An overview of solar O&M plans and providers

Solar O&M plans and providers

For many, a solar installation is a "set-and-forget" investment, requiring very little maintenance over 25+ years. That would be nice, but it's not always the case. Problems may arise with your system, from damaged panels to faulty wiring. If you're looking for extra peace of mind, one upgrade to consider is a solar operations and maintenance (O&M) plan.

O&M plans are protection plans for your solar investment. You can think of them as a sort of "homeowner's insurance" for your solar panels; if a tree falls on your house, a home insurance plan will likely cover a large portion of the repair costs –  the same is true of solar energy system repairs under O&M plans. In this article, we'll look at the most common types of O&M plans, the benefits and services of O&M plans, and the major O&M providers in the solar industry.

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Key takeaways

  • Solar O&M plans protect your solar panel system and fix problems as soon as they occur so you can continue generating energy from the sun. 

  • Different O&M options include O&M plans with a dedicated provider, services directly from your solar panel system installer, and inverter monitoring. 

  • Three of the most common plans from O&M providers include preventative plans, corrective plans, and real-time plans. 

  • Many beneficial services come with having a separate O&M plan, including regular site visits, pest control, cleaning, electrical system checks, solar inverter maintenance, and reputable repair personnel. 

  • Some top O&M providers include SunSystem Technology and Sunup Solar Tech Services.

  • Visit the EnergySage Marketplace to receive custom solar quotes from reputable solar installers to help reduce the maintenance requirements for your solar panel system.

Both monitoring and servicing solar panel systems are complicated and handled at several levels by different types of companies. The three key O&M options to be aware of are dedicated solar O&M providers, installer servicing, and inverter monitoring.

Dedicated solar O&M providers

The most involved way to approach solar O&M is with a dedicated provider. These are third-party companies–separate from your installer or any equipment manufacturer–that you pay a recurring fee. In exchange, the company monitors and services your solar panel system to keep it running as smoothly as possible.

Under the umbrella of dedicated O&M providers, you can choose from several types of plans. Three of the most common plans are preventative, corrective, and real-time. Preventative maintenance plans consist of regularly scheduled inspections of your system to make sure everything is working properly. Conversely, corrective plans focus more on repairs: your O&M provider will only act if they detect a problem with your system, such as a low-producing panel. Lastly, real-time plans use active data monitoring to go beyond reacting to problems and regular servicing – they use their data to predict system breakdowns and then prioritize the right actions and resources to stop problems before they seriously impact your system's electricity production.

Solar installer O&M services

If you need maintenance performed on your solar panel system, you don't need a dedicated O&M plan to get it done. You can usually contact your installation company directly to have your solar panel system serviced and repaired. Depending on the warranties that come with your system, you may be entitled to reduced-cost (or even free!) service from your installer should something go wrong.

Sometimes, your local solar installer may have gone out of business, meaning they cannot service your equipment even if you're within the original warranty period. If this is the case, diagnosing and fixing issues with your solar panel system can be challenging without an O&M coverage plan. However, that doesn't mean you will be stuck with an inoperational solar panel system: other local installers may offer O&M services for systems they didn't initially install. Not all companies provide this service, but those that do can help with any physical repairs for a service fee. Both small, local solar panel installation companies and national installers may work with a dedicated O&M provider to save you the trouble of getting involved in the maintenance of your system. 

If your installer doesn't work directly with a third-party O&M provider, knowing when your system needs work done isn't always straightforward. This leads us to our third monitoring solution: inverter monitoring.

Inverter monitoring

While not an all-in-one solution for addressing performance issues with your solar panel system, most major solar inverter manufacturers provide built-in solar production monitoring services with their products. You can use this data to understand when your system's underperforming and take steps to involve your solar installer (or another local company if your installer is out of business). Companies like Enphase Energy, SolarEdge Technologies, and SMA America all provide rich data on your system's production, and you can download their associated mobile apps to your phone or tablet to view your solar panel systems' statistics at any time. 

