network will lose 3G connectivity in January 2022.
  • Verizon will finally shut down its 3G network in December 2022.

By New Year’s Day 2023, no major carrier in the US will support the 3G standard or earlier.

What Devices Will Be Affected by the 3G Sunset?

For most users, loss of mobile support will be the first and most visible sign of the 3G network shutdown. But smartphones aren’t the only wireless devices that rely on cellular connectivity. This huge list also includes:

  • Home security systems and alarms
  • Medical devices and monitoring technologies
  • Solar revenue grade meters (RGM) and smart meters 
  • Solar monitoring systems and edge sensors
  • Smart fridges, TVs, and other home appliances
  • Electric vehicles and fleet management systems

Of the 80+ million Internet-connected devices that still rely on 3G cellular technology, RCR Wireless News points out that most are not ones that can be upgraded by swapping out SIM cards.[iv] 

Instead, every individual sensor and receiver must be replaced with newer router technology that supports the 4G standard or higher. These replacements must all happen before each carrier’s sunset deadline to avoid disruptions in connectivity. 

The actual impact of not migrating to 4G depends on the device in question:

  • On one end of the spectrum is the frustration you might feel when your smart TV can’t connect to the Internet. We’re very fortunate the 3G sunset didn’t happen in 2020 when everyone was stuck at home.  
  • At the other end of the spectrum are the serious risks posed when traffic management systems can no longer send and receive real-time data. With no more coordination among lights and signals, collisions would skyrocket – resulting in injury and death. 

With respect to solar power, residential customers might forfeit hundreds of dollars if their inverters no longer share production data or if their monitoring software fails to detect a performance dip. Those lost savings merely compound as the size of the PV installation grows. If you manage an entire portfolio of distributed solar assets, for example, you likely depend on hundreds or thousands of CDMA-enabled sensors and receivers to power the revenue grade meters in your solar portfolio. One day next year, every single one of those devices will suddenly stop sending and receiving data – all at once. 

The last (and still incomplete) 2G sunset was relatively easy. Moving America off the 3G standard will be far more challenging.

Managing the Migration from 3G

Exchanging cell phones is straightforward. You simply walk into a local mobile shop and buy a newer phone that supports the 4G standard. Swapping out the millions of sensors and receivers powering other “smart” devices will be much harder. 

And here’s why.

The average user has no idea where the wireless router exists in their smart TV – let alone how to access or replace it. Should they call the original manufacturer or a service technician? And will the latter be familiar with the router technology specific to that television?

The above dance must play out with every connected smart device dependent on 3G technology or older. This includes the millions of CDMA-enabled revenue grade meters, inverters, and monitoring solutions used to optimize solar power production and storage across the country. 

What about the Future of Cellular Networks?

The 3G network shutdown is fast approaching. But there will be future network sunsets as carriers make way for newer generations of cellular technology. At the moment, two of the most promising protocols are LTE Advanced and 5G.

Generation 4.5 (LTE Advanced)

Also known as LTE-A, this cellular standard is 2 to 3 times faster than 4G, with higher stability and less overall buffering.[v] LTE Advanced accomplishes this by using multiple antennas that can manage multiple signals – versus the 1:1 pairing normally done with 4G technology. 

LTE Advanced is a significant improvement over 4G. But because it’s not a generational leap, some industry insiders refer to the standard as 4.5G. Verizon already offers LTE-A to its customers – as does AT&T, which calls its own network 5Ge.

Fifth Generation (5G)

5G is 100 times faster than 4G, with data transfers of 20GB per second. Lifewire reports that this speed is the difference between downloading a 3GB movie in 35 seconds versus the 40 minutes required over a traditional 4G connection.[vi] And according to Medium, 5G receivers can simultaneously connect to 1 million devices in a 0.38 sq. mi. radius, allowing it to bear far higher data loads than previous cellular technologies.[vii]

Even better, 5G has a latency rate under 1 ms, which is how long it takes to send digital data from Point A to Point B. This is 250 times faster than humans can react to visual stimuli, which makes it possible to communicate over vast distances with virtually zero perceptible lag. This type of speed would allow a 5G-enabled traffic system to manage an entire city of autonomous vehicles – with less congestion and zero collisions.

5G technology is already here, with most carriers offering some type of support in their mobile plans. However, the technology’s true potential will likely become clearer as more devices connect to this newer standard. Multimedia consumption will certainly drive much of this adoption. But 5G is more broadly about sharing data faster and more securely to support the growing IoT ecosystem in a world with more smart devices and gadgets.

Conclusion

After many delays, the 3G network shutdown is finally happening – with tens of millions of connected devices losing connectivity in a single calendar year. This sudden shift has huge implications for society as consumers, businesses, and device manufacturers scramble to adjust to this new normal. 

If you have specific questions about upgrading any of the 2G- or 3G-dependent routers in the edge devices you manufacture or solar asset portfolios you manage, schedule a free consultation with us today.


[i] https://help.backmarket.com/hc/en-us/articles/360013348140-What-s-the-difference-between-CDMA-and-GSM-

[ii] Lifewire reports that these speeds are closer to 15Mbps and 30Mbps respectively for the average telecom subscriber – https://www.lifewire.com/how-fast-is-4g-wireless-service-577566

[iii] https://www.brainbridge.be/en/blog/1g-5g-brief-history-evolution-mobile-standards

[iv] https://www.rcrwireless.com/20190410/5g/the-3g-network-sunset-and-its-implications-for-iot

[v] https://www.4g.co.uk/4g-lte-advanced/


[vi] https://www.lifewire.com/5g-speed-4180992

[vii] https://medium.com/clx-forum/1-million-iot-devices-per-square-km-are-we-ready-for-the-5g-transformation-5d2ba416a984

The Short and Long Term Benefits of Solar Panel Cleaning

This guide covers everything you need to know about solar panel cleaning and when it’s time to bring in a professional service provider.

