Panel and Microinverter Replacement

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Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

Panel and microinverter replacements are rare, but at Project Solar we have established efficient processes to smoothly and quickly replace damaged or defective solar equipment.

Project Solar’s standard equipment includes Enphase microinverters and Q-Cells 340 W panels. Both microinverters and panels follow a similar warranty claim process, but I will outline the basics of each. 

Enphase IQ7+ microinverter

Even though microinverter and panel replacement situations are few and far between, Project Solar is prepared to make the process as smooth as possible. Your system will be producing at its full capacity again before you know it!

Read straight through the article if you want to know about both microinverter and panel replacement processes, or skip ahead by clicking on sections that apply to your situation. 

1. Microinverter Replacement

2. Solar Panel Replacement

3. Conclusion

    Microinverter Replacement

    Microinverters are a vital part of your solar system. They convert direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) at the panel level. This conversion allows homes to actually use solar’s energy. 

    Project Solar exclusively uses Enphase IQ7+ microinverters. These Enphase microinverters have strong 25-year warranties and are considered the best of the best in the solar industry. As an Enphase customer, you will use the Enphase Enlighten app to monitor your system’s status and production levels.

    With the Enlighten app, you can know exactly how much energy your solar system is producing, even when you're away from home.

    Enphase Enlighten app

    Since Enlighten allows you to monitor energy production, you should use it as a tool to identify your system's issues. If the app shows that a panel is not efficiently producing energy, that is a clear sign that there’s some kind of issue with your equipment.

    Troubleshooting for Microinverters

    If Enlighten sends you a “Production Issue” error report this means that your site production has fallen below the “Production Threshold” or that Enphase has detected a significant hardware issue with the system.

    In other words, the “Production Issue” system status indicates that your system may require more serious maintenance.

    In this situation, you can start troubleshooting the system by going to Enlighten's "Devices" tab. Microinverters with a production issue will be displayed with a flag. You’ll need to click the status link of an individual microinverter to see its current issues. 

    If you can't find any microinverters with production issues on the "Devices" list, the system's “Production Threshold” settings may be too tight. This is probably the case if you find that your system frequently flags a “Production Issue” due to weather, so you may wish to lower the threshold, so you’re not bothered by false alarms. (Enphase, “How Do I Troubleshoot a Production Issue System Status?”)

    If needed, contact Enphase Customer Support [(877)797-4743] for further troubleshooting steps.

    Enphase Enlighten microinverter monitoring

    Enphase Warranty—What it Does and Does Not Cover

    It is important to be aware that not all damages or defects are covered by Enphase’s 25-year product warranty. Here I’ll share a few situations that are not covered by the warranty, but I suggest reviewing the microinverters’ warranty in full before making a claim (Enphase IQ7 warranty).

    The limited warranty does not cover

    • Cosmetic, technical, or design defects
    • Shortcomings which do not materially influence or affect energy production or the product’s function of the product
    • Any defects or parts requiring replacement due to ordinary wear and tear, corrosion, rust or stains, scratches, or dents on the casing or paintwork

    Naturally, Enphase will need to confirm that your microinverter defect is covered by the warranty. If it is, Enphase will repair or replace the defective inverter free of charge. They will also pay for the shipment of a covered product to and from your home.

    However, Enphase does not cover the cost of removing or reinstalling their products. For this reason, if you notice any production issues with the Enphase Enlighten app, and you aren’t successful troubleshooting, you will need to communicate with Project Solar so that we can help find you an installer or handyman to remove the faulty equipment if needed. 

    In general, the microinverter replacement process will vary on a case-by-case basis since the inverter damage may or may not be covered by Enphase's warranty depending on its source.

    Project Solar’s Role in the Microinverter Replacement Process

    Project Solar is here to facilitate and answer questions.

    Usually microinverter damage is not going to be caused by your installers, but if this is the case, and you received a full-service installation from Project Solar, the costs of acquiring and installing the new equipment will be covered by your installer and Project Solar. 

