Cloud-based field service softwareOur blog Maximizing Solar Efficiency: Tackling Downtime With Field Service Management
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Maximizing Solar Efficiency: Tackling Downtime With Field Service Management

Justine Arscott
April 16, 2024
9 min. read

There is no greater service interruption for a photovoltaic power system than solar panel failure. Whether a panel fails partially or completely, the reduction in power production is immediate. Even the loss of a few solar cells per panel adds up over a large multi-megawatt system. If you’re in charge of managing the maintenance and repairs of an array, you’ll need to do more than just understand the common solar panel failure causes.

Steady and profitable power production requires a complete field service management solution. Go beyond just reacting to solar panel degradation and create a maintenance program that keeps your service team on top of the challenges.

Common Solar Panel Failures

Most issues in solar systems involve inverters and other electrical system components. The panels themselves only have around a one in 2,000 chance of failing over the 25-year lifespan of a modern PV design. Performance degradation rather than complete failure is a common problem.

Panels may lose efficiency due to a few well-understood issues that occur after installation. In some cases, panels may break shortly after installation due to damage from transportation, mishandling, or a rare accident like a severe impact. Most commercial solar panels that fail experience one of the following issues.

Five Reasons for Solar Panel Degradation and Failure

  1. Light-induced degradation (LID) is almost unavoidable. Only high-quality materials and careful manufacturing processes can mitigate its effects. On average, each solar panel in a system will lose between 0.25% and 0.7% of performance per year. If you notice panels or strings losing a higher amount of performance than that, it’s time for an investigation.
  2. Potential induced degradation (PID) usually begins to set in around five to 10 years after installation, although it can begin within weeks. It’s more common in humid climates because it’s a problem of voltage leakage from the solar cells to the metal frame. The problem is relatively rare because of today’s rigorous testing methods. Yet testing from independent institutions like PVEL shows that even many of the top panels on the market are still prone to PID in challenging situations. As the problem grows, some panels can experience a performance ratio loss of 40% or more.
  3. Any issue with the materials used for manufacturing the panel can lead to general degradation. This includes sudden premature failure due to water ingress or other physical defects. Weak points in the full solar system, such as low-quality junction box installations, can put extra stress on the cells and lead to this kind of failure.
  4. When light alone isn’t enough to damage a quality solar panel, the addition of high temperatures could lead to light and elevated-temperature-induced degradation (LeTID). This is particularly common in panels with PERC solar cells. PERC cells are more efficient at power generation, but they’re also at risk for a sudden 3% to 6% drop in performance due to light and high-temperature exposure. Look for N-type silicon solar cells to avoid this problem.
  5. Finally, physical defects like micro cracks and concentrated hot spots lead to degradation as well. Mistakes like stepping or walking on solar panels lead to broken cells and reduced performance. Tiny cracks form in the material of the panels, accumulating heat and leading to early failure. Simple design decisions can have a surprising impact on how resistant a solar panel is to degradation as it ages.

How To Check if Your Solar System Has a Problem

The faster you figure out which solar panel failure modes are affecting your installation, the faster you can resolve them. A visual inspection is the first step in dealing with common solar panel problems.

  • Look for dirt buildup and debris on the panels. This affects performance and is easy to fix with water and a soft broom.
  • Trim any nearby trees that might be shading the panels.
  • Ensure the circuit breaker hasn’t tripped on any string or section of panels.
  • Check connections and look for signs of corrosion or failure on the PV module and all connected elements.

Aside from physically checking the panels for signs of damage, you’ll want to use a web-based monitoring solution. This allows you to check daily solar generation numbers and quickly assess if there is a performance issue. You can cross-reference climate and weather impacts to ensure you’re not confusing degradation with a streak of unusual cloud cover. If you still can’t determine what’s causing the performance issue, don’t forget to inspect the inverter for any obvious faults.

Minimizing Downtime and Maximizing Solar Efficiency With FSM Software

Solar Field Service Management Software

Without a plan for minimizing solar power downtime, more than a few solar companies have filed for bankruptcy. Even if the problem is due to solar panel company failures rather than poor management, catching the problem too late makes it a moot point to request warranty repairs or refunds. A centralized management solution for solar energy is essential. It needs to consolidate all of the tracking data, scheduling, and task management for your operation. You can only achieve the efficiency required for profitable operations by using a field service management (FSM) software solution built with solar companies in mind.