What Is Solar Panel Cleaning: a Quick Definition?

When sunlight hits solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, they convert the sun’s energy into clean solar electricity for homes, businesses, and communities. More sunshine means more electricity, which is why solar power is often associated with sunny climates like California’s and Spain’s.


However, this is only part of the equation.


The goal is to optimize the amount of sunshine reaching the solar panels. Professional installers factor this in when positioning and orienting PV modules. But maximizing sun capture also requires keeping the panels free of dust, leaves, snow, and other debris.


Your solar panels may require regular cleaning so they produce as much clean energy as possible. Doing so decreases your reliance on expensive grid electricity, allowing you to save more money and generate fewer greenhouse gases.

Is Solar Panel Cleaning Really Necessary?

According to a research study conducted by the University of Malaga, prolonged periods without rain led to dust buildup, which reduced daily solar output among PV systems by 20%.[i] These findings create a fairly strong case for regular solar panel cleaning.


However, other studies have reached very different conclusions.


A 2013 research paper from the University of California San Diego (UCSD) found that over a 145-day summer drought in California, solar panel performance fell by only 7.4%.[ii] Researchers further concluded that at current utility rates, cleaning a typical 5 kW residential solar installation would only save homeowners $20 off their electricity bill – which is substantially less than what professional solar panel cleaning normally costs. The panels in the study only lost about 0.05% efficiency on a daily basis.


In the words of Jan Kleissl, lead researcher of the UCSD study, “Most homeowners won’t get their money back for hiring someone to wash their rooftop panels.”


It’s hard to argue with such an exhaustive study. But it’s also difficult to ignore one’s own experience – like how leaving a dirty car out in the rain doesn’t automatically make it clean. In fact, carwashes are often busiest right after a heavy storm.


Our own analysis is that when done properly and at the right frequency, solar panel cleaning can help:

  • Maximize a PV system’s power output
  • Increase utility bill savings for owners
  • Deliver measurable carbon savings

Moreover, this cleaning is especially important if your PV system uses string inverters instead of microinverters. Both are responsible for converting direct current (DC) solar electricity into alternating current (AC) power for your home or business.

  • With string inverters, performance dips in one panel can have a huge impact on the other panels in the system – similar to old-fashioned Christmas tree lights strung up in series.
  • Microinverters make the DC > AC conversion at the panel level so that performance drops in one solar module are localized to that specific panel.
  • Although there are compelling reasons to clean solar panels, how often should washing occur?

    When Should You Clean Solar Panels?

    The most obvious indication that your panels need cleaning is when you see a decrease in PV system performance. It’s natural for there to be daily, weekly, or seasonal fluctuations in solar power generation. But prolonged and unexpected decreases in output is a sign that something is wrong. PV panel cleaning is the easiest and cheapest of all troubleshooting steps – which is why many customers start here first. If more drastic intervention is required, you may need to invest in solar panel maintenance to restore modules to former production levels.


    Some homeowners and businesses schedule periodic cleanings throughout the year – based on local conditions:

  • Cleaning panels after snow season makes a lot of sense in northern climates
  • Solar panel cleaning is also common during the end of autumn, when the leaves stop falling
  • The sam is true in late spring when pollen counts start to go down again

  • Those who live in arid solar hot spots like California or Arizona might schedule panel cleaning during the driest times of the year when dust buildup threatens system performance.


    Which frequency to choose for your own solar panels is ultimately a personal choice. But if you’re not generating the utility bill savings you were hoping for, cleaning your modules could help boost performance. This is especially true if you live in a region with excessive dust, pollen, pollution, foliage, or snow.

    Bird droppings aren’t something that easily washes off with rain – meaning solar panel cleaning may be unavoidable. The same goes for PV modules installed horizontally. Flatter solar panels tend to collect more dust, and thus, require more frequent washing.


    In addition, these cleaning requirements can grow considerably as the number of panels increases. Mega solar farms must constantly clean their modules as even minute performance dips can lead to huge losses when multiplied across thousands of panels.


    As a residential or commercial solar customer, you won’t have to stick to this same schedule. But it’s important you understand the potential benefits of giving your panels an occasional wash.

    How to Clean Solar Panels

    The most popular cleaning method involves using soap and a regular garden hose, which is particularly common among homeowners looking for cost-effective DIY options. However, this approach can often reduce total PV system performance due to streaking and leftover residues.


    If you’ve ever tried cleaning a window with soapy water, you likely already understand. Not only are the windows not truly clean when you’re finished, but the residue actually makes it easier for dust and pollen to cling to the surface. And unfortunately, rinsing with water isn’t enough since soap film can linger for a long time. This is basically the principle behind scented soaps. Their molecules need time to dissipate, which is why you always smell “fresh” after taking a shower or washing your hands.


    Fortunately, there exist several over-the-counter cleaning products specifically designed for solar modules. Some of the more popular ones include Glass Gleam, One Shot, and PolyWater– all of which are available at hardware stores and on Amazon. Most of these products use non-soap-based solvents that modify the surface tension of water to prevent beading. Instead, the water develops a smooth and continuous layer that helps dislodge dirt, dust, and pollen. These industrial products also have the added benefit of using less overall water in general – minimizing the environmental impact of regular panel washing.


    Many professional solar panel cleaners also have other tools in their arsenal – including deionized water. With this specially treated water, minerals have been stripped out using reverse osmosis, which is why it often goes by its other name, “demineralized” water. What’s left behind is a very pure form of H2O that acts as a magnet for particles.


    When demineralized water is coupled with a rotating brush, it’s possible to agitate and dislodge grime so that it washes away completely. Once the water evaporates, the panels remain free of streaks or residue. Deionized water is also chemical-free – a claim that even the most eco-friendly cleaning solutions can’t match.

    Common Mistakes When Solar Panel Cleaning

    Using soap is the #1 taboo in the industry. But below are some other common solar panel cleaning mistakes to avoid.

