If you're an early adopter of solar, you may already be in the market for a new inverter because, if we're being honest, 10 or 12 years isn't considered a bad life for an appliance, especially power-handling electronics that might live outside in the baking sun.
If your solar installer presents you with a proforma like this example below, it's a good indication that they know what they're doing; they're setting your expectations with an abundance of caution while simultaneously covering their arse and preventing reputational damage.
I, Joe H Bloggs_______ of 45 Pleasant Ave, Mt Innocuous, WA 6153___ have been informed that;
- My solar panels' age, condition and future degradation may lead to earth faults on the new inverter, which may not be covered under the inverter manufacturer's warranty. Therefore, future replacement or repair will incur total costs.
- Current generation inverter technology has increased ground fault detection sensitivity and will be affected by earth faults from the existing solar panels.
- If your modules were installed before 2013, your solar installation might not be fire rated.
- Small Technology Certificates (STCs) are only applicable if the inverter and panels are replaced simultaneously. This means a decision to replace the entire system later will require a new inverter to gain STCs (point of sale discount) or paying for new panels without STCs.
If you have a good quality solar system with brand-name panels that were nicely installed, it makes perfectly good sense to replace/update the inverter when it fails. There's a lot of time, energy, and materials that needn't go in the bin and a lot of fuss, rigmarole and even potential building damage (like cracked roof tiles) that can be avoided.
I've done plenty of them, they've gone off without any problems, and they offer new generation smarts in terms of monitoring and record keeping.
Equally though, standards have moved on. Rooftop isolators are a liability that is best removed, and the same can be said for cheap crap solar modules. If they have a random three-letter acronym as a brand, or a German-sounding brand name that was made in China, sadly, there's a good chance they'll give trouble.
Good solar installers are more comfortable selling whole new systems, with complete new warranties and often much larger capacity, because used solar can become a can of worms, especially if there is a need to remove seized mounting hardware, disturb panels with unseen defects, or open connections that rely on good weather sealing to be effective.
Cracked backsheets like this aren't always visible from the front.
Getting rid of a rooftop isolator is always a good thing.
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