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Maximizing your home solar system

Now that your solar system is up and you’re happily enjoying the size—or lack thereof—of your electricity bill, it’s time to maximize the kilowatt-hours your system can generate.

Take into consideration the variations in seasons and weather. When there is less sunshine the system will harvest less solar energy. On the other hand, the days are longer. The power generated by your solar array is affected directly to these seasonal and weather conditions.

Smart solar systems equipped with monitoring software can take a lot of the guesswork out of your system’s variations in power output, and make it easy to check the current and historical output of your rooftop power plant.

Cloudy conditions and short winter days are not the only reasons your system might be generating at a less-than-expected output. A properly installed solar array is one of the most reliable home appliances you can find, but it still needs to be maintained. Maybe the glass surface of the solar panels haven’t been cleaned in awhile, an adjacent tree is throwing more shade on the array, or critters have gnawed on the wiring. Perhaps a breaker has inadvertently switched off and the system has shut down.

MyEnlighten’s system status indicator may provide some answers. The feature shows when the array is not performing as expected and offers suggestions on what might be done to improve performance. If you’re still not sure what to do, your next move should be to contact Complete Solar or your own solar provider. Installers that use Enphase systems can often troubleshoot the problem remotely via their Enlighten Manager monitoring software and correct a glitch with the push of a button. If the problem requires a house call, the corrective maintenance can be handled smartly and promptly.

Sometimes the answer does not lie in the output of the solar system, but in your own behavior as an energy consumer. Has your utility bill increased a bit, despite the solar power offset? Then perform a self-audit of your electricity usage. Are you using the air conditioner more? Have you bought another flat-screen TV or purchased an electric or other plug-in vehicle? Did you have a baby and find yourself running the washer and dryer more, or does your college-age child home for summer break tend to leave every light in the house on when he bolts out the door?

If the answer to these kinds of questions is “yes,” then consider how you can make your home more energy efficient or “smarter,” or even think about adding a few more panels to your solar system.

The bottom line is, the slight variability in your solar system’s performance over the course of the year is a normal thing, so relax and enjoy the money you’re saving in your sunshine-powered home.

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