In this special edition of Contractors Corner, solar inverter manufacturer CPS talks about the status of inverter warranties and how they need to improve to better serve project owners. Below is a portion of the company’s Solar Spotlight podcast with Solar Power World, but be sure to listen to the full episode here or on your favorite podcast app to learn more about how CPS is changing the inverter warranty game.
What does a typical inverter warranty look like?
Most inverter company warranties are a couple pages that focus on basically repairing and replacing broken inverters. There’s a commitment, a period of time that could be five to ten years or more, but they’re simply focused on the responsibility of the inverter company to either repair or replace a broken inverter.
We do try to keep it easier and better than the norm of the industry by just keeping it really simple. It’s one page, easy to read, easy to understand, fully transferable, with no paperwork required to transfer a warranty from owner to owner.
Why isn’t this enough?
In the world of solar project performance, an inverter repair or replacement when something’s broken is definitely not adequate. For one, generally there’s no absolute commitment to speed, so it’s one thing for an inverter company to be warrantying its responsibility to repair or replace if something’s broken, but actually what owners need is very high-speed recovery when something’s broken.
Another weakness of typical warranties would be the compensation for an owner or an EPC or even an O&M firm for, say, an RMA event when an inverter is down. It is typical to have some compensation, maybe $150 or $250 for an RMA event, but that’s inadequate.
So how could inverter companies better align with what the industry needs?
One of the first steps and big commitments for inverter companies is to make service an offensive strength, not an expense to minimize — recognizing that the owners need service beyond the bare minimum of the warranties, and having the infrastructure and people in the right places in order to have high-speed, local support for the customers.
The other is for inverter firms to tightly connect with O&M firms. We found that by partnering with the industry O&M firm ecosystem, we can enable them as authorized service providers. We have a training program and a certification program for them to become familiar with our products, get the inside scoop, best practices and tribal knowledge about how to maximize performance of our products.
It’s important to offer services that address the gaps in the warranty. For example, broken inverters are sort of an easy case, but what about inverters that maybe aren’t broken, but they’re just not performing perfectly? The answer is having a service team that’s able to support those cases and really drive toward maximum performance, not just minimum performance that a warranty might cover.
That’s our approach: To basically help customers who are driving for higher performance insisting on maximum uptime. These kinds of supplemental services are a really good step for the industry to better align with what asset owners need in the future.
This podcast is sponsored by CPS America