Solar Operations and Maintenance for Commercial Properties

KONG Company, courtesy of Namaste Solar.

By Matt Herman, co-owner, director of O&M Services, Namaste Solar

Matt Herman

There are many factors to consider when selecting a solar partner to install a system on your commercial property. A key qualification is whether they have an Operations and Maintenance (O&M) or service department. Since solar is a long-term asset with an expected lifecycle of 30-plus years, ongoing O&M should be considered upfront.

A trusted O&M partner provides peace of mind for your investment. They can monitor production to make sure your system is maximizing its energy output. They can also troubleshoot problems if they arise, provide system repairs, and navigate equipment warranty claims.

Look for a vertically integrated solar company that incorporates the project development, design, engineering, procurement, construction, and O&M teams all within one commercial department. This allows for experience to flow from one team to another, optimizing each project. 

O&M Services

Once your system has been built and energized, it is handed off to the O&M team for monitoring and maintenance services throughout its life. A smooth customer handoff to the O&M team is critical to the long-term success of your system. The scope of ongoing O&M services is normally flexible and can be tailored to meet your specific needs. Below are some typical services that should be considered to ensure ongoing returns on your investment.

Monitoring & Preventative O&M

Routine monitoring and preventative maintenance are key to ensuring your system is operating at peak performance. Your O&M partner can proactively repair minor issues and maintain equipment warranties. Preventative maintenance is scheduled work performed under a long-term O&M contract, and these services can include:

  • Annual preventative maintenance: An annual or biannual comprehensive site visits to identify and resolve safety, production, or workmanship concerns, and to perform manufacturer-recommended maintenance activities. A detailed report should be provided upon completion of the visit. 
  • Remote monitoring: Weekly remote monitoring of your system and coordination to remedy any issues. This allows for quicker troubleshooting, minimizes system downtime, and provides peace of mind to system owners and facilities staff.

Corrective Maintenance

Just like any building or vehicle asset, a solar array requires repairs from time to time. Solar owners should plan for an unexpected service visit at least every two years. A few examples of these visits include:

  • System outages: The most common maintenance need is a system outage due to electrical faults within the building service. Your solar partner can help reset the system, or qualified onsite staff can assist with breaker resets to eliminate mobilization fees.
  • Equipment warranty claims: Your solar partner should be able to assist in filing and completing equipment warranty claims with manufacturers. These claims are typically related to inverters. The equipment is covered by the manufacturer while the labor for troubleshooting and repair is typically billable. 

Inverter Replacements

You should expect to replace the system’s inverter(s) by year 15. A reputable solar O&M partner can support this work. 

Insurance Claim Support

Ensure your solar partner is capable of supporting repairs related to insurance claims such as hail, wind, or fire damage. Ideally, these issues never come up, but knowing your O&M provider is qualified and staffed to assist with these situations can create peace of mind. 

Solar is an asset that can provide significant financial benefits over its 30-year lifecycle. Especially if you properly maintain the system with ongoing O&M activities. Look for a local solar partner that can give you the best services up front during design and installation of your system as well as high-quality services once your system is up and running with an experienced in-house O&M team. 


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