    Project Solar Workmanship Warranty

    To take advantage of the workmanship warranty, you must send written notice to your installer within 30 days of discovering a defect or damage. The notice must describe the location and details of the defect, so that the installer can properly investigate the claim.

    When you make your claim, you should be prepared to pay a refundable visit deposit of $80 to the installer. Upon receiving the deposit, the installer will schedule a time to inspect the warranty claim. 

    Following a proper evaluation and determination of coverage, the $80 site visit deposit will be refunded if the claim ends up being covered by the warranty. If it is not covered, the $80 will be applied to the cost of the installer’s site visit fee, but the installer will not perform any additional repairs or work without your consent.

    If your original installer has moved, gone out of business, etc., Project Solar is responsible for finding a new installer in your area to take care of the repair. 

    If you are a DIY installer and damage the equipment, you will be financially responsible for taking care of the replacement. 

    If the damage or defect is covered by the microinverters’ performance or product warranty, Project Solar’s facilitates the claims process with Enphase and keeps you involved and informed.

    Enphase Microinverter Replacement

    Inverter Issues: Full-Service Installation Customer

    1. Contact Project Solar and submit your claim.

    2. Project Solar will investigate and facilitate the warranty with Enphase and send a technician to remove and replace the faulty microinverter/s.

    3. The customer would just need to pay for the service call which would be no more than $100 for the truck roll and $70 an hour for the labor (within 30 miles of the installer’s region). Microinverter replacement is very straightforward and should not take long. 

    Inverter Issues: DIY Installation Customer

    1. Contact Project Solar and submit your claim. Enphase is also very responsive with customers if you have questions that you would like to directly take to them.

      Project Solar and Enphase Customer Support
      2. Project Solar will investigate your claim and facilitate the warranty with Enphase. As someone who has self-installed, you already have experience handling your system’s equipment, so you can remove the defective equipment and install the replacement without having to pay for a technician to do the job.

      • If for some reason you would prefer not to, Project Solar can send a technician to remove and replace the faulty microinverter/s. Project Solar has flat rates for the service call. It would be no more than $100 for the truck roll and $70 an hour for the labor (within 30 miles of the installer’s region). 

      Solar Panel Replacement

      Q-Cells Solar Panels

      Like microinverters, panels rarely have to be replaced. If there is an issue, however, our primary panel, the Q-Cells 340 W, has a 25-year product warranty and a 25-year performance warranty. 

      Full-service installation customers also have a 10-year workmanship warranty through the installer and Project Solar. 

      Q-Cells Warranty—What it Does and Does Not Cover

      Q-Cells’ performance warranty guarantees that panels will produce at least 85% of their original output by year 25. If a panel produces less efficiently than this, it officially has a performance defect and is warrantied to be replaced or repaired.

      The product warranty covers various panel defects and damages, but there are limitations.

      For example, damage caused by extreme external sources (e.g. acid rain or snow, blowing sand, saline air, air pollution, unusual oxidation levels, mold, nearby fire, explosion, smoke or charring, lightning, hail, frost, snow, storms, tidal waves, floods, extreme temperatures, earthquakes, typhoons, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, meteorites, ground motions, earth fissures or landslides, etc.) are not covered.

      As you can see, the warranty gets pretty specific, so be sure to review it before making a claim. Your panel damage will have to be classified according to the chart below. 

      (See more specific information on Q-Cells damage classification here).

      Description of Damage

      Warranty?

      Defects in material and/or workmanship

      Yes

      Damage due to handling, installation, or incorrect plant planning (e.g. electrical, mechanical)

      No

      Damage after installation or commissioning (e.g. broken glass, cracking, significant reduction of optical performance)

      Depends on the claim

      Deficient performance

      Yes

      Damage due to external forces

      No

      Damage due to transportation to the customer/site

      Depends on the claim

      No defects established

      No

       Now that you have an idea of what is and isn’t covered, the image below outlines the Q-Cells claim process: 

      Q-Cells Panel Warranty Claim Process

      This flow chart may look pretty complicated, but the process it outlines is quite similar to the Enphase microinverter claim process, and Project Solar representatives are here to guide you.

