Imagine you are enjoying a wonderful day with solar panels powering your home appliances. Now all of a sudden the panel starts tripping. Not only is it annoying but it also indicates something wrong is going on in your system.
The most common reason for solar panels tripping out is circuit breaker tripping. Circuit breakers can trip mostly due to high current flow, bad quality circuit breakers, wrong circuit wiring, and internal problems with the panels. In some cases, Inverter problems too can trip circuit breakers.
Most of these problems are easy to identify and fix. But if you are feeling nervous or you are working with high voltage or amp systems (Like a full-on solar array) consider taking help from an electrician. Regardless learning about the reasons will definitely clear up any doubts and may save you from further problems in the future.
So without further ado, let’s take a deep dive into the topic.
Table of Contents
What is Solar Panel Tripping Out?
Solar Panel tripping out means if solar panel suddenly stops working. Let’s say your panel was powering a light bulb. And now for some reason, the light bulb stops working.
So how does it work? Your circuit breaker is your safety mechanism. When something goes wrong, the circuit breaker literally breaks the circuit. Due to issues like overloading circuits, faulty wiring, etc., problems like this occurs. So solar panel tripping out means something is wrong with your solar panel system.
How to Identify Solar Panel Tripping Out?
As said earlier, the biggest indication is whatever is connected to your panel stops out of nowhere. If you decide to restart the system it begins to trip yet again. If this problem persists for a long time, your solar panel is definitely tripping out.
Now you have to go and check the circuit breaker in the solar power system. Take a look at the service panel. The breakers should be all lined up in a row in the ‘ON’ position. If not your circuit breaker is tripping and causing the solar panel to trip.
Also, remember to check if the inverter is working properly. Sometimes inverter glitch triggers this issue. More about inverters will be discussed in later sections.
Why is my Solar Panel Tripping Out?
Now to the main question, why does this happen? As discussed earlier it is the circuit breaker tripping that causes tripping in solar panels. So why do circuit breakers trip?
There are five main reasons:
- Circuit Wiring Errors
- Problems with Panel
- Inverter Problem
- Low-Quality Circuit Breaker
What is Overloading? Let’s say your circuit can only handle a certain amount of current. Now more current than the limit flows through it. This right here is Overloading.
When you plug in too many things on the circuit this occurs. It will result in circuit breaker tripping to protect your circuit. Also, don’t forget the fact that Overloading may cause a fire. Thus, resolve the issue immediately.
Circuit Wiring Error
Short Circuit and Ground Fault are the main culprits in this section.
Let’s talk about short circuits. So you have wires, trees, water, or various objects in the vicinity of your circuit. Now due to some broken wire or other things the current may find a shorter path without nearly any resistance. This is a short circuit and it is bad.
During a short circuit, a very high amount of electricity will flow through the path, trigger the circuit breaker and cause harm to the system.
Next is a ground fault. Let’s say some conductors connected to the ground decide to touch your circuit and this causes a tremendous fault with the circuit. And this will also cause circuit breaker tripping.
Also, there are various other small circuit faults that can trigger circuit breaker tripping.
Problem With Panel
One of the main problems is with the conductors of solar panels that are mounted on frames. If the conductors are broken, not up to standard values, or installed in the wrong way it may cause problems with electrical flow.
This will in turn cause the circuit breaker to trip. Old and low-quality solar panels will cause the same problem and may cause tripping out.
If the Inverter in a solar panel is tripping it may destroy current production and may cause the circuit breaker to fail. The most common reason for the inverter problems is higher AC Voltage. It causes over-voltage and trips the solar panel.
Low-Quality Circuit Breaker:
This one is simple. A bad circuit breaker will trip regardless of what you do. If your current flow is high and your circuit breaker capacity is low problems will start happening. A rule of thumb is your circuit breaker can handle 80% current of their amp rating.
What to Do After Circuit Breaker is Tripped?
Now let’s say your solar panel system’s circuit breaker has tripped. There is a way you can easily resolve this issue. Follow these steps:
- Step 1: First of all turn the circuit off.
- Step 2: Now disconnect any devices connected to the Solar Powered System. You can do this by unplugging them.
- Step 3: Now go to your circuit breaker box.
- Step 4: Then switch off the circuit breakers.
- Step 5: Another thing you can do instead is to remove the fuse for the circuit you want to disconnect.