    1. Not Having the Right Equipment

    Most PV systems are rooftop installations, which makes solar panel access a real challenge. In addition to industrial-grade solvents, many professionals often bring ladders, harnesses, water tanks, and specialized poles and brush to make the job easier.


    The average homeowner doesn’t have all these supplies and safety gear – but that doesn’t stop them from trying. If you also decide to go the DIY route, just be sure to avoid using anything hard or abrasive that might damage your solar panels. For example, it’s common to use garden rakes to clear away snow buildup. However, be careful since the metal tongs can scratch your panels and void their warranties.

    2. Ignoring Personal Safety

    In addition to lower quality results, DIY solar panel cleaning increases the risk of accident and injury if you don’t know what you’re doing. Remember that it’s not just falling you have to worry about. Mixing water and high voltage electrical equipment is a dangerous combination.

    3. Cleaning on the Hottest Days

    Because of their dark surfaces, modern solar panels get hot very quickly when exposed to direct sunlight. And these higher temperatures mean that module surfaces dry faster than normal, which leads to streaking – even when using “streak-free” cleaning solutions. Moreover, the sudden shock of cold water hitting hot-tempered glass can crack your PV panels, potentially voiding their warranties. And you may need to pay out-of-pocket for solar panel repairs[WU4]. This is why you’re better off cleaning at dawn, dusk, or on overcast days to allow for slower and more even drying.

    Of course, the easiest way to avoid these mistakes is to outsource the job to solar panel cleaning companies that know what they’re doing.


    And here’s why.


    According to Q1 2020 data from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the average cost for residential solar installations is about $2.83/W – meaning a standard 5 KW system costs around $14,000.[iii]


    Your own system might be above or below this average. Either way, you’ve still invested thousands of dollars. And it makes sense to protect that investment – just as you would with scheduled car maintenance or dental cleanings. Regular upkeep is usually cheaper than emergency intervention.
    The question is – how do you find the right professionals for the job?

    How to Pick a Solar Panel Cleaning Company

    Many PV installers include solar cleaning as an add-on service. And if your original installer does too, working with them again is probably the easiest approach. Of course, this assumes the experience was positive the first time around – and you trust them to do a good job again.


    However, most solar installers don’t offer this service. And you may need to find a dedicated outfit that specializes in solar panel cleaning. If you choose this route, here are some important criteria to consider.

    1. The Method

    Always ask how they clean solar panels. You want someone whose method is:

  • Effective at boosting solar PV panel performance
  • Safe for the panels themselves (i.e, no scratching)
  • Environmentally friendly (i.e. no harmful toxins)
  • If they use soap or caustic chemicals to do the job, you’re probably better off choosing another solar panel cleaning service.

    2. Experience

    The barrier to entry for PV installers is very low, with many amateurs labeling themselves as “professional technicians.” For the much simpler job of solar panel cleaning, the bar is even lower.

    As such, it’s important you only partner with professionals with extensive (and verifiable) experience. More specifically, you want someone familiar with PV systems like yours since:

  • Solar carports, ground-mounted systems, and rooftop installations all call for different types of cleaning equipment
  • Residential solar cleaning teams tend to be much smaller than those used for commercial projects
  • Regardless of your own PV installation, the goal is to find a solar panel cleaning service that can complete the job well – with a few hidden surprises as possible.

    3. Geography

    The basic mechanics behind solar panel cleaning are fairly straightforward. But you still want someone local who understands the weather and climate conditions specific to your geographic region. That way, they can use the most effective method for whatever “accumulation” issues you’re facing:

  • Some regions (like the Rust Belt) are notorious for their high pollen counts
  • In the arid Southwest, dust and sand may be more pressing issues
  • In New England, you want a team that knows how to navigate snow
  • 4. Availability

    Unlike solar panel repairs, PV module cleaning usually isn’t a super urgent issue. But it’s still nice to have someone who is responsive and available. Just keep in mind that following pollen season, dry spells, and snowstorms, most solar customers in your region are likely facing the same issues you are. So be patient if there’s a backlog.

    5. Reviews

    As with any contracting job, it never hurts to check out honest reviews from previous customers. Most solar panel cleaning companies will happily provide you with “glowing” testimonials they’ve hand-picked. But be sure to research independent third-party sites like Angie’s List or Yelp for more objective feedback.

    6. Cost

    Every budget is different. You’ll need to conduct your own cost/benefit analysis to determine if hiring a solar panel cleaning service is worth the price. This, of course, depends on what the price actually is – and how bad your own PV system’s performance has become.


    Keep reading for a breakdown of what you can expect to pay for a professional cleaning service.

    What Are the Costs for Solar Panel Cleaning?

    Solar panel cleaning costs vary due to huge differences between PV installation sizes, system locations, module orientations, and the type of debris being cleared. According to the residential contracting portal, Fixr.com, the average price hovers between $150 and $330 for a small 2 kW residential solar installation.[iv]


    When it comes to solar panel cleaning service cost:

  • Some professionals charge flat rates – regardless of the PV system size or number of panels
  • Others charge on a per-panel basis, with an average of around $15 – $35 per module.
  • [v]

    If you clean your panels yourself, the only direct cost is water. But there are many potential hidden costs in the form of:

  • Personal injury risks
  • Reduced performance
  • Potential breakages
  • Voided warranties
  • Is Solar Panel Cleaning Covered by My Warranty or O&M Contract?

    Panel cleaning is almost never covered by manufacturer warranties. It is up to each individual to keep their own modules clean and in prime condition. Some installers include solar panel cleaning in their performance guarantees – or as add-on services. And you’ll need to read the fine print in your own agreement to determine if your PV system qualifies.


    The same is true for operations and maintenance (O&M) contracts. You would assume that regular cleaning comes standard with most of these agreements. But it’s best to read the fine print for exact details since every O&M contract is different.

