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How to Create a Solar Preventative Maintenance Plan for your Facility

Tips and best practices so your preventative maintenance plan supports your solar asset's warranty requirements.

 

Once your solar PV system is completed, commissioned, and the utility has granted your facility the Permission to Operate, your business needs to create a preventative maintenance plan to monitor your solar PV asset periodically for atypical operations and production. Physical assessments paired with regular, qualified inspections of your production data via your monitoring platform will give you a stress-free set of instructions to follow for ensuring the health of your system for years to come.


One of the best places to start when creating this plan is to review the project documentation supplied by your solar provider at the time of project completion. There you should find the installation and inspection records from the installation, as well as the user manuals for your solar equipment. Most solar equipment manuals contain a special section with a detailed outline of the manufacturer-specific preventative maintenance tasks required to maintain the equipment’s warranty.

 

What should a Solar Preventative Maintenance and Monitoring Plan include?

Once you have a good understanding of the preventative maintenance tasks outlined in your equipment manual, you will want to:

  • Make a schedule for periodic site walks/inspections. Keep in mind your facility access schedule and the existing facility maintenance rounds already in practice so this task is convenient for team members to complete. This should include a regular cadence for inspecting the plant via your monitoring services. Dictating the cadence will prevent slippage when the responsibility passes from employee to employee.

  • Create documentation procedures so the date, time, and any observations from these inspections are recorded. This log is incredibly helpful should you ever need to file a claim with your manufacturer for an underperforming or failed component. Even casual observations can be the key in diagnosing any irregularities in the system.

  • Ensure a stable connection to your array’s data-logging equipment exists. A solid monitoring/communication circuit is essential. Ideally, your solar provider hardwired the communications circuits, as a disconnection can happen quite suddenly and can be hard to catch unless you inspect your portal frequently. Disconnects can occur for a variety of reasons including changes to your network infrastructure, breaks in the cabling, and sometimes even desynchronization between the monitoring equipment and your inverters.

  • Review your monitoring portal and train other users on its features. It is important that you or your service provider be familiar with your monitoring platform and the tools it provides. In many cases, errors or production deviations can be properly diagnosed and sometimes resolved by proper utilization of the monitoring platform.

  • Set your facility up for success by enabling the notification features of your monitoring platform. Nearly all inverter manufacturers have a monitoring platform or application that can be accessed from any device.

  • Utilize the contact information provided by your installer for technical support if you have questions. If you come up with a question that is not covered in the system’s documentation, don’t hesitate to reach out to technical support for guidance. This resource should provide you and your team with prompt instruction and help you learn more about your system over time.

If you need a PV technician, what kinds of information should be captured prior to arrival?

With even the most carefully curated preventative maintenance plans, it’s possible for components to experience sudden and unexpected failures which require maintenance. Pictures or screen shots of any signs of damage, error codes, or changes in the production curve or values help your service technician begin the troubleshooting process and offer the best chance for an expedient solution.

Key Takeaways

While photovoltaic systems generally require much less maintenance than other industrial equipment, having a solar preventative maintenance plan and protocols in place will save your facility time and money in the long-term. By investing a little bit of time and effort now, you will better understand your system and will easily be able to provide any documentation necessary if a warranty claim must be filed.

 

Need help getting started with a solar preventative maintenance plan, or have questions about solar O&M (Operations and Maintenance) or monitoring? SunPeak is a full-service commercial and industrial solar contractor, with in-house design, construction, and ongoing maintenance and technical assistance. Please contact us if we can assist you with your solar goals.

Mark Heft

Operations & Maintenance Manager

Mark has a diverse technical and electrical background as well as renewable energy training, which are all integral to the multi-faceted role he plays within the organization. Mark serves as a resource across many teams, and often works directly with customers, especially in the management of site assessments, providing preventative maintenance training, assisting with operational questions, and performing warranty or maintenance work when needed. Mark is adept with SunPeak’s cloud-based monitoring platform, which helps him ensure customer systems perform effectively.