The warranty has expired on your solar PV system – what now?
One of the attractive features of a good quality solar PV system is the guarantee of long-term performance under the protection of lengthy warranties. The warranty cover for the panels is typically 10-12 years and 5 years for inverters, with the option to extend to 10 years.
You may not have thought as far ahead as 10 years but given that your ROI calculation is likely to be based on a 20 or 25 year lifespan and with many existing systems still performing after 30 years it is worth considering what will happen when a fault arises outside of the warranty period.
Repair or replace?
When designing a solar PV system it is important to select Tier 1 manufacturers that have a long established reputation in the industry and who will be able to honour their warranties. Such manufacturers will also be able to offer repairs or replacements once your inverter or panel is no longer covered.
The advantage of getting an inverter repaired is that it will cost less than a replacement and some manufacturers will even cover the cost of shipping. Replacement will, however, give you a brand new warranty and in some instances it might be a wiser decision based on performance and efficiency.
If you own a solar PV system then you will probably be aware that your array is comprised of panels that are made up of cells and that each panel is linked in sequence to the inverter via a string as shown. The performance of the entire string is determined by the output of the lowest performing panel or cell within that string. This means if a panel or even part of a panel (i.e. a cell) within a string on your system fails then this can have an impact across the entire string, producing up to 30% losses.
Each string must comprise of the same panels in order to minimise losses. This means a damaged panel can’t simply be swapped for another, unless it is swapped with an identical panel. What we can do, however, is swap a string of panels and keep the original working panels from the string as back-up replacements should any other failure occur within the system. This is a particularly useful method in cases where there is a failure in the system but the original manufacturer or panel no longer exists.