Outstanding Solar and Electric ServiceWe are one of the few solar companies with a full-time service department, monitoring our customer’s solar arrays via the internet.
Here’s what our Service Department can do for you:
- Service arrays installed by MSS and other installers: If you have an array that needs service contact us today, no matter who installed it!
- Monitor the performance of all the systems we have installed, and even some we haven’t installed (e.g. when an original installer is no longer in business or if you’re not happy with your current monitoring company)
- Troubleshoot any production or communication issues that come up within the different monitoring portals (e.g. SolarEdge, Enphase, and more.)
- Work with equipment manufacturers on your behalf if we are not able to resolve an issue.
- Communicate with you to help troubleshoot a problem with your system and arrange a site visit when necessary.
- Mediate warranty claims and product replacement
Michigan Solar Solutions Service Request
Solar Maintenance Frequently Asks Questions
We all love to look at our solar array production via the handy online applications on our smartphones. But be forewarned: you may drive yourself crazy if you are expecting "normal" production during the Michigan Winters. That is because the Earth has tilted us away from the sun.
In the winter (November through February +/-) the sun's rays have to penetrate the atmosphere at an increased angle, thus rays go through more atmosphere - dropping solar production significantly. The Earth's tilt also means the days are shorter and the average hours of sunlight are decreased. Add in the thicker cloud cover on a high number of days per month and it is understandable how Michigan solar arrays only make 10-15% of the annual production over the entire four months of winter.
There are some winter days your array won't even turn on. Many other days the array just appears to be flaky on your monitoring application. Don't worry - this is all normal. When we size an array - all of that is taken into consideration. It is normal!
After a large snowfall, brush off and expose a portion of each panel. The panels will begin to produce energy and warm up melting the rest of the snow off the panels. For large or roof-mounted arrays you may want to use a roof snow broom/rake to remove the snow. If the roof rake has a metal end, duct tape a towel around it to protect the glass on the solar panels so they don’t get scratched or cracked when removing the snow. There are also telescoping snow brooms available online that auto dealers use to brush snow off cars that won’t scratch your solar panels.
* Note: Solar panels work best when they are cold.
So, if a period of very cold weather is expected, you will see a large benefit from removing any snow from the panels to maximize your energy production. The best hourly production you will have all year is when it is at or below zero!
Inflow is how much energy has flowed into your home from the grid. The pic below shows the screen you will see. Note the screen title - 004
The outflow is how much energy you have sent to the grid and received credit for. Note the screen title - 008
Current power flow measures real-time what is going through the meter.
The meter will toggle between these items. Sometimes inflow and outflow will show two or three times for every time current power flow is shown. The meter will show 004 (which represents inflow – how much power has flowed out of the grid into your home) then it will toggle to 008 (which represents outflow – how much power you have sent to the grid). The current flow is represented by a numeric figure with a plus or minus sign in front of it. A figure like -3.12 means that you are sending 3,120w to the grid at that point in time. A figure like 3.12 means you are pulling 3,120w from the grid at that point in time. When power is flowing onto the grid you are receiving full retail credit from the utility company for your power.
Meter Codes and What They Mean
4-On peak Delivered (add 4 and 6 to get 3 value)
6-Off Peak Delivered (add 4 and 6 to get 3 value)
8-Max kWh Delivered
9-On Peak Max kWh Delivered
10-Off Peak Max kWh Delivered
12-Kvarh Total - Lag
30-Instantaneous kW Total Delivered
31-Instantaneous Power Factor
56-CE Program ID
561-CE Program ID Version
Screen number 3 is an aggregate total of how many kWh have been delivered to the home from the electrical grid since the meter was installed. The Key above lists this as kWh Delivered because this is how many Consumers Energy has delivered to you.
NOTE: older Consumers meters will show kWh Received as a screen number 14 and not screen number 50.
When a system is sized to offset your load 100%, during the spring, summer, and fall (on most days) you will push enough power onto the grid to more than cover your nighttime usage. At the end of each 24-hour cycle, you will have left a little credit on the grid. Through these seasons you will build enough credit to cover your usage through the winter when the days are shorter and electric loads are higher.
NOTE: The utility company will never know how much power you produce. They only know about the power that could not be consumed by the loads in the home and had to flow onto the electric grid. So, your electricity production shown in your monitoring portal will never match what the utility company shows as ‘Outflow’.
Most of the time your system is producing power when there is a connection issue between the inverter and your router. Whether you have a hardwired connection or a Wi-Fi connection you should;
Check your electrical panel and make sure your circuit breaker didn’t trip. If it did trip, reset it. If it didn’t trip the breaker then continue outside to the meter. Near the meter is your solar AC disconnect.
The lever should be up in the ON position. If it isn’t up, flip it up. The only way for this to be off is if someone flipped it off.
Make sure the router is plugged in. Next, reset your router. If it does not have a rest button, power it down for ten seconds (unplug it) then power it back up. If your system has a ZigBee/Gateway WI-FI then most of the time the issue is because the Gateway device (plugged into your router) has recently been moved, or an obstruction has been placed between the Gateway device and the antenna on the inverter. When this happens, the signal can be blocked/lost due to an obstruction. This will require either the Gateway device to be moved so that it has a clear line of sight to the inverter antenna, possibly closer to the inverter if available staying plugged into the router. Or the obstruction could be moved out of that line of sight. If all else fails, you may need to hardwire the connection, if available (may incur additional costs).
*If this fails, or if you would prefer, please contact our service department at (248) 923-3456 Option 2.
If you ever have questions regarding anything we can help with, please contact either your salesperson or our service department. At MSS, we pride ourselves on delivering the same great service after the job is complete and paid for as we did before you signed the contract. We realize that you are our biggest asset and resource. We do this not only because we would like to call upon you in the future when a neighbor asks for a reference, but primarily because it is the right thing to do.
The utility companies will only allow you to install a system that will offset your anticipated load. However, things change. Customers whose systems we installed years ago have continued switching to LED bulbs, replaced older appliances with newer more efficient appliances, had kids move out, etc. You will not receive a check from the utility company for this power. You do have a few options as to how best to use these credits. Most customers will wait for cold winter days and then plug in a few electric space heaters, reducing their heating bill while using up their credits. This also allows them to be warmer than they otherwise would be. Other customers allow these credits to build for when they get an electric car.
Note: These credits are shown as “Excess Energy Bank” on your bill and will never expire.
How do I know if I have used up my credits?
You can buy a Kill-A-Watt meter from Home Depot or Lowes for under $30. If you plug the meter into the wall, then plug your electric space heater into the meter, it will let you know exactly how many kWh the heater has used. These are also very handy to see how much energy appliances use.
Our Service Promise
Please know we do our best to monitor our hundreds of customers' systems through the portal and we will alert you if we find an issue that needs correcting. If you note something odd yourself and have questions, please reach out to the Service Department at (248) 923-3456, opt 2, by email at email@example.com or tell us more by completing the form, above.