Keeping Chorlton Green: Essential Guide to Solar Inverter Replacement

Keeping Chorlton Green: Essential Guide to Solar Inverter Replacement

Chorlton-cum-hardy, a popular, thriving district of regeneration within Manchester, hasn’t been immune to the increase of solar installations in the region as a whole. For Manchester, the number of solar installations peaked just under a decade ago, with residents taking advantage of the lucrative Feed-in-Tariffs available to homeowners at the time. Chorlton is often known for its more liberal demographic and Atlantic Renewables has assisted many local residents to install energy-saving measures such as solar panels.

So whether you are a true Chorltonian or a Chorlton-ite hipster and live in the area the chances are quite high that you or someone that you know in the area has had Solar Panels installed in the last 15 years.

As great as Solar Panels are, an inverter’s typical lifespan is 8-15 years, resulting in an increase in inverter faults and errors for those Chorltonian/Chorlton-ite homeowners in Chorlton that have older Solar Panel Systems. Unfortunately many of the manufacturers who pioneered early solar technology are no longer in business, leaving residents with two options; fix it or replace it. But which option should they choose?

What is an inverter?

A solar panel inverter is a key component in a solar power system, essentially acting as a translator. Solar panels produce direct current (DC) electricity, which isn't the type of electricity that powers our homes and appliances. The inverter steps in and converts that DC electricity into alternating current (AC), the kind of electricity we can use for our appliances. This AC output is what gets fed into the electrical grid or used directly in your home.

Inverters work alongside other ancillary equipment such as generation metres, battery storage, immersion controllers and EV Chargers.

What types of inverters for domestic properties are there?

Solar inverters for homeowners are one of two types.

String or central inverters are the most common choice. They work most efficiently when all of the solar panels are operating under the same conditions (i.e. no shading or different orientations). However some string inverters are designed for systems that require more than one string of solar panels.

Micro inverters are ordinarily installed for panels that have different characteristics i.e. orientation on the roof, or shading. By installing micro inverters, the overall performance of the system is not affected by an individual panel or panels.

Do I need to start looking at an inverter replacement?

As time passes, solar inverters can begin to underperform due to degradation of its internal components, much like any mechanical equipment. Common components to experience degradation are the capacitors and fans, which can impact the functionality of the inverter.

Environmental factors like extreme heat, humidity, and dust can also accelerate these issues with your inverter.

Sourcing spare parts for older inverters can be difficult. These installation costs can potentially be more than a standard swap to a newer, more modern inverter model. The models are most likely out of production or discontinued, or the manufacturers are no longer trading.

Some examples of these manufacturers include;

  • ABB (acquired by FIMER in 2019)

  • Aurora Power-One PVI (acquired by ABB – see above!)

  • Samil Power Ltd (dissolved in 2018)

  • Eversolar (acquired by SMA Solar Technology in 2011)

Further inverter manufacturers to name a few include;

  • SMA Sunny Boy (German Manufacturer)

  • Schucho (Made by SMA as above)

  • Growatt

  • Sun Power

  • Mastervolt

  • Fox

  • SungSunsynk

  • SolaX Power

  • Lux Power

  • Trannergy

From a cost-benefit perspective, replacing your inverter may be the best solution. According to a report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), between 2010 and 2019, the cost of solar PV dropped globally by 82%. The cost of sourcing spare parts and the additional labour costs may add up to more than the cost and installation of a new solar inverter.

Another benefit of an inverter replacement is the advance in the technology, with inverters now including features such as online monitoring, and the ability to combine with power optimisers, allowing each panel’s power to be regulated. This allows panels, even in shaded areas, to achieve maximum power.

One of the most common inverters in the UK to fail in recent years has been the ABB/Aurora Power-One/ Fimer Inverter. When this inverter has failed you will typically see an error code message E031. This is caused by a faulty relay inside the inverter and you can often hear it clicking, which is the relay trying to make contact but is unable to do so. If you have an ABB or Aurora Power One inverter that shows this error code, it is unfortunately likely that you will need to swap the inverter. This will get your Solar System back up and generating again.

How long does a typical inverter replacement take to swap?

Depending on size, location of the inverter in the property, this can typically take 1-3 hours.

Which Replacement Inverter Should I Choose?

There is an array of different solar inverter manufacturers today, providing equipment to the UK solar customer. Some of these include;

  • GivEnergy

  • SolarEdge

  • Enphase

  • Solis

  • Fronius

Which inverter you choose is dependent on your current solar PV system, and your electrical consumption habits. Atlantic Renewables will advise you to ensure the most appropriate inverter is supplied to suit your system specifications and budget.

Atlantic Renewables has supplied solar systems and inverter maintenance and inverter replacement services in the Chorlton area and beyond since 2011. We can advise which inverter would be the most beneficial for you based on your existing array, your budget, and your current electrical consumption habits, giving you peace of mind that you have made the right choice.

We supply and install a range of different manufacturers, models and capacities, ensuring you get the perfect inverter replacement, and your solar system is back up and running at maximum efficiency.

Contact us today to discuss your existing solar PV system, and how we can assist you with any inverter issues or an Inverter Swap.

Atlantic Renewables

Atlantic Renewables are a solar PV design and installation company, providing affordable solutions in Manchester, Cheshire and throughout the North West.