Phase 3: Contractor Selection, Solar Installation
Monitor and Maintain Your System

Though fairly simple for PV systems, maintenance is essential to long-term management of your solar system. Modules may need to be cleaned, but more importantly, meters and inverters need to be monitored to ensure that the system is operating as expected. Your project budget should include funds for monitoring, ongoing maintenance costs and parts replacement. Your system installer often provides services for maintaining solar systems and you can contact them for an estimate for what that ongoing cost might be.

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While fairly simple for PV systems, maintenance is essential to long-term management of your organization’s solar system. Modules may need to be cleaned, but more importantly, meters and inverters need to be monitored to ensure that the system is operating as expected. Various monitoring systems are available, offering options from instant email alerts when an inverter malfunctions to online daily performance monitoring. A good monitoring system enables a system manager to minimize down time, protecting the participant’s investment. The project budget should include funds for monitoring, ongoing maintenance costs (specify how many years you are willing to prepay for operations and maintenance, or “O&M”) and warranty parts replacement. In particular, it is helpful to include a reserve fund for future inverter replacement, which might occur in 10 to 15 years. Standard monitoring systems can be basic, web-based portals. If you require more, such as a graphical user interface or touchscreen kiosks or a monitor in the lobby, make sure you scope this out in the RFP package.