How do you know if your panels are still working?

So you installed a solar system a few years ago and it has been working great but how do you know if it’s still producing as much power as it can? Maybe you’re worried that one of the panels is broken or the trees that were small a few years ago have grown and are now creating too much shade and the system isn’t living up to it’s potential. Since there are no moving parts on your solar system it’s hard to tell if your panels are converting those photons falling from the sky into useful energy.

Follow these steps to check and see if everything is still running smoothly. If you still have questions after this blog please don’t hesitate to call us at (805) 772-6786


  1. Check your inverter. Find that big box hanging on the wall near your electric meter and see if there is a green light on it (usually just to the right of the display). In the morning when the sun rises and your solar wakes up, it will do a panel by panel check of the system. If all is well then a green light will illuminate and you have nothing to worry about. If there is a red light, something is not right with your system and you should call us right away so we can come out and troubleshoot the problem before any more sunlight is wasted.  You can also check the display on your inverter so make sure power is being produced. Usually output peaks around noon and on a sunny day this will be around 75% of the rated DC output of your system.
  2. Check to see if your electric meter is running backwards on a sunny day.  The amount of power you are sending back to PG&E  (usually in kW) is the net of what your solar generates minus what your home is currently using.
  3. Keep an eye on your monthly PG&E statement. if your energy usage does not change but there is a sudden increase in kWh billings could be a sign that your system is not operating properly.
  4. Check your monitoring system, if you have one. Monitoring systems are easy to use and some can even tell you panel by panel output , however,  they cost a little more money upfront. Some monitoring systems even allow you to check your system’s output via your computer or cell phone. Note: the most common service call is a problem with monitoring and not the system itself. When monitoring is not working the solar system is usually still working properly and producing energy.