Solar inverter repairs
More often than not, whenever you have a problem with your solar system, the inverter is most likely the problem. Having the only moving part in the solar system, the inverter is prone to tears and breakdowns.
That’s why you’ll need to invest in inverter repairs and sometimes, replacements at least once or twice. Here’s a guide on how to go about the repair process.
It depends on the state of your warranty. If your inverter is still within its warranty period, your solar installer or the manufacturer can help you (Confirm with your warranty terms). Most manufacturers will repair your faulty inverter within its first 5 – 10 years.
If your inverter is well past its warranty period, you’ll have to contact a solar installer near you for help. A few things you should have in hand when consulting an expert for help include:
- The make of the inverter
- Inverter serial number and model
- Error message displayed (if any) on the inverter screen
- Inverter original date of installation
What companies repair solar inverters?
In most cases, your inverter manufacturer handles the solar repairs for their products. Companies such as Fronius, SolarEdge, Huawei, Enphase, SMA and Sungrow offer inverter repairs as part of their warranty.
All these are huge companies that have been in the market for almost a decade and have proven that they’re here to stay.
There are numerous other small companies, but most of them have gone out of business, or they’re on the verge of doing so. As such, anyone who gets their inverter from them may not enjoy repairs from their warranty.
This is why you should choose your inverter from a Tier 1 manufacturer.
Should I repair or replace my solar inverter?
It depends. Solar inverters are among the most expensive components of your solar system. And so, you can’t afford wasting money on their repair when they need to be replaced, or vice versa. Therefore, your decision for either should be based on your long-term option assessment.
If your inverter is old (more than 10 years), its efficiency is definitely much lower compared to a new one. Therefore, when it breaks down, replacing the system is the better option long-term.
You will also have to look into the cost of repairing vs. that of replacing. Although repair costs can be cheaper, without a warranty, paying for repairs every two months will ultimately affect your finances. Replacing the system is the better option for such a case.
However, if you have a relatively new solar inverter, most faults detected can be easily repaired, saving you tons of money on replacement. If the inverter is still within the lifespan of its warranty, consult the manufacturer first.
They’ll diagnose the inverter and repair or replace it for free depending on the problem.
Does my inverter warranty cover repairs?
Mostly, Yes! Depending on your manufacturer, most inverters come with a 5 – 15 years warranty and may cover repairs, replacement, logistics and maintenance but not labour. Each warranty may differ slightly.
Some manufacturers today (Fronius) are also offering a new ‘5 + 5’ warranty package, where they cover your labour and parts costs over the first 5 years, then resort to the 10 years ‘parts only’ warranty after that period.
Keep in mind; there are some repairs that your warranty won’t cover. Errors caused as a result of poor installations or other external factors like weather are usually not covered by the warranty.
You’ll therefore have to confirm with the terms of your agreement on your warranty. You also need to know which actions can result in the violation of your warranty, to ensure you don’t miss out on free repairs.
How much does it cost to replace a solar inverter?
Replacing your solar inverter may cost you anywhere from $1,000 to $1,500 on average, depending on the brand, model and size of your inverter. Smaller inverters can cost you just $300, while bigger ones from high-end brands can cost you up to $5,000.
Keep in mind; you’ll only have to pay this if the inverter has outlived its warranty. If it’s within the warranty, most manufacturers will simply replace it for free.
Why do solar inverters fail?
There are numerous reasons why your inverters may fail. The main reasons, however, are extreme heat and humidity, poor maintenance and faulty installations.
Solar inverters are usually very sensitive to heat. Too much heat reduces the efficiency of the electrical components in the inverter forcing the inverter failure. Extreme changes in humidity levels in the environment is also likely to cause the failures, especially for outdoor inverters.
The best way to avoid this is to ensure the inverter filters are always clean and in an open location for maximum airflow.
One of the most important factors to consider when installing your solar system is its capacity. Your inverter should be able to support the voltage and current coming through from the solar panels. If the installation wasn’t done well, your inverter falls victim to over-voltage and under-voltage which destroys the inverter.
As a rule, get a slightly bigger inverter if you’re in an area that generates high electricity and a smaller inverter if you’re in a cooler area.
Immediately after a fault in the grid, your inverter may stop working. This is usually a result of sudden high or low voltage, and the inverter should restart by itself. If it doesn’t restart, your solar production halts and hence the failure.
To avoid this, make use of circuit breakers or a good fuse.
Maximum power point tracking (MMPT)
To get the most out of inverters, modern solar systems utilize MPPT technology. This technology connects several strings of PV modules to one solar inverter. And because different solar cells generate varying outputs at a time, the MPPT tracker keeps adjusting its position to ensure solar panels receive the maximum power at all times.
Any fault in this MPPT system directly affects the solar inverter. And so, that could be the reason why your inverter keeps failing.
5 – 10 years. While some solar inverters boast of around 20 years lifespan, most of them hardly reach that point. You’ll have to replace your inverter at least once, within the lifespan of your solar panels.
Author: Ben McInerney is a renewable energy enthusiast with the goal of helping more Australians understand solar systems to make the best choice before they purchase. Having an accredited solar installer in the family helps give Ben access to the correct information, which allows him to break it down and make it easily understandable to the average homeowner.