    Conclusion

    Depending on where you live, DIY solar panel cleaning and occasional rain might be enough to keep your PV system in optimal working condition. But if you’re dealing with heavy accumulation or notice substantial performance drops, a professional provider might be the best option.

    It takes time to vet potential candidates – especially if this is your first time having your own system professionally cleaned. 365 Pronto’s Solar Operations and Maintenance Platform can help you quickly connect with experienced, knowledgeable, and affordable solar panel cleaning professionals in your area.


    To learn more, contact the 365 Pronto Team for a free platform demo.


    References:

    [i]https://www.irishellas.com/files/Analysis-of-dust-losses-in-photovoltaic-modules_2011.pdf
    [ii]https://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/pressrelease/cleaning_solar_panels_often_not_worth_the_cost_engineers_at_uc_san_diego_fi
    [iii]https://www.seia.org/research-resources/solar-market-insight-report-2020-q2“[iv]https://www.fixr.com/costs/solar-panel-maintenance#solar-panel-cleaning-cost“[v]https://www.fixr.com/costs/solar-panel-maintenance#solar-panel-cleaning-cost

    Solar Panel Repair: A Comprehensive Guide

    Solar panel repair isn’t something the average business or homeowner has on their radar. Photovoltaic (PV) technology is should be able to withstand:

    • Heavy usage
    • Power surges
    • Falling hail

    However, any number of things can (and will) happen to your PV panels over the 25 years of their warrantied lifetimes. Worse still, a surprising number of these issues technically lie outside the manufacturer’s warranty.

    A solar technician works to properly install solar modules on an angled roof.
    A technician works to properly install solar modules on an angled roof.

    If your own PV installation is dealing with issues that solar panel cleaning can’t resolve, this comprehensive guide will help you navigate the repair and replacement process – complete with information on:

    • Solar Panel Repair Defined
    • Common Solar Repairs and Issues
    • How to Repair Damaged Solar Panels
    • Costs to Repair Solar Systems
    • Who Is Responsible for Solar Repairs?
    • How to Pick a Good Provider for Solar Panel Repairs

    Let’s dive in.

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    Solar Panel Repair Defined

    Solar panel repair involves the full spectrum of fixes, upgrades, and replacements required to bring a broken or underperforming installation back online. In some cases, it’s just a single solar panel that needs intervention. Other times, technicians may need to repair or replace other components in the system, including inverters, batteries, or electrical wiring. This level of troubleshooting is often called “solar system repair.”

    But wait. Why do PV systems malfunction in the first place?

    Common Solar System Repairs and Issues

    With no moving parts, solar panels experience very little wear and tear. This is precisely why manufacturers can confidently ship their modules with 25 years of warranty protection. However, that warranty coverage doesn’t protect you from a laundry list of factors that can negatively impact your installation’s performance, including:

    • Falling debris
    • Micro-cracks
    • Shoddy workmanship
    • Power surges
    • Bird droppings and pests
    • Tremors and natural disasters
    Cracked solar panel on roof-mounted system can be easily replaced or swapped out by a qualified technician.
    Cracked solar panel on roof-mounted system.

    (For a full list of potential problems, be sure to read our companion guide on Solar Panel Maintenance).
    The other major components in the system also come with warranties, although they tend to be shorter. For example:

    • Batteries normally come with 5 to 10 years of protection
    • Inverters are covered from 5 to 12 years on average

    Then there are other parts like wires, switches, nuts, and bolts – all of which can malfunction – none of which normally ship with warranties. So even if your panels continue performing as promised, you’ll still need to bring in a technician to repair or replace various components as they reach the ends of their useful lifetimes.

    Section divider

    Can Damaged Solar Panels Be Repaired?

    The short answer is “yes.” There are solar appliances repair companies that specialize in fixing a range of PV components – including broken modules. However, there are a few things to keep in mind:

    • Solar appliance repair companies don’t always provide removal or re-installation services, so you’ll still need to find a technician to help with these steps.
    • Most broken panels go off-site for repairs. If you have a string inverter, one missing module could severely hurt your installation’s performance due to the way older PV systems are designed.
    • Sending your modules to a third-party vendor could void the original manufacturer’s warranty. But you might qualify for a newer (albeit shorter) warranty from the solar panel repair technician.

    Leaving a cracked panel in place may sound tempting. After all, it can probably still generate some power. However, exposure to the elements could lead to electrical shortages or worse if water seeps into the cracks.

    By contrast, replacing the module eliminates these risks. It also reduces the amount of time your system is off-line since a solar panel repair technician can remove the old module and install a new one in a single visit. Installing replacement panels often provides a power boost if the modules being added rely on newer technology.

    While repairing a broken panel is possible, it is not recommended.

    If you’re still on the fence, consider this blunt analysis from the Solar Engineering Group¹:

    "Once a solar panel is compromised; there's no way to fix it. While it will still work, you can't reach parts that have broken off... PV panels require the cells to be completely sealed to allow optimum performance. The only way to repair the damage for optimum output is to replace the panel."
    The best way to repair solar panel damage is to replace the panel.

    Costs to Repair Solar Systems

    Prices vary depending on the scope of the issue and which components require troubleshooting. The location of your PV system installation can matter. Ground-mounted solar panels are easier to access, repair, and replace than rooftop modules are.

    However, there are rough averages for the industry.

    1. Solar Panel Repair Costs

    According to the home improvement platform, Modernize, solar panel removal costs anywhere from $300 to $500 per module. If you are repairing a broken panel, the expected costs can be $200 to $1,000.

    The cost for replacement panels depends on current retail market prices. But according to Consumer Affairs, you should budget $200 to $250 per module. Labor costs are harder to pin down. But EnergySage estimates that when you combine labor and hardware together, you’ll spend $2.40 to $3.22 per installed watt. With most residential solar modules rated between 250 and 400 watts, this means paying between $600 and $1,288 total per panel.

