According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the industry standard for solar photovoltaic (PV) panel warranties is 20 years, while most inverters only ship with 10 years of warranty protection.[i] This means you’ll almost certainly need to pay for solar inverter repair at least once over your PV system’s lifetime.
Inverter servicing is a cost that catches many solar customers off-guard. And it can extend the original payback period – while lowering the expected return on investment (ROI).
Use this guide to navigate the solar power inverter repair landscape so that your own clean energy investment delivers more predictable returns.
There are no industry standards for preventative maintenance frequency. However, regular servicing allows you to catch and correct problems early on, which is why you should always have a maintenance roadmap in place.
All You Need to Know About Repairing Solar Inverters
PV panels generate direct current (DC) electricity, but most consumer appliances use alternating current (AC). Solar inverters are responsible for converting this power so you can harness the free energy hitting your roof.
When an inverter fails, your solar panels still produce electricity. But none of the energy generated is usable.
How Often do I Need to Repair my Solar Inverter?
Every PV installation is unique; thus, there is no universal timetable for solar inverter servicing.
- Solar panels are normally covered for 20 to 25 years
- Inverters come with 10 to 25 years (depending on the technology)
- Battery storage solutions typically ship with 5 or 10 years
Failures and malfunctions are inevitable which means you should budget at least one replacement or repair into the total lifetime budget of your investment.
But don’t servicing costs fall under normal solar inverter warranties? Not necessarily.
When Does the Warranty Apply?
While nearly all solar inverters come with warranty protection, it’s often difficult to qualify for any number of reasons:
- The original manufacturer is no longer in business and can’t honor the warranty
- The manufacturer is in business – but no longer makes the part you need
- The problem is outside the coverage scope (i.e. bird droppings or corrosion)
- Previous solar inverter servicing (or tampering) voided the warranty
Warranty protection is important. And it should factor into your decision-making when first buying a solar inverter. But over the 25+ years of a PV system’s useful lifetime, there are many things that can render inverter warranties useless. So be prepared to pay for solar panel inverter repair out-of-pocket if necessary.
When Does a Solar Inverter Need to be Replaced?
It may be tempting to automatically replace or repair your inverter at the end of its warranty coverage. But inverters can last much longer than expected – and you may end up wasting money with premature servicing.
Instead, look for sudden dips in your PV system’s performance. Reduced solar power generation is a clear sign something is wrong. It’s customary to check the panels first to see if they need servicing or cleaning. In fact, a faulty inverter can actually damage solar modules if there’s a sudden power surge or voltage imbalance.
Once the panels are ruled out, checking the solar inverter is the next logical step. Unfortunately, finding the right team to inspect either can be challenging – especially if the original installer is no longer in business or doesn’t provide PV system maintenance as part of their service.
So again, it’s best to mentally (and financially) prepare yourself if you need to bring in inverter repair technicians.
How to Pick the Best Provider for Solar Inverter Repairs
As a Residential Solar Customer
You would check with the original manufacturer – assuming the inverter is still under warranty. Note that this would only give you a replacement best. You’d still need someone to remove the old inverter before installing the new one.
Thereafter, you would check with the original installer – assuming they’re still in business, they offer this specific service, and the first experience with them was positive. Otherwise, you’d have to do a Google search of “solar array maintenance inverter replacement.”
As a Commercial Solar Customer
The same basic steps apply, with you reaching out to the original manufacturer and installer before doing a Google search.
As an Asset Management Company
You should check your operations and maintenance (O&M) service agreement to see whether inverter repair or replacement is included. Otherwise, you would follow the same basic steps outlined for residential and commercial solar customers.
However, there’s a problem with these approaches.
“Inverter” is an umbrella term that covers many different technologies – including the aforementioned string and microinverters. Plus depending on the model, your own inverter may also include power point tracking, anti-islanding protection, or any number of additional features. So even with a well-designed Google search, it’s difficult to find someone who is:
- Experienced enough to work with high voltage electrical equipment
- Licensed to work with utility grid-connected infrastructure
- Competent in the inverter technology specific to your installation
- Available to service your solar inverter – especially on short notice
Fortunately, there is now an easier way to quickly find knowledgeable and certified inverter technicians – regardless of the underlying problem.
Solar Inverter Repair Made Easy
365 Pronto is the world’s first on-demand platform for matching solar asset owners with experienced service technicians. Every PV installation has a unique “DNA” – based on variables like size, location, technology, and manufacturer. By analyzing these attributes (and any other project requirements you include), 365 Pronto is able to quickly match you with the right solar repair team – with fewer hassles and better results – all at affordable, transparent pricing.
To see our solar matching platform in action, schedule a free demo with us today.