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Home & garden.

Updated: 7 Apr 2022

Solar panel problems and how to solve them

Find out the most common problems solar panel owners tell us about, plus expert advice on how to solve them
Sarah Ingrams
Solar panel problems 482389

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.

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Solar panel problems: technical faults

The top of a tiled roof with solar panels

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:

  • electrical problems (6%)
  • generation meter stopped working (2%)
  • panels producing less electricity than before (2%)
  • panels producing no electricity (2%)
  • poor electrical connections (2%)
  • cracked or broken glass on panels (1%)
  • problems with the isolator (1%).

If you’re considering installing solar panels, check our Solar panel installation.

Solar panel inverter problems

Solar panel inverter

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. 

Find out how much you should expect to pay for a new inverter and other tips to make the most 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. 

Find a reputable solar panel installer using Which? Trusted Traders. You can also use our Trusted Traders search tool below to find local solar panel experts in your area.

Other problems with solar panels

Though serious solar panel system faults are rare, owners reported having other issues with their solar PV systems including:

  • birds or squirrels nesting (15%)
  • dirt building up on the panels (14%)
  • shadows from trees or other buildings (7%)
  • loose or damaged roof tiles (3%).

Unlike many technical faults, these problems are often possible to solve yourself, or take steps to prevent happening in the first place. 

If you're still choosing your solar panels, use our buying advice for solar PV to find the right system for your home.

Fixing solar panel problems: expert tips

To help you identify and resolve the most common solar PV problems, we spoke to Which? Trusted Traders Ceiba Renewables and looked at guidance from industry body Solar UK and standards body MCS.

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 MCS. This ensures that they’re signed up to deliver high standards and you have access to redress if something goes wrong.