INVERTER REPAIRS - What's your experience ?

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INVERTER REPAIRS - What's your experience ?

Postby Tracker » Thu Feb 11, 2010 4:41 pm

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One of the issues that concerns me about PV installations is the notion that they have to be maintained for 15 years (plus). ( If you gat a rebate )

We buy a Plasma TV and expect that service will be available during it's lifetime. We have a choice with the TV and can take it almost anywhere for service.

BUT - Where do we stand with an inverter that is likely much more expensive than the humble TV, and far more specialised than a silly TV.
Where can you take your inverter to have it serviced, over the NEXT 15 YEARS.posting.php?mode=post&f=8&sid=a33153d2e38d2a6558ed3c29de933c63#

Has anyone found that their Inverter has died, and has needed repair?
How long did it take for the repair?
How happy were you with the "Service".
What brand of GCI was it, and who arranged the service.
If it was under warranty, was it repaired under warranty or was there an excuse like "no warranty for Grid-Induced faults" ie. power surges from the grid...
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Re: INVERTER REPAIRS - What's your experience ?

Postby Inspector » Fri Feb 12, 2010 8:55 am

I've come across an inverter that was faulty from manufacture. It was a SB1100, and the rubber gasket for the front cover was fitted offset, so that it did not make a complete seal around all of the sides (one side was completely unsealed) and thus it had a pool of water inside it. When I took the cover off to check, the water was in very close proximity to the circuit boards inside.

The installer is responsible for installing defective equipment, and in this instance after I phoned the installer to let him know (he was just as surprised as I was!), he replaced it within a couple of weeks, and I'm sure manufacturer's warranty would've been upheld (especially due to the brand's reputation and the fact it couldn't possibly be caused by the installer - I assume - wouldn't the gasket be fixed from the factory?).

That's the only case I've come across where there's been a faulty inverter.
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Re: INVERTER REPAIRS - What's your experience ?

Postby cw nsw » Wed Nov 10, 2010 5:09 pm

Interesting thread topic & premise; I had to go hunting for it ;) nevertheless it is good to see that there aren't a litany of horror stories :)

Having said that, my CMS 2000 inverter "died" last Sunday, (early afternoon), having sent a respectable 5kWh to the grid during the morning. No error message, no lights - absolutely nothing; nor were there any weather events, power surges or the like to cause it grief. System was installed in June and commissioned early July 2010. (12 x Solar Enertech 170 panels on 2 tracks)

I phoned Aussie Solar (installers & retail sister company of CMS) first thing Monday morning & yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon one of the staff walked me thru a simple shut down and start up exercise - nothing happened, not even a blink.

An hour later they phone back to say that a replacement inverter will be delivered around midday next Monday.

Seems a good level of customer service, and the new inverter will carry 5 year warranty from the day of install.
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Re: INVERTER REPAIRS - What's your experience ?

Postby Smurf1976 » Thu Nov 11, 2010 7:43 pm

My understanding, based on the info I received at the time of getting the rebate, was that the panels only need to remain in place for 5 (not 15) years. Maybe that's changed?

Anyway, with the prices of inverters falling steadily I expect they will end up just like TV's and most other consumer electrical goods. Not finanically worth repairing once out of warranty.

With the exception of competent DIY people as well as electricians etc working on their own appliances at home, repairing appliances isn't common these days. A service call plus even a few parts ends up costing at least half the price of a new appliance. If it's a few years old, most consider that to be a bad deal financially and hence just replace it.

Plasma TV's have been the "hot" item in recent years. But even now, repairing one that's over 5 years old would be questionable economically. Prices have fallen and today's model is HD and possibly 3D as well. Or if you just want one equivalent to the 5 year old TV you already have then they are now relatively cheap - repairing the old one is likely to cost a substantial portion of the price of a replacement.