    2. Solar Inverter Repair Costs

    According to the contracting portal, Thumbtack, you can expect to pay $1,200 to $2,500 for a new string inverter and $100 to $250 for a microinverter. However, you also need to add between $250 to $500 for labor.

    3. Solar Battery Repair Costs

    Batteries range from $5,000 to $7,000. But according to EnergySage, you can easily spend double this amount once you factor in labor costs.

    Section divider

    Who Is Responsible for Solar Repairs?

    It depends on the issue. If the panel itself is faulty, for example, the responsibility likely falls to the manufacturer. You should qualify for a free replacement module – although labor costs will likely be an out-of-pocket expense. However, all of this is assuming the original manufacturer is still in business, and thus, in a position to honor its warranty.

    Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.

    If shoddy installation workmanship is the source of the issue, one can make a good case that the installer is responsible for any repairs. This is especially true if that installer offers workmanship warranties or performance guarantees.

    However, you may want to think twice before working with that contractor again. If they did a poor job the first time, you could be setting yourself up for more disappointment. In addition, the installer may be more incentivized to fix the panel instead of replacing it – keeping costs low for them.

    This again assumes the original installer is still in business by the time you need help. If they don’t exist anymore, then neither does your protection.
    In all other cases, repairs and replacements will likely be out-of-pocket for you – the system owner. However, solar panel repair is not a DIY job since you’d be working with:

    • High-voltage electrical equipment (often grid-connected)
    • Permitting and utility approvals that require licensed technicians
    • Safety gear and harnesses (when troubleshooting rooftop systems)

    In addition, opening up the hood yourself potentially voids any warranty agreements you might still have. As such, handling repairs on your own simply isn’t worth the personal, legal, or financial risk.
    You’re much better off outsourcing the job to a professional solar repair technician.

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    How to Pick a Good Provider for Solar Panel Repairs

    There are many criteria to consider. But the most important ones are:

    • Experience and qualifications: given the safety concerns outlined above, you want licensed professionals with extensive experience in electrical engineering.
    • Speed and availability: finding someone to do the job on short notice can be a real challenge – particularly if there are warranty agreements involved. Always look for a service team that can do the job quickly and with minimal paperwork.
    • Transparency and pricing: you want a solar appliance repair team that offers transparent pricing with no surprises and zero haggling. This can be difficult since the average customer has no idea what solar repairs should cost. Thankfully, you do now.
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    Let Us Help You Find the Right Solar System Repair Team for the Job

    PV technology is marketed as a low-maintenance investment that delivers nothing but benefits for decades. But the reality is very different. Although solar is cheaper, cleaner, and more durable than nearly every other power-generation technology on the planet – it’s not immune to everything.

    If you’re facing issues with your own PV system, we can help. Our matching platform can quickly connect you with qualified, knowledgeable, and affordable solar panel repair technicians in your area who can help troubleshoot whatever problems you’re facing – from cracked modules to faulty inverters to dust build-up.

    Leaves and dust accumulate on a roof mounted solar systems causing ga reduction in output.
    Leaves and dust build-up can be easily removed with regularly scheduled solar panel maintenance.

    Use our solar matching technology to find the right team for the job. That way, you can go back to saving money and helping the planet as quickly as possible.

    To get started, schedule a free demo with us today.

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    Use Solar Monitoring to Ensure Optimal Peak System Performace

    Through solar monitoring, system owners can access their system’s performance anytime, anywhere. Photovoltaic (PV) panels run silently in the background as they generate free energy from the sun’s rays. This silent operation makes it difficult to tell how much energy is being produced or whether the PV system is even working at all. Determining this requires carefully analyzing utility statements – some of which only get sent out a few times a year.

    Inspecting monthly or quarterly electricity bills is impractical for the average homeowner. This is especially true with technology like solar PV that is heralded for being “maintenance-free.” Small business owners are often in the same boat. They realize solar is a great way to control costs – but not if those savings required directing time and attention to utility bills instead of to their actual businesses.

    This problem only compounds as the size of the PV installation grows. For example, manually checking energy production levels across a large-scale solar farm is essentially impossible. This is because each individual panel generates variable output every second, with some of the largest solar facilities featuring many thousands of modules.

    Faced with these challenges, PV power producers (and the installers who work with them) are increasingly turning to solar monitoring technology.

    What Is Solar Monitoring?

    Solar panel monitoring software basically “monitors” the energy production levels of PV systems. The process requires connecting solar installations to:

    • Sensors that can detect solar power output in real time.
    • Receivers that can transmit this data via router to Web-based dashboards, solar monitoring apps, or even to the utility-scale distributed energy resource management systems (DERMS) that grid operators use to monitor and stabilize the electricity network.

    Many modern solar monitoring systems come with notification support that alerts PV system owners whenever there are deviations in energy generation. With any solar installation, it’s natural to see fluctuations in power output throughout the day – or as the seasons change. Having solar activity monitoring in place provides users with a baseline against which to compare production levels across similar time frames (e.g. July of this year vs. July of last year).

    The emergence of machine learning technology now enables some monitoring platforms to automatically factor in real-time weather and cloud cover data when accounting for potential dips in output. Some solar panel monitoring software can also compare production levels of similarly-sized PV systems in the region to determine how closely one’s own installation is performing.

    The Benefits of Solar Monitoring Software

    For most homeowners and businesses, solar is an investment whose returns are measured in:

    • Money saved – in the form of reduced grid reliance and lower utility bills
    • Carbon offsets – thanks to fossil fuel avoidance and less pollution

    And as with any investment, the goal is to maximize these returns over the useful lifetime of the PV system, with most panels coming with at least 25 years of warranty protection. 

    Accomplishing this means occasionally repairing solar panels or some of the other PV system components whenever necessary. And monitoring helps achieve this by automatically sending alerts whenever the system detects sudden and unexplainable dips in power output. The user can then bring in a technician for any necessary repairs or replacements.

