When it comes to supporting your system, there’s a lot to know. We’re here to help.
Higher than expected electric bills can be due to a few factors. To get started, please review how to read an electric bill with solar.
Understanding your Electricity bill for: Eversource, Eversource Customers in the SMART program, National Grid, Unitil
There are a few possible explanations for a higher electricity bill:
Have you recently changed your electricity consumption?
- Has the number of people living in your home increased?
- Have you switched any of your appliances from gas to electric?
- Have you recently started charging an electric vehicle?
- Have you installed heat pumps or an electric hot water system?
- Did you recently start spending more time at home? (Increased work or schooling from home?)
Is it the wintertime?
Many customers find that even with solar they still pay electric bills for part of the year. In the wintertime, when solar production is at its lowest, you may end up with bills for a few months. This is totally normal. Year over year production of solar energy does fluctuate, depending on the weather.
The system is not producing: follow the directions for checking for a system outage here: My system is producing partial or no power
There are three kinds of inverter systems out there: traditional string inverters, microinverters, and string inverters with optimizers.
Many of SunBug’s customers have either a SolarEdge inverter system or Enphase Microinverters.
If you’re not sure what brand of equipment you have, find the solar equipment at your property. It is either in a basement, a garage, a barn, or on the side of a building. It will be in a place with other electrical equipment. If you have a ground-mounted array, it may be connected directly to the array itself.
Once you locate the equipment, look for the largest component. It will have the brand name right on the front.
SolarEdge inverters come in a few different forms. The most common examples are in the top half of the image.
Enphase uses microinverters. That means that the inverters are directly under the panels. Each panel has a single microinverter. This means you can’t really see the inverters, but what you will see is the Enphase combiner. It looks like the image in the lower half of the image.
Sorry to hear you’re having trouble with your system. Seems like it might be an inverter problem.
This answer will also address the following questions:
- There is an error message on the website or I got a notification about an error.
- I see an error message on the inverter.
- It looks like the inverter is off.
- When I look at the monitoring, some of the panels are blank.
- Communications issues
First things first: let’s figure out what kind of inverter you have.? (Usually, the manufacturer’s troubleshooting instructions are the most comprehensive, so that’s where we’ll look first.)
- If you have an Enphase or Solaredge inverter, we recommend checking out their troubleshooting instructions first. If you can’t find what you need, let us know and we’ll help you work it out!
- Not sure what kind of inverter you have? Check out the “How to Find what kind of inverter system you have” FAQ below.
- Have a different kind of inverter not listed above? Contact us directly to get assistance.
If you got a notice from your incentive management partner (most SunBug customers use SRECTrade) that they have not received production information, it is typically caused by one of two issues.
The first issue is that the meter is not communicating with the Internet.
The second issue is that your system is not producing electricity.
Check your online monitoring: Go to your online profile and verify that the system is producing power. Look for production. If you don’t see any production, then look for an error message. If the error message is about communication being down, the system may still be producing electricity.
- If your system displays the message “no communication errors” but there isn’t any production, then the system probably isn’t making power. Contact Sunbug.
- If there is no communication, follow this link for SolarEdge and this link for Enphase.
- If you have a different brand of inverter, contact Sunbug.
Follow these links below to find a self-help guide from the inverter companies:
Most of our systems come with some sort of monitoring. If you have just purchased a home with a Sunbug system or you aren’t sure what monitoring your system uses, please fill out the web form and we will let you know what kind of monitoring you have. Please be aware that not every system, especially older ones, has monitoring capabilities.
If you already know what monitoring you have, you can view these tutorials from the manufacturer. Please be advised that your system may not have every function seen in these videos.
Critter damage, especially from squirrels, can be very expensive. If you suspect that you have critters living under your solar array, you should call a pest control company and notify Sunbug.
If you have critter guards on your system, Sunbug will come out and fix your critter guard after the pest control company removes the animals. If you don’t have critter guards, the pest control company may offer those services and can install them for you. We recommend going through your pest control company if that’s an option because it can save time and money. As a preventative measure, try to keep the foliage as far away from the roofline as possible.
We don’t recommend trying to remove snow from the panels. It’s dangerous to climb on a roof covered in snow or ice without fall protection and you could scratch the glass and negatively impact production. Snow coverage is factored into your production estimate, so you should still be on track to hit the target production laid out in your estimate in any given year.
Sunbug can come and repair the critter guard. This usually comes with standard time and materials costs. But it’s possible that depending on the age of the system it might still be covered by Sunbug’s workmanship warranty.
To start the process, please fill out the form on our website and submit pictures of the sections that you can see so we can adequately prepare. Please be advised that SunBug cannot repair the equipment if there are any critters living under the panels.
The two most common reasons why a battery wouldn’t work during a power outage are:
- The battery’s stored charge is fully depleted. This can happen during utility power outages (particularly prolonged power outages) when battery recharge by solar generation is insufficient or isn’t feasible (e.g., nighttime, solar array blanketed by snow, etc.).