Proactive maintenance is the key to maximizing solar efficiency and profits. Remote monitoring is a good start, but data analysis is also required to help you understand what’s happening in the field. Scheduling preventive maintenance for solar panels is challenging because lifespan alone doesn’t determine the need for repairs or replacement. Everything from weather conditions to energy production patterns plays a role. The right FSM software needs to facilitate seamless communication between managers, field technicians, and the customers calling in for help. This means the software needs to connect through mobile apps, messaging platforms, and automated notifications.

Streamlined Operations

FSM software isn’t just about filling the gaps in communication between technicians and the back-office teams. It’s also a central source of data, relieving unnecessary bottlenecks when planning processes and operations for any solar business. Task management is handled completely from the initial installation through all necessary repairs and maintenance.

Generating a work log takes the press of a button, immediately showing how a particular module or field is performing. There’s no need to wonder how to allocate the labor of your technician team either. The FSM software makes it easier to identify their skill sets and availability, matching the right green energy personnel to each task.

Optimized Maintenance Scheduling

With hundreds or thousands of individual solar modules in need of maintenance, the average solar company needs to optimize its scheduling efforts. Data-driven scheduling is only practical with the help of service management software. Proactive and preventative maintenance is easily scheduled according to a wide range of factors so that downtime is minimized. The history of previous work orders helps with taking appropriate course of actions in case of repeat visits.

Adaptive scheduling maximizes efficiency and energy production no matter how conditions change.

Remote Monitoring and Diagnostics

Real-time equipment monitoring is essential for solar energy production. Technicians must be able to monitor solar modules and arrays without traveling to them, identifying signs of potential issues before downtime actually occurs. The right FSM software even allows for remote diagnostics through the solar system. Fewer on-site visits and truck rolls mean you’re minimizing response times and labor costs on maintenance issues.

Improved Communication

Communication is often a weak point of growing solar companies. With the right FSM software, it’s easier than ever to stay in touch. Field technicians can request more information from customers and report it to their managers using the same app. Automated notifications and seamless data transfers reduce communication gaps that slow down response times for maintenance. This leads to happier customers and more efficient technicians at the same time.

Data Analytics for Predictive Maintenance

For long-term success in the solar industry, your company has to identify trends in equipment performance over the months and years. It’s only possible to choose a predictive maintenance and replacement schedule with historical data and equipment telemetry. There’s no need to wait for costly downtime to let you know there’s a problem. Telemetry systems that integrate with the solar equipment and your FSM platform  gather real-time data on performance. Your technicians can spot degradation issues in a matter of days rather than waiting months or years to realize there’s a problem.

Enhanced Customer Service

Solar Field Service Management Software Customer Service

You might avoid downtime because of lost profits, but your customers feel it even more if it disrupts their operations. Customer satisfaction begins with proactive maintenance and timely repairs for all solar systems. The faster you can resolve an issue or restore production, the happier your customers will be.

High service quality increases customer retention and also ensures you’re maximizing profitability. FSM software can help you reach all of these goals by streamlining communication with your customers when you’re working on maintenance activities or by providing them appointment self-schedule capabilities. 

Scalability and Growth

With the Biden administration investing millions of dollars in clean energy jobs, it’s a great time to grow your solar company. Yet, you can only grow with scalable solutions for tracking and managing your operations. You can’t let growth compromise your service quality. The right software will adapt for both small-scale and utility-scale solar farms.

It should grow and provide the necessary infrastructure for a company to expand without limits, letting you take advantage of all the opportunities for growth in the solar energy market.


There’s no need to let small solar panel degradation issues add up to hurt the performance of your company. Stay on top of those necessary maintenance tasks with a field service management software solution designed with solar companies in mind.


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Praxedo has been a trusted provider of field service management (FSM) solutions for companies across the globe since 2005. Our success is attributed to our unwavering focus on delivering the best FSM tools in the market. Unlike other providers, we don’t aim to supply all enterprise applications. Instead, we prioritize our expertise in FSM and offer a cloud-based solution that streamlines deployment from start to finish.

Today, more than 1,500 companies including large enterprises and SMBs, and 65,000 users across the globe rely on Praxedo daily to optimize their field service operations. Our solution enables them to increase productivity, optimize resources, and facilitate seamless data exchanges between field personnel such as technicians and engineers, and their dispatchers.

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