So one day you find out your trusty panel ain’t working. So you hook up your multimeter to your PV system and it reads zero voltage. What do you do?
The main reasons for no voltage in solar panels are Issues with Solar Charge Controller, Inverter, Broken or Damaged Solar panels, Wrong Wiring, and an unsuitable environment. A couple of go-to solutions are resetting the charge controller and inverter, replacing components, and making sure your panel is getting proper sunlight.
No voltage problem is one of the most annoying issues you can face. The first step is to learn in-depth about the issue. Then when you have done so, it’s recommended to diagnose or pinpoint the exact issue and then go on to troubleshoot it.
Fortunately, I am here to walk you through all of the steps to the best of my ability. Without further ado, let us proceed.
Table of Contents
Reasons for No Voltage in Solar Panel
As we discussed earlier, there can be multitudes of reasons why your solar panel is having no voltage. To fix the issue without problem it’s recommended that you learn in-depth about why these issues are caused. This way you’ll not face further issues in the long run.
Solar Charge Controller Fault
The solar charge controller regulates the amount of power that goes through your system. It’s one of the most integral parts of your PV system. If something is wrong with it i.e. broken or not working properly it will mess up the circuit and causes issues like zero voltage.
Solar Inverter Fault
Solar Inverter converts your DC current to AC current. It’s also an integral part of the circuit. The most common problems are faulty installation of the inverter, wrong programming, broken inverter, and wrong wiring. A faulty inverter is also a big culprit in the no voltage problem.
How does your panel produce voltage? By sunlight is the answer. Now if your panel is not getting the sun, it won’t be producing the volts. Here come environmental issues like shading, dirty solar panel, high temperature, and bad weather. Extreme environmental cases and lack of sunlight will drag the voltage of your panel down to zero.
Broken Solar Panel
A busted solar panel won’t be producing the voltage you want it to. If your panel is cracked, broken, and has a weird pattern, the integrity of your panel is no more. Thus there will be no voltage produced by it
How to Diagnose Solar Panel No Voltage?
Before we proceed to learn about various reasons here are a couple of things you should do to pinpoint your exact issues. Doing so may save you a lot of hassle and your precious time.
Open Circuit Voltage Test
First of all, we need to know to measure voltage properly. Trust me, one out of five times people use the multimeter wrong and get freaked out when they get an undesirable result. Follow the following steps to perform an open circuit voltage test.
- Step 1: Disconnect your solar panel from your PV system
- Step 2: Take a working multimeter and set it to DC
- Step 3: Make sure your solar panel is getting sufficient light
- Step 4: Take the negative lead of the panel and connect it to the negative side of the terminal
- Step 5: Just like that take the positive lead of the panel and connect it to the positive side of the terminal
Now it’s time to read the result. Your average 12V panel would be producing about 18V to 28V open circuit on full sunlight.
Solar Charge Controller Test
More often than not damaged controller causes the no voltage issue. So it’s important to verify the integrity of your solar charge controller. Follow these steps
- Step 1: Connect the negative side of the multimeter to the negative wire of the charge controller.
- Step 2: Do the same for the negative one.
- Step 3: Read the multimeter.
- Step 4: If it’s zero/ no current then, reset the controller. Disconnect it and then reconnect it.
- Step 5: Repeat the Process till Step 3.
If you still get zero voltage, your Charge Controller is busted.
Checking the Solar Inverter
If something is wrong with your system your Solar Inverter will start flashing light. Go ahead and reset the inverter. Another issue is noise from the Inverter when there is no current. That means that the broken thing needs a replacement.
Checking the Panel’s Integrity
Just make sure your panel isn’t damaged. Check for cracking; weird patterns or hotspots. Also, make sure your MC4 connector isn’t loose and the junction box is fitted properly. You should easily be able to spot anything that is broken with your panel.
Solutions to Solar Panel No Voltage
In the following section, we will be seeing how to fix each of the problems in a definitive manner. Fixing them is fairly easy, but if you are feeling nervous do consider calling a professional electrician for help.
Resetting The Charge Controller
If your solar charge controller is showing a problem moon error symbol, zero power, frozen display, etc. it may cause the zero volt problem. The easy fix is to reset your solar charge controller.
As with any electronics resetting works like a charm. A quick restart can easily resolve various issues. There are two types of reset. Hard and Soft. Try the soft one before attempting the hard one.
A soft reset is simple. Press the reset button and restart your charge controller. In some models, you have to press both the power and the reset button and in some four buttons together.
Its screen will blink and flash and soon after it will return to the same display screen. It’s basically like rebooting a phone.
Hard Reset is basically disconnecting the system. Do this night if you attempt it. Disconnect the load first, then disconnect the panel. Do not forget in which order you disconnected the wires.
Wait like five to ten minutes. It depends on the controller. Reconnect the wire in the same order you disconnected them.
In most cases, a soft reset is enough. If it is not working attempt a hard reset. Resetting Solar Charge Controller is one of the most common solutions if your Solar Charge Controller is not working properly.
Also if resetting doesn’t fix the problems with Charge Controller consider replacing them.
Resetting the Solar Inverter
As said earlier resetting devices can make it work like a charm. We’ll be doing the same for Solar Inverter to see if the issue persists.
- Step 1: Find the Solar Inverter in your PV system. It’s usually a large box.
- Step 2: Find the AC/DC toggle switch and turn off the inverter
- Step 3: Check beside the inverter, there should be a gray box with black/red handle. This is the AC disconnect. Pull the lever down.
- Step 4: Go to your main electric panel, find your solar breaker and flip that off.
- Step 5: Remember the order you performed the action. Now, wait a couple of minutes.
- Step 6: Now we’ll be doing all these things again in reverse.
- Step 7: Flips the Solar Breaker On;
- Step 8: Go to the AC disconnect box and move the lever to ON.
- Step 9: Turn your inverter on.
After this, if your inverter isn’t working properly, please consider buying a new one. It’s recommended that you buy quality products otherwise the same problems might happen.
Solutions to Solar Panel’s Internal Problem
If your Solar Panel has cracks or hotspots or other physical damage, you have to replace it. There is no way I know of that can easily fix such damage. But the least you can do is to fix loose cables and a badly fitted junction box.
Let’s talk about Loose MC4 cables. Due to not making full contact problems occur. Here is how to fix them.
- Step 1: First we loosen up the back gland of the connector with a screw.
- Step 2: Now pull the MC4 connector to check if it pops out.
- Step 3: If it pops out it means your MC4 connecter is loose. Now push the MC4 connector in until you hear a click. Make sure the connector is fully seated.
- Step 4: Put back the backward gland.
After following this your MC4 connector will be fixed.
Now to the junction box. These are located in the back of your Solar Panel. You can open them and check if they are screwed up properly. If not screw them up properly. It’s recommended that if you have problems in your junction box seek help from the experts.
One of the most important issues people face in their PV system is bad wiring. These not only cause zero volts but also low amp or zero amps issues. The thing to always keep in mind here is to wire your circuits properly. You can do so by taking help from experts if needed.
The second one is to always use quality components and equipment. Please refrain from using old and low-quality equipment. Not only will it cost you more money in the long run, but it’ll also waste your time. And please make sure your solar panel is getting proper sunlight and not facing any harm that can damage it.
No voltage in Solar panels is a common problem we’ll all face. Most of them are fairly easy to solve and need simple resetting. Sometimes you will need a replacement and at another time if nothing seems to work you’d need to call an expert.
Anyway if you follow these steps hopefully your problem will be resolved. Along with it, you may also learn a thing or two that might help you in the long run. Regardless, I hope I managed to help you in resolving your issues.