- The simultaneous electrical loads supported for backup by the battery exceed the battery’s discharge capacity. This can happen when the combined loads from all backup circuits exceed the live current power output to fully supply those loads. Because of this, heavy electrical loads such as heat pumps, air conditioners, electric clothes dryers, electric water heaters, EV chargers, etc. are poorly suited for battery backup.
You do not need to clean or maintain your solar panels in any way. Attempting to clean your panels can damage the equipment and affect the production of your array. The only maintenance you need to do for your array is to check your online monitoring regularly (monthly is a good option) and report any issues you find to SunBug through our online form.
For replacing or reshingling the roof:
You will likely need us to remove the entire system for this. We will need to store the equipment on your property while the maintenance work is done. We will need to confirm with your roofer that we can leave your roof flashings in place. We also need to file an electrical (and possibly building) permit. Please allow 3 to 4 months for this process knowing that the sooner you let us know, the better.
Note that if you want to modify your system during this process, we will need to do a redesign and refile and resubmit permitting to your town’s building and electrical departments. You will need to work with a Sunbug system designer to work through this redesign process.
For other roof work like chimneys or skylights:
We likely need to remove only a few panels. Have your contractor identify which panels need to be removed and we can do that. This does not typically require any permitting. We will store the panels on your property and return once the work is done to reinstall them.
For other renovations or home additions:
Your contractor will need to tell us what they need. In some cases we need to remove the panels and the other equipment, sometimes we only need to remove the panels. That decision is up to your contractor. If we need to remove racking and attachments, we may need to file a permit and we will need more time to process everything.
For the health of the building, we will remove the system as soon as possible to fix an active roof leak; however, note that reinstalling the system can take longer. If the maintenance is limited to a skylight or chimney, we can usually remove just a few panels and leave the racking on the roof. This rarely requires system re-permitting.
Damage caused by weather related events are not covered by the Sunbug or manufacturers warranty, however the issue generally falls under homeowners insurance. Contact us to address any need for panel(s) to be replaced.
The complications associated with an Expansion or “Add-On” to a system are twofold: technical and regulatory.
On the technical side, additional inverters, storage battery units, or even racking for modules need to be compatible with the existing older equipment. In those cases where they are not compatible, this can lead to needing to replace some of the older components to match the newer components benign added, even in cases where the older parts might still be functional.
The regulatory side can be even more complicated. If an existing system is registered in an incentive program, such as the SREC program, it may not be able to be expanded if the program is fixed in size so is may no longer accepting new renewable generation capacity.
And in most cases an expansion that modifies the existing system to make it bigger means the entirety of the system must now comply with contemporary eclectic and fire code. This can mean that older functioning components need to be removed and replaced with newer ones that meet today’s code certifications.
So while expansions are possible, they can be complicated and expensive, which is why Sunbug’s system designers take into account what our clients think might change in the foreseeable future so as to design an array that suits anticipated need for at least the next decade.
SunBug can, in some cases, make additions to your system. Specifically, we may be able to add critter guard, snow guards, or, if you’re an Enphase customer, consumption monitoring.
Critter guards reduce the likelihood of animals nesting under panels and damaging equipment.
Snow guards break up the snow and reduce the probability of “avalanches” coming off the roof and damaging property or injuring people. Neither of these solutions is foolproof. Because these systems are designed to protect the equipment, they can also make maintenance more labor intensive.
Consumption monitoring is a feature that allows customers to estimate their electricity consumption. For Enphase systems, SunBug can add this functionality after the system has been installed. While SunBug is happy to do this installation, please be aware that the process can be somewhat labor intensive.
If you have any questions about these additional features, please fill out the form to contact us.
Warranties transfer automatically from owner to owner and no paperwork is required for them to do so. The solar system does not have its own title and it is considered an addition to your house, just like an HVAC system or other piece of integrated mechanical equipment.
However, there are other components such as monitoring accounts and production incentives that warrant review at the time of home ownership transfer.
- Tell the new homeowner about the system
- Give Sunbug the contact information for the new homeowner so we can update our records at Service@sunbugsolar.com. Please include name, address, and phone number.
- Tell the new homeowner about any production incentives. Note that If you are deciding to keep the SRECs, the new homeowner will not need to do any paperwork however the system will need to keep reporting to the PTS.
- Ask the original homeowner about the system
- Eversource or National Grid customers should execute a new Schedule Z upon eclectic account name change.
- Ask the old homeowner about any ongoing production incentives and if they are included in the sale of the system with the sale of the home.
- Contact us so we can update our records at Service@sunbugsolar.com. Please include name, address, phone number.
- Please review relevant FAQs in our Service + Support pages.
If you are renovating, it’s possible you will need to have a component of your array moved depending on the work being done. If your contractor or builder indicates something needs to be moved, let us know as early in the process as possible so we can get your project onto our schedule.