    However, protecting one’s solar investment also means using preventative maintenance to keep their PV system in optimal working order. Because scheduled maintenance is done yearly, minor issues can go undetected for as long as 12 months. This doesn’t mean that the PV system is necessarily broken. But long stretches of reduced output mean the user won’t generate the financial and environmental returns they were expecting.

    Here again, solar activity monitoring can help.

    Monitoring helps users quickly identify performance dips as they happen. And this allows them to bring in technicians to optimize their installations and help them reclaim lost utility bills and carbon savings.

    How Do Solar Monitoring Systems Work?

    Most solar PV monitoring solutions are sector-specific, with different tools available for residential and commercial customers vs. industrial and utility-scale power producers. 

    With most platforms, however:

    • The monitoring software is connected to the PV system’s inverter(s) using wireless sensors and receivers that communicate with the home or business’s WiFi router.
    • The monitoring system collects real-time solar production data throughout the day – allowing the owner to track output and verify that their PV system is performing as it should.

    As solar activity monitoring software evolves, however, newly developed features continue to expand with the technology can do.  

    Modern Solar Monitoring Capabilities

    Below are just some of the most recent features and add-ons that frequently come standard with many modern solar monitoring systems.

    1. Email and Text Auto-Alerts

    Auto notifications eliminate the need for PV system owners to regularly check performance statistics. Instead, alerts are instantly sent to the user whenever deviations in solar output are detected. Some monitoring solutions can also be configured to send performance alerts to installers. Doing so is a wise investment for PV contractors who offer service agreements or performance guarantees to their clients.

    2. Performance Tracking

    For those who do like to check the numbers, newer solar panel monitoring platforms come with performance tracking that shows historic data:

    how many kilowatt-hours were generated daily, weekly, annually – or even throughout the entire PV system’s operational lifetime?

    3. Panel-Level Monitoring

    Most solar monitoring solutions are configured to track system-wide performance, but some newer software platforms come with panel-specific monitoring capabilities. This level of granular control makes it easier to identify the exact cause and location of potential issues. Just keep in mind that panel-level monitoring requires installing microinverters for each individual module in the solar installation.

    4. Anytime-Anywhere Access

    Many of the earliest solar monitoring software solutions were only accessible via locally connected computers. As a result, one had to be on-site to check their PV system’s performance stats.

    However, most of today’s monitoring platforms now come with cloud access, allowing users to check their numbers from any Web browser. Many software solutions also come with dedicated smartphone apps.

    5. Solar Consumption Data

    Solar monitoring technology was originally created to track production data – i.e. how much clean energy a PV system generates across a given timeframe. But for optimal savings, it’s important users know how much of this solar energy they’re using on the spot, storing in on-site batteries, or sending into the grid. 

    This real-time consumption data is particularly important for PV system owners enrolled in programs like net energy metering (NEM) or feed-in tariffs. Both incentives reward users for any excess solar electricity they feed into the utility grid.

    Types of Solar Monitoring Systems

    Although all solar monitoring platforms are designed for the same purpose, they’re often categorized into three different groups (or types of providers).

    1. Monitoring from Inverter Manufacturers

    Manufacturers like SMA SolarEnphase, and SolarEdge all offer native solar monitoring support for their inverters. This service is typically free when using that manufacturer’s specific inverter technology.

    2. Monitoring from Installers and Panel Producers

    Some of the largest solar installers and panel manufacturers now offer monitoring support – including SunPower. In addition, those who own Tesla electric vehicles (EV’s) or its PowerWall storage solutions can now track PV power production levels through the company’s dedicated smartphone app

    3. Monitoring from Third-Party Providers

    The final group of solar monitoring providers is standalone software and hardware developers – most of whom neither manufacturer nor install solar PV technology themselves. These third-party providers specialize in-home energy monitoring systems in which the trackers and sensors are connected to the property’s main breaker panel. 

    Some of these third-party solutions use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to determine what portion of the electricity flowing through a user’s home is coming from the grid versus the PV system’s solar panels. CurbSense, and Emporia all fall into this category.

    There’s technically a 4th category of solar activity monitoring.

    Many utilities use DERMS software to collect real-time production levels from all the distributed energy resources connected to the grid – including intermittent ones like rooftop solar installations and privately owned wind turbines. These utilities often use AI-powered DERMS technology to help them track and manage terabytes of real-time production data across the grid to help make the entire electricity network more reliable.  

    At this scale, monitoring isn’t about detecting issues in any given panel or PV system. It’s about managing and optimizing the electricity grid as a whole.

    Potential Limitations of Solar Monitoring Software

    Solar panel monitoring was created to help PV system owners detect problems. But what if the monitoring platform itself faces issues?

    For example, IT glitches are commonplace in today’s hyper-digital world, with everything from phones to computers to “smart” toasters needing the occasional reboot or update. And the same is true with solar monitoring. The technology provides peace of mind, freeing users from the responsibility of regularly tracking performance stats. But it’s still important that users check in once in a while to make sure production levels are being captured accurately.

    An even bigger concern is the impending 3G Network Shutdown.

    Many of the routers, sensors, and receivers used to capture and send solar production data to rely on 2G and 3G bandwidth. But throughout 2021 and 2022, these devices will all lose connectivity as major US telecom carriers phase out support for older cellular technologies in favor of the newer 4G and 5G standards. In fact, any residential, commercial, or industrial solar monitoring technology dependent on legacy routers will need to be upgraded at some point before 2023 to continue collecting and sharing production data.

    Steps to Troubleshooting a Solar PV System

    What exactly should a PV system owner do if their solar monitoring software alerts them to a potential problem in the installation? It ultimately depends on the issue – and how the solar monitoring platform is configured.

    If the monitoring solution tracks performance at the panel level, it’s relatively easy to pinpoint the location of the problem. There might even be an error message indicating the exact type of problem – whether it’s a broken panel or slipped wires.

