Friday, June 26, 2015

Solar panel and equipment warranties

Note: this is a revised re-post from my old defunct blog

A year ago I was using the Enlighten web interface for the microinverters on my solar array and noticed immediately that one of the solar panels was dropping out at different times of the day and producing only 1 or 2 Watts.  (Microinverters convert DC from the solar panel to 240 Volts AC that feeds into the building and electric grid).  The Enlighten user interface lets me replay the energy produced by my array throughout the day showing Watts produced per panel and the brightness of each panel representing relative power output.  This system granularity is a very helpful tool and is one of the best features of using micro-inverters because you can isolate and identify issues at specific panels very readily.
screen shot of Enlighten web portal
I emailed Enphase tech support and they responded by saying that they would try uploading new software to the microinverter behind that panel.  (Doesn't it blow you away that they can do that!).  A week later the panel dropped out completely and was no longer producing any power so I called tech support and talked to very helpful person who explained that they had tried the upload and it had not worked so they had already issued a replacement microinverter.  Apparently inverters tend to fail within the 1st 2 years of operation and it is unusual for one to fail after 4+ years.

Enphase inverters have a 15 year warranty and solar panels ALL come standard with 20-25 year warranties.  Once the replacement inverter arrived, it was a relatively simple matter to shut down the array and go up on a couple of ladders with my neighbor and remove the solar panel to access the inverter.  At which point it is largely plug and play to replace and then bolt down the new inverter and solar panel.  Here is then new microinverter:

And now I am back to normal again:  
The value of my solar power system is enhanced by excellent warranties and customer service.  I hope that by sharing this experience I will allay any concerns my readers may have about their potential investment in solar energy.