      Project Solar’s Role in the Panel Replacement Process

      Project Solar is here to facilitate and answer questions.

      Usually panel damage is not caused by installers, but if this is the case, and you received a full-service installation from Project Solar, the costs of acquiring and installing the new equipment will be covered by your installer and Project Solar. 

      To take advantage of the workmanship warranty, you must send written notice to your installer within 30 days of discovering a defect or damage. The notice must describe the location and details of the defect, so that the installer can properly investigate the claim. 

      When you make your claim, you should be prepared to pay a refundable visit deposit of $80 to the installer. Upon receiving the deposit, the installer will schedule a time to inspect the warranty claim. 

      Project Solar panel replacement

      Following a proper evaluation and determination of coverage, the $80 site visit deposit will be refunded if the claim ends up being covered by the warranty. If it is not covered, the $80 will be applied to the cost of the installer’s site visit fee, but the installer will not perform any additional repairs or work without your consent.

      If your original installer has moved, gone out of business, etc., Project Solar is responsible for finding a new installer in your area to take care of the repair. 

      If you are a DIY installer and damage the equipment, you will be financially responsible for taking care of the replacement. 

      If the damage or defect is covered by the panel’s performance or product warranty, Project Solar’s facilitates the claims process with Enphase and keeps you involved and informed. 

      Panel Issues: Full-Service Installation Customer

      1. Contact Project Solar and submit your claim.

      2. Project Solar will investigate and facilitate the warranty with Q-Cells and send a technician to remove and replace the faulty panel/s.

      3. Even if the panel’s defect or damage is covered by Q-Cells’ warranty, the warranty does not cover the labor costs of removing and replacing panels. Because of this, you will need to pay for the service call.

      • Project Solar has helped standardize the cost of the replacement service call. no more than $100 for the truck roll and $70 an hour for the labor (within 30 miles of the installer’s region). Solar panel replacement is very straightforward and should not take long.

        Panel Issues: DIY Installation Customer

        DIY Solar Installation

        1. When you discover an issue with your panels, contact Project Solar. Q-Cells customer service will need to be contacted as soon as possible and notified of any defects.

        2. We will need to to identify the source of the panel’s defects or damages. This will help us know whether the issue is covered by the workmanship or product/performance warranty and if the damage can be covered in the first place.

        3. Since you were able to originally install your system, you have the option of removing the faulty panel and installing the replacement panel provided by Q-Cells. This will save on costs because even if the damage or defect is covered by the Q-Cells warranty, they do not cover the labor costs associated with removing and reinstalling the product.

        4. If you need to send your panel/s to Q-Cells for analysis, the panel/s will need to be carefully transported to an intermediate store, stored in a dry environment in that intermediate store, and packed in Q-Cells transport medium.

        • If possible, you can just use its original packaging, but if needed, Project Solar can also provide you with suitable transport packaging from Q-Cells on request.

          An obvious (but important) note for DIY-ers: Do not throw damaged or defective modules or handle them in a way that will cause further damage because Q-Cells won’t accept any liability for damage that occurs when panels are being taken down or transported.

          Conclusion

          Because of photovoltaics’ financial and environmental benefits, our goal at Project Solar is to make solar accessible to as many people as possible. With this goal in mind, we naturally want to guarantee that the solar system performs to the best of its abilities.

          A less efficient system will slow down your return on investment, and you simply don’t need to suffer through equipment defects while Project Solar’s panels and microinverters have solid performance, product, and workmanship warranties.

          Project Solar solar system

          The vast majority of Enphase and Q-Cells products continue to function efficiently for years past their warranty period, so the likelihood that you’ll have to go through this process is low. 

          However, these issues happen, and with Project Solar’s efficient processes, the replacement process isn’t a big deal. We are prepared to help you get your system running again as soon as possible. 

          Here at Project Solar, we are ready to work with you and our manufacturers to guarantee that your system is everything that motivated you to go solar in the first place.