Solar panels are generally quite reliable. More than seven in 10 owners in our survey had never had a technical fault with their solar panel system. Some have owned their solar panels for a decade.
The most common – and most serious – problem owners face is with the inverter. In some cases inverter problems mean you don't get any usable renewable electricity.
It can also be a pricey problem to fix. But if you know about it, you can factor repair costs into your investment.
We surveyed 1,116 solar panel owners on our Which? Connect panel in June 2021 to find the most common technical faults with solar systems. Plus they told us about other issues that plague them, including pigeons and squirrels nesting under their solar panels. Keep reading to find out what you can do.
More than one in 10 of solar panel owners told us they had a problem with their inverter. This was by far the most common problem.
The next most common problems were:
It's not surprising that the inverter is the most common part of the solar panel system that owners reported problems with. While solar panels have warranties for 20 or 25 years, inverters aren't expected to last as long.
You should expect to replace your inverter at some point during the life of your solar panels.
If your inverter isn't working, you won't be able to use the electricity generated by your solar panels, so it's important to get it fixed quickly.
If you have recently had a power cut, check that the solar PV breaker in your consumer unit is in the on or up position. If it trips to the off position, call an engineer; if it stays on, check the inverter for error messages.
Check if your inverter is still within its warranty. If so, contact the company about the fault. If not, contact your solar panel installer for professional advice on replacing it.
Though serious solar panel system faults are rare, owners reported having other issues with their solar PV systems including:
Unlike many technical faults, these problems are often possible to solve yourself, or take steps to prevent happening in the first place.
Here we share their tips on identifying and solving the solar PV problems that owners told us were most common. Click on a problem to find out how to solve it.
Whenever you call a professional, make sure that they are registered with the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). This ensures that they’re signed up to deliver high standards and you have access to redress if something goes wrong.