- Step 6: Move circuit breaker switch fully to OFF. Then move the switch back to ON.
- Step 7: Now test the solar-powered system by turning on the appliances connected to it.
How to fix Solar Panel Tripping Out?
In the previous section, we learned about why your solar panel may be tripping out. Now in this section, we will learn about ways to tackle such problems and solve them.
Without further ado, let’s proceed –
Solution to Solar Powered System Overloading
The issue is quite easy to fix. You simply have to take the extra load off from your solar-powered system. Spread out the load. You can do so by disconnecting unwanted appliances from the solar-powered system and connecting them to another system.
Another thing you can consider is energy-saving appliances. They will use less energy and you’ll have less chance of facing overloading issues.
Solution to Circuit Wiring Error
Let’s tackle short circuits first. If your circuit breaker is tripping only when something is plugged in then the problem might be with that specific appliance. If nothing is plugged in then the short is probably in your line. Once you have located the shorting in line, it’s strongly recommended that you seek an electrician to fix it. The general rule of thumb is to replace the faulty short circuit breaker with a new one.
Now on to Ground Fault. First, make sure your solar-powered system is grounded properly. If not seek help from the expert. And make sure you have GFCIs (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) installed on the power outlets of your home.
Solution to Faulty Panels
The easiest solution with a faulty panel with internal damage is to replace it. Nine times out of ten it will be more costly to repair an already messed up panel. Also, internal damage causes various other problems. So the best solution in my opinion, if you have a damaged panel is to replace it with a good and quality solar panel.
Solution to the Inverter Issue
The best solution regarding the inverter issue is to choose your circuit breaker wisely depending on the inverter. It’s recommended to seek advice from an electrician as they can examine your system up close and have more experience.
Regardless the main thing to keep in mind is that choose a circuit breaker considering the load in your solar-powered system, your environment, and your inverter in such a way that your inverter doesn’t trip out your solar panel.
Low-Quality Circuit Breaker
The final and one of the most common culprits regarding this issue. Fifty percent of the time the issue may be deceptively simple. And the simple solution to this one is to replace your low-quality breakers. Please consider investing a little more for a good quality compatible circuit breaker. Not only will it solve solar panels tripping out, but it will also provide your system with added safety.
A Guide to Hard Reset Solar Panel System
There is a common saying regarding electronics. That is “If it ain’t working, reset it!” Performing a reset on any electronic device or system has a good chance of resolving the problem. Be it your laptop or your solar-powered system. So here are the steps in performing a hard reset on your solar-powered system.
- Step 1: Turn your solar inverter off. First of all, skip this step if you have solar panels with a microinverter. The inverter is usually a large box. Once you find your inverter locate the AC/DC toggle switch. Then Power down your Solar Inverter.
- Step 2: Now on to Solar AC Disconnect. Check beside the inverter. There should be a gray box with black/red handle. Turn it off by pulling the lever.
- Step 3: Now go to your main electrical panel. Try to find your solar breaker. (Usually labeled Solar PV). Now as usual flip that off.
- Step 4: Memorise what you have done. Now, wait a couple of minutes (Three or Four). Take a walk. Pop a can of soda and drink it if you want.
- Step 5: Good job if you haven’t forgotten the order you just did the steps. (Even if you have you can always look at this list). Now you have to do all the things we have done in reverse order.
- Step 6: Go to the main electric panel and Flip the solar breaker ON.
- Step 7: Go to AC Disconnect Box and move the lever to ON.
- Step 8: Can you guess what’s next? It’s obviously the inverter. Turn your inverter on.
And finally, you have performed a hard reset. And hopefully, this resolved the problems you have had.
Solar Panel Tripping out is an annoying problem. We will all likely face this problem one day. But if we have in-depth knowledge about this issue tackling this would be easy.
To summarise the main causes are: Bad Circuit Breakers, Overloading, Wiring Error, Inverter and Breaker Incompatibility, and Faulty Panels
Fixing this are fairly easy. Just make sure your panel is up to date and is not damaged. Do not overload your circuit by putting in more appliances. Make sure your wiring and grounding are correct. Choose good quality breakers that are compatible with Inverter. And always try hard resetting your system if in doubt. And if all of this fails be sure to contact your solar panel provider for more help.
And as always, I hope this article has provided you with valuable insights regarding solar panel issues and successfully resolved your problem.