25 years ago there was a substantial industry repairing VCR's. But toward the end of the popularity of that technology, the price of a brand new 6 head Hi-Fi machine was less than just the cost of a service call. Hence nobody wanted to fix their old 2 head mono VCR when they could get a better one, brand new with warranty, far cheaper.

Personally, I like fixing things and am licensed to do electrical work so for me, the cost of repair is that of the parts only in most cases. And I'd agree that it's a terrible waste of materials, pollution etc to throw things away due to a minor fault. But for most people, repair is a dud deal financially these days.

Even things like lawnmowers, the price of which never seems to rise, are becoming marginal as a professional repair item as labour costs have risen faster than the price of a new mower. No surprise then to see that the number of specialist "mower shops" seems to be in decline.

Same with just about everything. If the Chinese get good at building cars then I have no doubt that we will see the end of much automotive repair. With new cars cheaper, second hand will also be cheaper and any car over about 10 years old will end up worth little more than its scrap value such that even a minor repair will not be worthwhile financially. In other words, cheaper new cars from China = more new car sales = shorter life expectancy for the average vehicle (ie cars will increasingly be scrapped due to poor economics of ongoing use and maintenance rather than because it has actually worn out as such).
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Re: INVERTER REPAIRS - What's your experience ?

Postby Inspector » Thu Nov 11, 2010 11:57 pm

I've now come across a second SMA that has failed - this one with quite a fatal experience - capacitor inside exploded, leaving leaving carbon throughout the entire inside of it. I took a photo I might attach at some later stage.

Thinking back on my previous post (Feb this year) I wonder if it was in fact caused by the installer as he had "hard-wired" it instead of using the supplied plug/socket connector. He may have dislodged the gasket while replacing the front cover. All I know is it's all up and running again, and I didn't hear back from the installer whether warranty was refused or not.
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Re: INVERTER REPAIRS - What's your experience ?

Postby Joey » Fri Nov 12, 2010 5:43 am

The fantastic part about buying an SMA product is that you can contact them directly , I think in the next few years a lot of the suppliers ( fly by night operations will be long gone ) so there will be no other option but to contact the manufacturer.
With SMA being so expensive they probably wont become a disposable item like a lot of the cheaper rubbish that has been installed around the place lately , so I doubt it will ever be an issue having an SMA repaired but some of the others are going to be interesting.
I have looked inside a lot of the inverters being sold cheap from China , wont mention specific names but I can say with all certainly the capacitors some other components are the same type , brand etc used in a lot of disposable electronics that are lucky to last 5 years.
I know for a fact that SMA and other German inverter manufacturers have many of their components including Electrolytic caps custom made to their very high standards so will not suffer the failures we are going to see in the near future.
Soon we will see why there is such a price difference I promise :)
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Re: INVERTER REPAIRS - What's your experience ?

Postby karlajensen » Sat Nov 13, 2010 12:01 am

there are several discussions from manufacturers and they all freely admit that caps in inverters will fail before 10years service.
to specify a much higher rating is not much good as its the cycling that kills them (apparently)

Powerone just released a 10 and 12KW inverter that has done away with caps and carries a 25 year warranty.

SHould my CMS 2000 fail I know CMS will replace it no problems, outside warranty, i'll simply replace it.

By that time it will have moved 27,000KWhrs + to the grid hence an inverter cost of 0.05c /KW hr produced. Pretty steep.....
Come breakdown post warranty, i'll simply replace the CAPS and it will carry on for another 5 years or so.
Should that fail I anticipate the whole rig will be replaceable by something that doesnt need caps for about 1/4 the money I paid for it in the first place.

At the end of the day I expect regardless of the manufacturer, I agree with the above post, pretty much treated like a toaster and thrown away.
8E + 8W + 8Nth Garage CMS2000-1 with ~4500W in 3 strings of 8.
Fronius Galvo 3.0 inverter with ~6.6kW panels
12x ZNShine + 12x 180W Solarfuns both NW + ZNShine 12x190 facing SE.
Edwards Solar Hot water


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