Solar panel repair isn’t something the average business or homeowner has on their radar. Photovoltaic (PV) technology is should be able to withstand:
- Heavy usage
- Power surges
- Falling hail
However, any number of things can (and will) happen to your PV panels over the 25 years of their warrantied lifetimes. Worse still, a surprising number of these issues technically lie outside the manufacturer’s warranty.
If your own PV installation is dealing with issues that solar panel cleaning can’t resolve, this comprehensive guide will help you navigate the repair and replacement process – complete with information on:
- Solar Panel Repair Defined
- Common Solar Repairs and Issues
- How to Repair Damaged Solar Panels
- Costs to Repair Solar Systems
- Who Is Responsible for Solar Repairs?
- How to Pick a Good Provider for Solar Panel Repairs
Let’s dive in.
Solar Panel Repair Defined
Solar panel repair involves the full spectrum of fixes, upgrades, and replacements required to bring a broken or underperforming installation back online. In some cases, it’s just a single solar panel that needs intervention. Other times, technicians may need to repair or replace other components in the system, including inverters, batteries, or electrical wiring. This level of troubleshooting is often called “solar system repair.”
But wait. Why do PV systems malfunction in the first place?
Common Solar System Repairs and Issues
With no moving parts, solar panels experience very little wear and tear. This is precisely why manufacturers can confidently ship their modules with 25 years of warranty protection. However, that warranty coverage doesn’t protect you from a laundry list of factors that can negatively impact your installation’s performance, including:
- Falling debris
- Shoddy workmanship
- Power surges
- Bird droppings and pests
- Tremors and natural disasters
(For a full list of potential problems, be sure to read our companion guide on Solar Panel Maintenance).
The other major components in the system also come with warranties, although they tend to be shorter. For example:
- Batteries normally come with 5 to 10 years of protection
- Inverters are covered from 5 to 12 years on average
Then there are other parts like wires, switches, nuts, and bolts – all of which can malfunction – none of which normally ship with warranties. So even if your panels continue performing as promised, you’ll still need to bring in a technician to repair or replace various components as they reach the ends of their useful lifetimes.
Can Damaged Solar Panels Be Repaired?
The short answer is “yes.” There are solar appliances repair companies that specialize in fixing a range of PV components – including broken modules. However, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Solar appliance repair companies don’t always provide removal or re-installation services, so you’ll still need to find a technician to help with these steps.
- Most broken panels go off-site for repairs. If you have a string inverter, one missing module could severely hurt your installation’s performance due to the way older PV systems are designed.
- Sending your modules to a third-party vendor could void the original manufacturer’s warranty. But you might qualify for a newer (albeit shorter) warranty from the solar panel repair technician.
Leaving a cracked panel in place may sound tempting. After all, it can probably still generate some power. However, exposure to the elements could lead to electrical shortages or worse if water seeps into the cracks.
By contrast, replacing the module eliminates these risks. It also reduces the amount of time your system is off-line since a solar panel repair technician can remove the old module and install a new one in a single visit. Installing replacement panels often provides a power boost if the modules being added rely on newer technology.
While repairing a broken panel is possible, it is not recommended.
If you’re still on the fence, consider this blunt analysis from the Solar Engineering Group¹:
Costs to Repair Solar Systems
Prices vary depending on the scope of the issue and which components require troubleshooting. The location of your PV system installation can matter. Ground-mounted solar panels are easier to access, repair, and replace than rooftop modules are.
However, there are rough averages for the industry.
1. Solar Panel Repair Costs
According to the home improvement platform, Modernize, solar panel removal costs anywhere from $300 to $500 per module. If you are repairing a broken panel, the expected costs can be $200 to $1,000.
The cost for replacement panels depends on current retail market prices. But according to Consumer Affairs, you should budget $200 to $250 per module. Labor costs are harder to pin down. But EnergySage estimates that when you combine labor and hardware together, you’ll spend $2.40 to $3.22 per installed watt. With most residential solar modules rated between 250 and 400 watts, this means paying between $600 and $1,288 total per panel.
2. Solar Inverter Repair Costs
According to the contracting portal, Thumbtack, you can expect to pay $1,200 to $2,500 for a new string inverter and $100 to $250 for a microinverter. However, you also need to add between $250 to $500 for labor.
3. Solar Battery Repair Costs
Batteries range from $5,000 to $7,000. But according to EnergySage, you can easily spend double this amount once you factor in labor costs.
Who Is Responsible for Solar Repairs?
It depends on the issue. If the panel itself is faulty, for example, the responsibility likely falls to the manufacturer. You should qualify for a free replacement module – although labor costs will likely be an out-of-pocket expense. However, all of this is assuming the original manufacturer is still in business, and thus, in a position to honor its warranty.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.
If shoddy installation workmanship is the source of the issue, one can make a good case that the installer is responsible for any repairs. This is especially true if that installer offers workmanship warranties or performance guarantees.
However, you may want to think twice before working with that contractor again. If they did a poor job the first time, you could be setting yourself up for more disappointment. In addition, the installer may be more incentivized to fix the panel instead of replacing it – keeping costs low for them.
This again assumes the original installer is still in business by the time you need help. If they don’t exist anymore, then neither does your protection.
In all other cases, repairs and replacements will likely be out-of-pocket for you – the system owner. However, solar panel repair is not a DIY job since you’d be working with:
- High-voltage electrical equipment (often grid-connected)
- Permitting and utility approvals that require licensed technicians
- Safety gear and harnesses (when troubleshooting rooftop systems)
In addition, opening up the hood yourself potentially voids any warranty agreements you might still have. As such, handling repairs on your own simply isn’t worth the personal, legal, or financial risk.
You’re much better off outsourcing the job to a professional solar repair technician.
How to Pick a Good Provider for Solar Panel Repairs
There are many criteria to consider. But the most important ones are:
- Experience and qualifications: given the safety concerns outlined above, you want licensed professionals with extensive experience in electrical engineering.
- Speed and availability: finding someone to do the job on short notice can be a real challenge – particularly if there are warranty agreements involved. Always look for a service team that can do the job quickly and with minimal paperwork.
- Transparency and pricing: you want a solar appliance repair team that offers transparent pricing with no surprises and zero haggling. This can be difficult since the average customer has no idea what solar repairs should cost. Thankfully, you do now.
Let Us Help You Find the Right Solar System Repair Team for the Job
PV technology is marketed as a low-maintenance investment that delivers nothing but benefits for decades. But the reality is very different. Although solar is cheaper, cleaner, and more durable than nearly every other power-generation technology on the planet – it’s not immune to everything.
If you’re facing issues with your own PV system, we can help. Our matching platform can quickly connect you with qualified, knowledgeable, and affordable solar panel repair technicians in your area who can help troubleshoot whatever problems you’re facing – from cracked modules to faulty inverters to dust build-up.
Use our solar matching technology to find the right team for the job. That way, you can go back to saving money and helping the planet as quickly as possible.
To get started, schedule a free demo with us today.