    If the monitoring solution tracks performance at the system level, identifying the location of the problem becomes more challenging. And installation owners may need to go through the DIY checklist below to pinpoint potential sources of the issue:

    • For most power-related problems, the best place to start is with the breaker switches in the electrical panel. More specifically, users should check to see if their own fuses are in the “off” position when they shouldn’t be.
    • Next, the user should check the inverter boxes. Steady green lights typically mean that the inverter is performing correctly. Red, yellow, or flashing lights normally indicate that the inverter is experiencing some kind of problem.
    • The final step involves checking the panels themselves for debris, fallen branches, dust accumulation, or excessive pollen buildup. Although washing panels can be a DIY job, be sure to read our longer article on why you should always bring in a professional cleaner that specializes in solar PV technology.

    If none of the above steps are enough to isolate the issue, the PV system owner will need to bring in a licensed professional to perform more detailed diagnostics. The average user should never attempt repairs, replacements, or optimizations on their own since doing so involves working with high-voltage electrical equipment. In addition to safety concerns, troubleshooting one’s own PV system could void warranty protections for the individual components in the system. And there’s also the very real possibility that maintenance performed by amateurs will only make the problem worse.

    This is why solar installation owners should always bring in a licensed and trained technician to source the problem, make any necessary repairs, and help restore the PV system to its full production capacity. 

    An Easier, Faster, and Cheaper Way to Repair Solar PV Systems

    Whether the goal is to save money or protect the planet, solar monitoring is an increasingly essential component of modern PV systems. However, monitoring itself can’t automatically fix issues. The technology can only detect them. And PV system owners still need to bring in professionals who can diagnose system-wide problems and implement the most appropriate solutions.

    However, finding the right technicians for the job can prove challenging. There is no guarantee that the repair team brought in to troubleshoot the system is experienced and competent in the technology-specific to that customer’s solar installation.

    And this is where 365 Pronto can help.

    Our software platform can analyze a PV system’s exact DNA – based on variables like location, size, components, and even local weather conditions. It then uses this DNA profile to instantly match each solar installation with the most appropriate service repair teams, regardless of the underlying problem – whether it’s a faulty inverter, dislodged panel, or glitchy monitoring software. 

    To learn how our solar matching technology can help make repairing PV installations cheaper, easier, and faster, visit our About Page today.

    Solar Panel Maintenance 101: The Fundamentals

    With few moving parts, solar photovoltaic (PV) technology suffers from less wear and tear than other power generation technologies. Solar has been known as a “set-it-and-forget-it” technology by manufacturers and installers alike. The promise goes that once installed, your PV system will silently generate electricity for many years – with virtually zero solar panel maintenance required.

    However, the reality is quite different. Although most PV panels sold in the US come with warranty protection that lasts for decades, the maintenance requirements are not zero. Keep reading to understand why.

    Common Causes of Solar PV System Damage

    Solar modules are incredibly resilient. But once installed, any number of issues can arise, including:

    • Dust build-up, snow accumulation, or excessive leaf cover

    • Cracks from hail, branches, and other falling debris

    • Shortages resulting from loose connections or faulty wiring

    • Delamination, oxidation, and internal corrosion

    • Hairline cracks stemming from seasonal and temperature variations

    • Hot spots from dirt accumulation or badly soldered connection

    • Panel slippages resulting from bumps, tremors, or faulty racking

    • Damage from rodents, birds, termites, and other common pests

    When you add in solar inverters, batteries, and wiring, these problems only become more pronounced. This explains why massive PV farms require constant solar panel maintenance as individual components malfunction. In fact, risk assessment firm, Wood Mackenzie, estimates that unplanned solar plant repairs could double from $4.5 billion in 2019 to more than $9 billion by 2024.

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    But even as a homeowner or business with far fewer panels installed, maintenance is an unavoidable part of “going solar.”

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    What Is Solar Panel Maintenance?

    Solar maintenance is a broad term that covers the full range of inspections, repairs, upgrades, and cleaning that PV panels require whenever performance-related issues occur.

    Servicing isn’t limited to “fixing” problems as they arise. Scheduled and preventative solar panel maintenance can help extend the useful lifetime of your system, with many panels lasting much longer than their rated warranties.

    What Is the Standard Warranty for Solar Panels?

    Most modern solar PV panels come with 20 to 25 years of warranty protection from their manufacturers. With this level of coverage, many solar customers enjoy a false sense of security once they decide to invest in the technology.

    However, there are a few important things to keep in mind:

    • Regardless of the quality, all solar panels degrade over time. Most warranties normally come with linear performance metrics that already factor this degradation into the equation. By year 25, your solar panels might operate at 79% of their original output.

    • These warranties only cover the panel itself, providing protection against defects or malfunctions due to shoddy workmanship from the manufacturer. This coverage doesn’t shield the panels from factors outside the manufacturer’s control – such as installation workmanship or cracks created from falling debris.

    • Solar panel warranties only have value if the company backing them is still in business when you face an issue. Module manufacturers can go out of business. Solyndra’s $1 billion bankruptcy back in 2011 is arguably the most famous example. Sunergy’s 2021 shutdown is only the most recent one. This is why you should always stick with high-quality components from reputable manufacturers.

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    How Often Do Solar Panels Need Maintenance?

    Solar maintenance frequency depends on the type of service required – preventative vs. emergency.

    Preventative Servicing to Maintain Solar Panels

    Due to the fact most solar panels are tilt mounted, they can stay relatively clean if you live in an area with sufficient rainfall. In drier regions, however, dust can quickly build up – requiring that you clean your modules several times throughout the year.

    A garden hose is suitable for most applications. But if in hard water areas, this can also lead to streaking and blotching, which may undercut each panel’s performance. To help reduce this problem, solar maintenance pros often use deionized water or commercial-grade cleaning solutions like PolyWater, Glass Gleam, or One Shot.

