Anyone who has built or invested in their own photovoltaic system expects it to generate maximum yields over its lifetime.
Losses in yield due to incorrect planning, faulty installation, the wrong choice of components, or insufficient maintenance can never be recovered and worsen the profitability of the investment. Protecting your PV system helps prevent this loss of revenue. In this article, we have compiled the following five tips for safeguarding your PV investment for the long term:
- Protection against weather influences
- Protection against damage by animals
- Protection against vandalism and theft
- Protection by choosing the right service provider
- Protection by choosing the right insurance
1. Protection against weather influences
By its very nature, a solar power plant is exposed to all kinds of weather throughout its useful life. High-quality components such as modules, inverters, substructures and cables are designed to withstand a lifetime of extreme weather conditions and seasonal fluctuations. Thus, during the planning and installation of the PV system, you should ensure that only high-quality and certified components are installed.
To safeguard your PV system against damage caused by lightning, you should integrate a professional lightning protection concept that has an appropriate overvoltage security. This should not only be checked after suspected lightning strikes, but also regularly and renewed if necessary.
One thing a PV system cannot really be protected from are damages caused by hailstorms. Using high-quality modules (which are very resistant due to their special nature) ensures that hardly any damage can occur. However, it is advisable to carry out regular visual and thermography checks in order to detect even the smallest cracks (microcracks) in the module surfaces and to repair them before problems occur.
When installing inverters, make sure that they are not exposed to direct sunlight when possible and that they are also protected from rain. In addition, inverters should be installed in such a way that they are easily and safely accessible for inspections, maintenance and repairs, but also for the fire department in case of fire.
When choosing substructures, but also when selecting cables and plug connections, make sure that they can withstand high UV exposure and are certified accordingly. If possible, do not install cables and connectors too exposed to the sun, and keep them from moisture.
2. Protection against damage caused by animals
Rooftop solar installations in particular often provide havens for animals to build their nests, and unintentionally cause damage. A regular PV inspection of the system -at least once a year- can help to detect uninvited guests, such as mice, martens or birds, that have nested in and/or damaged the PV system’s wiring or modules.
Gnawed cables or nests under modules are difficult to detect, but the damage they cause is very real. Birds that have built their nests under solar modules often cause severe fouling with their droppings, which results in significant loss of performance. Bitten cables can not only cause significant performance loss, but they can also pose an increased risk of fire.
Special wire mesh or similar products can help keep rodents and birds away from the weak points of your photovoltaic system.
3. Protection against vandalism and theft
Time and again, solar installations become the target of vandalism and theft. The more accessible a solar installation is (for example on low roofs) and the more remotely located it is (e.g. on remote open space or rooftops), the higher the risk that it will be damaged or even completely destroyed by mere vandalism or theft with vandalism.
When planning rooftop installations, try to match the accessibility of the solar installation to the respective public accessibility of the building. When planning ground-mounted systems, the security technology to be used should be adapted to the conditions. For example, fences should be equipped with climbing protections and sufficient distance should be planned between the fence and the solar module. Whether camera systems, motion detectors, alarm devices on the modules or a combination of these are used depends on the specifications of the insurance companies and the financing banks.
4. Protection by choosing the right service provider
Whatever and whoever you opt for – in the planning, the choice of components, the construction, the inspection, the maintenance, the cleaning – it should always be high-quality. Established, certified, professional service providers secure the value of your investment throughout their experience and ensure that the solar system generates the yields you expected and that the solar system does not pose any risks to yourself or third parties.
Costs saved by using low quality providers and/or components can lead to significant yield losses over the life cycle of a PV system, and it often exceeds the cost savings.
When choosing the right service provider, you should pay attention to their professional suitability, any necessary certifications, recommendations and their meaningful references.
5. Protection by choosing the right insurance
When securing your PV system, you should leave nothing to chance. Even with the best planning, optimal construction and regular inspection and maintenance, events can occur that limit or completely prevent the operation of your system.
In order not to endanger the profitability of your investment by such events, it is essential to insure yourself professionally against property damage (compensation for repair or replacement costs) and loss of income (compensation for loss of income).
It makes sense to compare different insurance offers and to benchmark them regularly. Differences exist not only in the amount of the insurance premium, but also in the scope of benefits, the deductibles and the obligations. You should particularly pay attention to the compliance with the obligations.
This is a free translation. To read the original article in German: click here.