Despite the traction achieved by the solar industry in the past few years, naysayers still rear their ugly heads sometimes, raising bizarre and unsubstantiated claims about why solar is a bad idea.

I remember reading an article a while ago that said solar systems were “failing” because dirt was collecting on the panels and reducing production. Then there are the myths raised about sub-standard quality panels suddenly not working, with the owner of the system none the wiser.

I realize there are situations when solar panels do stop working. They’re not perfect. Equipment can fail, although there are no moving parts in a panel to malfunction. A panel can break. Most are rated to withstand a one-inch hailstone at 60 mph, and in my seven years of installing solar, I’ve only seen one panel cracked from something hitting it. But still, they can break.

But these concerns are easily addressed with system monitoring. All the systems we sell come with online monitoring to make sure all panels in the array are working properly.

The naysayers ignore the fact that regular monitoring will alert installers to problems early so any problems can be fixed and the system can go on its merry way cranking out clean energy.

For them to be appalled that a solar electric system might need monitoring is like being horrified that your car needs maintenance. Cars are equipped with all kinds of monitors, for oil, temperature and gas level, to name a few. When your low-fuel indicator lights up, do you get mad at the auto manufacturer? No, you realize you need to add gas and the problem is fixed. Blaming a solar panel manufacturer because a dirty panel isn’t producing at its full capacity is like blaming the car company because you got a flat tire. Things happen. You monitor your expensive equipment to ensure it’s working properly and when it isn’t, you take steps to fix it.

In Massachusetts and some other states, solar production is reported monthly in order to earn income from selling Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SREC). People in this state have considerable incentive to maximize their solar generation. Monitoring their systems online, and using an installer like New England Clean Energy that also monitors the system, is a pretty easy way to make sure the car has a full gas tank.


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