And our engineers say September to November are generally the best months when most solar PV systems – connected to our grid or not - maximise their output of clean renewable energy.

There are more than 118,500 solar PV systems* connected to Ergon’s network and that number is growing each month. So if you are thinking of investing in solar there are a few things to consider. First, ask yourself if solar power is right for you.

If your answer is yes the next step is research and a good starting point is our buyer’s checklist.

Once your system is installed and operating, it’s not a case of set and forget. It’s easy to do that as the system is on the roof, out of sight and perhaps out of mind.

However to get the most out of your system and power your appliances, it should be monitored and maintained to make sure it’s working efficiently and providing the greatest amount of renewable clean energy.

Here are some ideas to maximise the output and get the most from your system.

Shade

Shade could have a big impact on the output of your system. Shade from trees or even other buildings reduces the flow of solar power through the panels. Shading on just part of one panel will reduce the output of the entire system.

Your solar panel array should be positioned away from any shade for the best efficiency. Be sure to discuss this with your solar retailer or installer if shade may be a problem for you.

Keep your panels clean

Clean solar panels means your system can continue to maximise production of clean renewable energy.

Solar panels collect dust, salts and airborne pollutants especially in times of drought or long periods without rain. And that reduces the amount of electricity your systems produces.

And don’t forget the impact of birds and their droppings. There is no doubt birds share our love of solar as one customer found out.

Picture of solar panels covered in bird droppings

So it is important to keep your panels clean. For your own safety we do not recommend you climb onto your roof to clean your solar panels. Instead shop around and choose a reputable company to clean them.

Maintenance

There is very little maintenance with a grid-connected solar PV system. However for safety reasons and peace of mind it’s wise to have the electrical system and wiring inspected by a licensed electrical contractor periodically.

Most panels will last up to 25 or 30 years and your inverter will need to be replaced at least once during that time.

Your solar installer should be able to provide you with a maintenance schedule. For further tips, see the Clean Energy Council guide on what to do once your system is installed.

Check your inverter

Your inverter converts DC (direct current) electricity produced by your solar panels into AC (alternating current) for use in your home and/or export to the grid.

It’s important to make sure your inverter is working properly – if not it could be costing you money, so get into the habit of checking it regularly.

Check the screen for information – no information is a sign it’s not working. If the inverter is on and says missing grid or a red fault light/code displays, call your installer or a licensed electrical contractor to look at it.

*August 2016

We’re interested in your feedback. If you would like to comment on this article please contact talkingenergy@ergon.com.au