08/23/2022

Maintenance Plans are Critical for Home Electrification

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4 Min. Read

Home electrification is the next step in the electrification movement, and many homeowners are already adjusting how they buy and use energy. Many have installed solar panels to create electricity on site instead of buying it from the local utility. Electric vehicles, or EVs, are also becoming very popular as people move away from pricey fossil fuels. To supplement these new technologies, batteries, at Home Level 2 chargers, and smart panels are also being installed. This is a lot of new technology that hasn’t been in homes in the past, and, like everything else, these require maintenance.

What is a Maintenance Agreement?

A maintenance agreement is a contract between a homeowner and a certified electrical partner that includes all aspects of the operations and maintenance of a home electrification system. This will have a maintenance plan, scheduled payments, response times in case of failures, and pre-set rates for repairs. A maintenance plan is the portion of the agreement that outlines what maintenance will be performed and how often and is customized for each unique system. Generally, this will include one or two site visits per year where the manufacturer requires maintenance, a detailed visual inspection, and possibly remote monitoring of the system year-round. Monitoring the system allows the maintenance company to identify issues early on and take corrective actions to reduce downtime or make the system more efficient.

Maintenance agreements provide three huge benefits which are guaranteed response time, improved uptime, and improved performance. A response time guarantee ensures that, if the system is having an issue, your maintenance provider will be on site within a specified amount of time to diagnose and, if possible, repair the system.

Improved uptime. This is a measurement of the percentage of time the system is operational, which takes into account responding to the issue and the time it takes to get replacement parts and make repairs.

Improved performance is based on the system’s production and considers uptime and efficiency. The uptime  can be met if a system is operating but only at half capacity. However, how much energy you produce won’t be as high as expected, reducing the system’s return on investment.

Why Perform Maintenance?

Regular maintenance serves four main functions: ensuring the system is safe, providing proper and efficient operation, keeping warranties intact, and reducing the number of failures. A comprehensive maintenance plan will take this into account and the specifics of each system to ensure the highest return on investment (ROI).

Safety

When inspecting a system, electrical contractors take steps to make sure everything is safe from both an electrical and physical standpoint. Solar systems, batteries, and EV chargers run on direct current and at higher voltages than typical residential systems. Because of this, a frayed wire or loose connection could result in a fire. When performing maintenance, electrical contractors check every electrical connection to ensure that each is adequately secured to the manufacturers’ torque specification and may take infrared images to also look for signs of overheating. They also check the nuts, bolts, and clips that hold everything in place in case of a storm or other high-wind event. This prevents items outdoors, such as solar modules, from becoming loose and detaching from the mounting structure, possibly damaging other things where they fall.

Efficiency

Anything that is not properly maintained will have losses in efficiency, and home electrification systems are no different. Cooling systems need to be clean and free of debris, software needs to be updated, solar modules need to be cleaned, and so on. A system properly maintained will operate at peak efficiency so that you get the most out of your system.

Warranties

Most components of a home electrification system come with warranties from the equipment manufacturer. These warranties are in place to ensure that the product is free from defects and can last upwards of 25 years. Some warranties require manufacturer-defined maintenance to be performed or else the warranty is void. Keeping warranties valid assures that equipment will be repaired or replaced in case of failure. They are also important when selling the home, increasing the value of the house and the associated equipment.

Uptime

Uptime is the percentage of time when equipment is operational versus when it is down for either maintenance or a failure. Maintenance can be planned in advance to reduce the downtime and mitigate the impact it has. Repairs, on the other hand, are unexpected and have a much more significant impact on uptime since you must wait for replacement parts to be shipped and installed. If a single piece of equipment is not functioning, it may take down the functionality of other components. For example, if the inverter on a solar system fails, the modules cannot deliver the energy they create, making them useless. In this case, if the battery is used to store the excess energy for later use, this also has limited functionality. Proper maintenance reduces the number of failures to keep uptime as high as possible.

How to Find a Trusted Maintenance Partner

At Qmerit, we are here to help homeowners, building owners, and property managers make the home electrification transition—implementing green electric solutions by leveraging our network of local contractors. Qmerit offers a Certified Solutions Partner (CSP) program. The program allows electrical contractors to learn the latest techniques through in-depth training and continuing education programs. We also provide business coaching workforce development for electrical contractors. For more information, contact us today.

Author: Greg Sowder Greg Sowder President, Qmerit Network