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    Regular solar panel and system maintenance can include panel cleaning to remove debris, dust, leaves, or animal droppings.

    However, there is considerable debate over how necessary solar panel cleaning actually is. According to a 2013 study by the University of San Diego, for example, PV panels only lost 7.4% of their total output over a 145-day drought. The analysis concluded that such a modest dip in performance didn’t justify the cost of professional cleaning. But paying to reclaim some of this lost output may be worth it if you live in a region that meets some or all of the following criteria:

    • Expensive grid electricity

    • Excessive dust and pollen – common in states like TX, LA, NC, and OH.

    • Poor solar radiation (i.e. low sunlight)

    Some solar customers also schedule checkups on a periodic basis. Doing so is strictly optional, and there is no consensus on how often these inspections should be. But scheduled solar module maintenance can help detect problems early on. And for many homeowners and businesses, this protection provides peace of mind.

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    Emergency Servicing to Repair Solar Panels

    Cracks, electrical shortages, and panel malfunctions typically require emergency intervention, with trained professionals who can assess and repair the issue as quickly as possible.

    As a PV system owner, you probably won’t be able to see these problems – especially if you have a rooftop installation that is difficult to access. With solar monitoring, however, it’s now possible to receive an automatic alert whenever your PV system’s performance dips below a certain threshold. This monitoring is synced to a smartphone app, which allows you to track your installation’s output remotely and in real-time.

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    Solar monitoring allows solar system owners to track the performance of individual panels – highlighting when some may need maintenance.

    Your utility statement might also provide clear indications that something is wrong. It’s normal to see slight variations from one billing cycle to another – especially as the seasons change. But a sudden spike in utility spending likely means that either your provider has raised its rates or that your PV system is underperforming.

    If the latter, you’ll need to bring in solar maintenance pros to investigate and fix the issue.

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    What Is the Cost of Solar Panel Maintenance?

    Solar panel maintenance costs can vary considerably – based on the level of service required and who is performing the job. For example, many PV installers offer performance guarantees, service agreements, or a combination of both:

    • Performance guarantees are factored into the total installation price, meaning the cost is basically “free” once your PV system comes online. But you’ll need to read the fine print since coverage typically only applies to installation labor and not to acts of God (like falling hail).

    • Service agreements are usually paid monthly or annually and provide more comprehensive coverage. But like manufacturer warranties, these agreements are only valuable if the original installer is still in business. In addition, many PV installers farm out projects to local contractors, which makes it harder to hold any single party responsible if something goes wrong.

    A growing number of dedicated solar module maintenance companies now offer one-off repairs or ongoing servicing. In most cases, these solar maintenance pros are not the same teams that originally handled the installation.

    Solar panel maintenance costs for these newer services vary. But here are some averages for the industry:

    • Solar panel cleaning is free (if you do it yourself). Otherwise, expect to spend a few hundred dollars annually when bringing in paid professionals.

    • The national average for solar system maintenance ranges from $300 to $700 a year. Note that these services often include cleaning in their packages.

    • Solar panel repair prices also vary considerably. Warrantied modules are swapped for new by the manufacturer, but it costs between $200 and $400 to pay for someone to remove the faulty panel and replace it with a new one. If the module isn’t covered under warranty, you can expect to pay an additional $0.75 to $1.5 per watt for a replacement panel. Fortunately, panel prices keep going down. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), for example, PV module costs have fallen by more than 70% over the past decade – with further decreases expected on the horizon.

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    How to Pick a Provider for Solar System Maintenance

    You could bring in the original installer to provide whatever solar modules maintenance and repairs are required, but this isn’t always an option if the installer in question:

    • Doesn’t offer solar maintenance

    • Is no longer in business

    • Did a poor job the first time

    Be prepared to expand your search. Below are some of the most important criteria to consider when shopping around for solar system maintenance providers.

    1. Are They Certified and Licensed?

    Work with certified solar maintenance pros who are licensed to work with PV technology and high voltage electrical equipment. Not only is this basic common sense, but failure to do so could potentially void any warranty protections your panels still enjoy.

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    365 Pronto technicians are vetter under our Three C’s of certification, compliance, and competence for all solar panel maintenance needs.

    2. Do They Have Experience with the Problem You’re Facing?

    You want solar maintenance technicians who know what they’re doing and can easily identify the most likely source of any issues you’re currently facing. Competency and experience are non-negotiable when servicing a system that costs tens of thousands of dollars.

    However, you don’t need overkill either. It doesn’t make sense to bring in the “A-Team” if dust build-up is the primary cause behind your PV system’s reduced output.

    3. Are They Available to Fix the Issue?

    This may seem like an odd point to include. But you’d be surprised how hard it can be to bring in truly qualified solar maintenance pros on short notice. Scheduling is especially difficult when demand is high – like during the busy summer months or shortly after major storms.

    However, every day that your solar installation remains offline represents lost savings. So, it’s important you find someone who can fix the issue as quickly as possible.

    4. Are Their Prices Transparent and Affordable?

    Some solar maintenance teams are more expensive – while others are cheap upfront. As a general rule, the sooner you can get your PV system serviced, the sooner you can go back to generating clean electricity from the sun.

    Conclusion

    Solar isn’t the “set-it-and-forget-it” technology you often hear about in marketing materials. But it’s very close – particularly when coupled with solar monitoring capabilities that can help you track your PV system’s performance automatically.

    With 365 Pronto’s streamlined platform, it’s possible to put your servicing needs on autopilot even more and know exactly what you will pay and what you will get upon ordering any service. There are no back-and-forth texts, e-mails, or calls. Whether for ongoing solar maintenance, scheduled cleanings, or emergency repairs, our matching technology ensures you connect with the right technician for the job – no matter how big or small.

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    The 365 Pronto Platform affords customers a one-stop-shop for all solar maintanence needs.

    To learn more, contact the 365 Pronto Team for additional information or a platform demo.