How much does it cost to replace a solar panel?

How much does it cost to replace a solar panel?

Chances are you are here because your solar system isn’t working.

And we get it, you’re not just looking for a price but a clear explanation of your options based on what has happened.

We’ve got some good news and some bad news, and a few surprises. So let’s get into it.

First the good news:

If the solar system isn’t too old, it can be a simple matter of ordering a replacement and swapping out the broken panel. This, of course, will be done under warranty as long as the warranty is still valid, and on most older panels the product warranty is 10 years.

So simply go back to your original installer and they should be able to help you make a warranty claim.

Next up, let’s have a look at a common problem that can make all of this more complicated than what most people expect.

With a string inverter, we need all of the panels to be the same for the inverter to work properly.

Over the years, panels have evolved from 200W, to 250W, to 300W, and now all the way up to 410W.

The chance of finding an old panel such as a 250W panel from 5 years ago is basically zero. There just aren’t any panels left in Australia, and it’s next to impossible to source them from overseas.

The other issue is that panels these days are much larger, and so even if we technically could put a newer panel on your system, it would stick out like a sore thumb if it was mounted alongside older panels.

The main question we need to ask now is how is the panel damaged? If it is from hail, a tree branch, or an errant golf ball, it will probably be covered by insurance. In this case, what we will normally do is give you a quote to replace the entire system.

The reason for this is that if the system is more than a few years old, it may not be up to current regulations, which means that we need to redo the cabling. And so if we need to replace the panels and the cables, the only thing left is the inverter.

“I can’t get any help from my installer”

If a panel stops working, for example, but the system is relatively new, it will be best to go back to your original installer. Hopefully, you chose a good one that has an active and local support team willing to help.

It’s at this point that many people realise that the cheapest quote for the same system was cheaper for a reason. The company simply isn’t set up to offer proper warranty support, or even worse, you find out the company has changed names to get out of the mounting support claims. The solar industry is plagued by it, but unfortunately, these companies keep getting away with it because people are out looking for a bargain.

If you aren’t able to get help from your original installer, there are a small handful of larger installers such as Solaray that have the resources to help, however, it’s not always as simple as us ordering a panel and sending out someone to install it.

Sometimes it is, for example, if you have newer panels from one of the bigger manufacturers it will be possible to source a panel from a wholesaler or importer and then come and help you out. This is the best cases scenario, but unfortunately, it doesn’t always go like this.

What’s more common is that the system either uses super-cheap panels or the system is a lot older. In both of these cases, our only option is actually to rip the whole system off and start again. Or we can leave it up on the roof and install a new system alongside it, but it isn’t so nice to have panels up on the roof that don’t work.

The reason older systems typically don’t get fixed is threefold:

Firstly, if a new installer works on an old system they will often have to take over responsibility for it. If the system uses no-name panels and a cheap inverter from Asia, there is a good chance it will break again, and no installer is going to want to get involved in multiple service calls for a system that isn’t theirs.

Next, older systems aren’t up to current Australian regulations, and so if we replace a panel we will need to redo most of the system down to the inverter. It’s just too expensive to do that when you could just install a new system instead.

Finally, you can actually get the Federal Government Incentive again but only if you replace the inverter. So if the panels are getting replaced, you may as well do the inverter as well and basically buy a whole new system. It can end up being about the same price, plus you get the new technology from Enphase so you don’t need to go through all of this again.

We wanted to lay all of this out to make it clear just how much of an expense it is to deal with cheap systems breaking. And it’s shocking how often we get phone calls from people with systems that are only a few years old and already the installer has gone belly up or changed their name.

So our warning at the end here is to do it properly. Choose good quality panels, go with Microinverters so each panel is independent of the others (and so easily replaceable), and choose a good installer, one that has a reputation for helping out their customers when things go wrong, whether it’s a warranty claim or a service call.

There aren’t actually that many installers that do this, which is why the entire industry sometimes gets a bad name when people end up on the TV with horror stories from Solar Cowboys.

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