Inverter monitoring is helpful, but unless you're an experienced electrician or solar technician, it can be challenging to identify and diagnose a system issue solely through your inverter monitoring.

A strong solar O&M plan provides many benefits to your solar panel system. When you're comparing your options, consider whether the following services are covered:

Site visits

O&M plans often include regular times throughout the year for your provider to come and physically inspect your solar system. From these site visits, your O&M provider will be able to diagnose any problems with your system and take action to bring your electricity production back up to normal.

Pest control

A common nuisance with solar panel systems is pests: birds and rodents may nest in and around your array, leading to the potential for electrical damage to your system. Critter guards help to alleviate this issue, but O&M companies often include pest control in their plans to counteract any problems.


A well-designed solar panel system rarely needs cleaning (regular rainwater is usually sufficient!) However, if you live in an area with high amounts of particulates and dust, an O&M provider can clean your system if your panels are underproducing due to dust or any other material dirtying your panels.

Electrical system checks

Electrical systems connecting your solar array to your home and the power grid must also be maintained. O&M plans should cover proactive checks to all of your wiring and electrical systems to help make sure that your system is supplying the right amount of electricity to your home or business.

Solar inverter maintenance

Solar inverters (particularly string inverters) have a shorter lifespan than solar panels and must be closely monitored for degradation. A good solar O&M plan will pay extra attention to your solar inverters to ensure your panels will continue converting direct current (DC) energy from your panels into usable electricity.

Hiring solar crew and personnel

To complete maintenance projects on your solar array, specialists and panel experts must work with your system. A good solar O&M plan will include a network of reputable repair crews to perform any regular or one-off maintenance you need.

If your installer is available and their labor warranty still covers you, it is always best to first consult them for system maintenance – they know your system setup and equipment best, and they already have a relationship with you. Even so, there are a few reasons why you may want to consider a separate O&M package.

Solar installers make most of their money from an initial installation. As a result, some companies may prioritize working with new customers over maintenance on existing installs, whereas a service package prioritizes your already-installed system. For the same reason, solar installers may send their best talent to work on new installations rather than fix your damaged solar panels or inverters.

While many companies offer O&M plans for commercial solar panel installations requiring more maintenance, the residential market is more consolidated. If you'd like a dedicated solar O&M plan, there are two big names in the space: SunSystem Technology and Sunup Solar Tech Services.

SunSystem Technology

The leader in the residential O&M space, SunSystem Technology, works with solar installation companies as their dedicated O&M partner. They use their nationally-deployed technician network to diagnose and address problems in any solar installation quickly.

In late 2016, SunSystem Technology acquired Next Phase Solar, Enphase Energy's operations and maintenance division, cementing its place as the market share leader in residential O&M.

Sunup Solar Tech Services

Another leader in the space is Sunup Solar Tech Services. Unlike SunSystem Technology's model of working through solar installers, Sunup lets residential customers choose directly from three tiers of membership plans, increasing panel cleaning frequency and troubleshooting services throughout the tiers.

Sunup Solar Tech Services advertises various services to homeowners, including system repairs, panel washing, monitoring, and general maintenance.

Commercial and residential solar panel systems vary in terms of size and equipment. Because of this, the logistics behind your O&M plan depend on whether your system is a small-scale rooftop system or a large commercial project.

Plans for larger commercial projects focus more on preventative strategies, while rooftop installations are typically more "reactive." Residential systems are typically much smaller than their commercial counterparts. In the event of a problem, a small crew can be easily dispatched by an O&M company to repair a system at your home.

Installing the right solar equipment and working with a reputable solar installer will help reduce the maintenance requirements of a solar panel system. On the EnergySage Marketplace, you can receive up to seven custom solar quotes from local installers. These quotes will include information about the proposed equipment, including the number of panels, type of inverter, and more. If you're interested in a particular O&M plan or want to understand better what each installer offers regarding long-term monitoring and maintenance, you can leave a note in your profile or ask installers directly through our messaging system.

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  • Access the lowest prices from installers near you
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