Sunday, 18 March 2012

Mystery sounds - solved ?

We had noticed that under certain conditions we would get some odd rattling sounds from the roof, this only started after the solar panels were installed so we knew it was something to do with them and was rather worrying as it seemed something was loose. The sounds only happened when there was a strong wind blowing from a south or south-east direction which is quite unusual so this has only happened about three times since the panels went up.

I contacted our supplier (EVO energy) after a stormy day in February when the sound was very apparent and they said they would send someone to inspect. The earliest day available was in early March so we booked that up and waited. I re-confirmed the appointment a few days before and they asked if we had scaffolding still up, we of course hadn't as the system had been up for nearly 6 months. The day before the inspection was due some contractors turned up an erected scaffolding, I was a bit surprised.
Scaffold goes up again !

On the day a team of three turned up first thing at 8am and took a good look at the installation. After about 30 mins one of them team came down and explained that the tiles and mountings were very secure and couldn't be the cause of the sound. They suspected that the cable runs were the cause as the slack cable had been laid on the tiles between the panels. I went up and took a look and it was easy to see how the loops of cable could be whipped up by the wind and hit the panels, mountings and tiles. A quick experiment flicking the loose cable against the panels was able to produce a metallic sound something like that we had heard - mystery solved maybe?

The team then removed the bottom row of tiles and cable tied all of the loose cable runs to the mounting rails so that they couldn't flap around any more. They were finished and on there way by around 9:30am. Only time will tell if this was the cause, we will listen carefully next time there is a strong south or south-easterly wind.

Having the scaffolding in place did allow me to take a close look at the condition of the panels and see if they needed cleaning. They were not that dirty but there was a thin film of grime from the damp winter months and some residue from bird droppings, we get rather a lot of resident seagulls in the winter ! I took a bucket of soapy water and a telescopic window cleaner with me and gave the panels a wipe over to see how much effect this would have. It did remove a fair bit of grime so I guess it will make some improvement, I am wondering how easy it will be to clean them without the scaffolding. We have a garage with a flat roof on that side of the house so access is quite easy and relatively safe so I will probably give them a wipe over a couple of times a year.
Panels still looked quite clean after 6 months in place


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