Lock in your savings with Solar O&M
By: Natra Chau
If your business has gone solar, congratulations. Now what? Should you expect to see your predicted savings roll in uninterrupted for the next 30 years without any system upkeep? Not exactly… We’d love to answer “Yes” but the universe is a little more mischievous than that. From catastrophic weather conditions, to random system component breakdowns, to annoying little dust storms that render your system inefficient, a lot can go wrong for your solar investment from the moment it begins operation. If you’re a Sunvalley client, there’s no need to worry because you’re backed by our suite of long-term warranties and comprehensive Solar Operations & Maintenance (Solar O&M) service. If your installation provider doesn’t guarantee the life of your system, they may still offer a Solar O&M program that you might be eligible for.
Solar O&M sounds nice so far to have, but what is the scope of the services included and is it worth the extra cost at times? For many business owners looking to go solar, O&M simply refers to panel washing (although we’ll see later that it encompasses much more than this). First and foremost, we believe Solar O&M is integral to receiving your projected savings as a solar system owner and it is well worth the cost to have a company on retainer to provide those services. We recommend that businesses on the verge of going solar ask their chosen installation company whether they provide Solar O&M, and if so, whether it comes complimentary with the system. Sunvalley customers get free Solar O&M for the first five years of their system’s life. For your convenience, choose installation companies that are equipped to service the very systems that they install for you. When a system inverter goes down and your facility has to resort back to expensive utility power, the last thing you want to be doing is scrambling for a company that can fix the issue. Having one point of contact for all of your solar system needs will make your life a lot easier down the line.
Prior to system installation, many companies will walk you through the projected offset rate and savings that come with the solar system. One has to be mindful that these projections are possible only when assuming optimal conditions are in place throughout the life of the system. For this reason, the projected savings can be a bit misleading. This is why you have to make sure that the installers that you choose to go with is fully capable of maintaining your system. Be wary of solar companies that offer “warranties” but lack a Solar O&M program. Locking in your projected savings requires a continual process of monitoring and maintenance, which is something a lot of companies tend to shy away from revealing. This is the job of a Solar O&M provider.
Depending on what company you choose to go with, their approach could be as simple as performing routine panel washing and leaving it at that. Solar O&M can get a lot more complicated however, and if you are expecting to lock in your projected savings, you should ask for a provider that has more extensive O&M capabilities. These include:
- Panel cleaning
- Vegetation management
- Wildlife prevention
- Water drainage
- Data acquisition and active system monitoring
- Mechanical equipment checks (solar mounting-racking systems check, electrical wires and tools check)
- Inverter servicing (internet connections check, fuse controls and electronics check related with all inverters)
- Spare parts supply and equipment replacement
Sunvalley Solar is happy to provide all of these services and more. Contrary to the popular sentiment that solar systems can be left to fend for themselves and still perform as projected, we’d like to leave our viewers with a more realistic picture of what is to be expected when a business assumes ownership of a solar system. In the end, we believe the projected savings greatly justify the low fees businesses are expected to pay to keep their solar system in pristine working condition.