Your Solar Panel & Inverter Warranty And The Law: What You Need To Know

Person signing a solar system warranty

Your Solar Panel Warranty and Solar Inverter Warranty have tough new minimum standards by law. Changes to the Australian Consumer Law came into effect on 1 January 2012. These are good changes which help protect you as a solar consumer from toothless warranties when buying a solar system.

One of my big bugbears last year was  a small number of solar companies hawking a warranty that looked great on the surface. But if you were to dig a little deeper into the small print (you always read the small print right?) the warranties were full of holes.

For example, I saw a few inverter and panel warranties that made it your responsibility to get the inverter removed from the wall or the panel removed from the roof and ship it off to the manufacturer. Ever seen how much a 10kg parcel to Beijing (or Berlin) costs?

A lot of warranties also had small print that excluded any loss of income from the warranty. If your system goes down and takes a month to repair, that could be a good few hundred dollars in lost income for some people.

Law abiding solar installers now have to provide you with an upfront, plain English document that includes the following (no hiding the salami in the small print!):

1) The document must explain exactly what they will do to honour the solar system, panel or inverter warranty.

In the case of a solar system I would expect them to state:

  • how they will determine if there is a problem
  • who will remove the faulty component
  • whether it will be repaired or replaced
  • who will re install it

2) The document must explain what you have to do in order to be entitled to the warranty.

Do you have to have a periodic “service” or do anything else for the warranty to remain valid?

3) The document must include this text word-for-word:

“our goods come with guarantees that cannot be excluded under the Australian Consumer Law. You are entitled to a replacement or refund for a major failure and for compensation for any other reasonably foreseeable loss or damage. You are also entitled to have the goods repaired or replaced if the goods fail to be of acceptable quality and the failure does not amount to a major failure”

Look for this text in the document that your installer hands you. If that text is not there then you may have a problem… Also ask for this document as part of the quote, to be sure that you are dealing with a company that understands their obligations under the new law.

The phrase “and for compensation for any other reasonably foreseeable loss or damage” means that they have to compensate you for loss of income if your system is out of action for any period of time whether that is from lost Feed In Tariff  income or lost electricity that would have been used up in your home.

4) The document must clearly state their name, business address, phone numbers and email address. (And please, never accept a quote that doesn’t have these details on it!)

5) The document must clearly state the time period that the warranty applies for.

Look for 10 years for the solar panel manufacturers warranty.

Look for at least 5 years for the inverter (10 years is better – as the inverter is the component that is the most likely to fail early).

Look for at least 2 years on the installation warranty (5 is better!).

Look for at least 25 years on the solar panels’ power output warranty.

6) The document must explain who will bear the expense of any warranty claim.

Who will pay to test, remove, ship and reinstall the equipment? I would recommend looking for a company that will bear this expense, instead of you!

How you can use this new law to your advantage.

So a company selling you a solar power system, now has a legal obligation to provide you with a plain English document that explains your solar system’s warranty. This document is a great way to help you decide between multiple quotes:

When getting quotes for solar, first make sure you ask for this document as part of the quote. If anyone refuses to provide it, cross them off the list, that’s your first filter! Your second filter is then to read each document and ask yourself: “Who has the best warranty?” Refer to point 5 of this blog post to help. Remember that the solar system will be on your roof for decades, so a good warranty is worth a lot!

What has your experience been of reading (or making a claim) on your solar panel, inverter or system warranty? Let us know in the comments below!

 

 

About Finn Peacock

I'm a Chartered Electrical Engineer, Solar and Energy Efficiency nut, dad, and founder of SolarQuotes.com.au. My last "real job" was working for the CSIRO in their renewable energy division.

Comments

  1. esko karjalainen says:

    Bloody excellent helpful guide, I am happy that people like you put the cowboys on they toes Thank you

  2. Juliusz Sciezyna says:

    I wander Finn how would you like to sign a contract that had this point (and few more too):

    ” 19. If within 60 days of the installation of the Goods, Xxxx Yyyy cannot generate the value of Energy Trading Certificates consistent with the point of sale discount listed in the application form Xxxx Yyyy may request the Client pay to Xxxx Yyyy on demand an amount equal to the reduction in the value of the Energy Trading Certificates.”
    That is cool point of an agreement and I believe Clients are signing these…

  3. esko karjalainen says:

    I will keep you posted as things progress from here on and hope I have made the right decision by signing for a 3kW system and with the right company, and compiling information from you has helped me in the right direction? thanks Finn reg. Esko

  4. Re: warranties – I have a 3rd party Chubb warranty. What have you heard about this warranty company? I need to know ASAP. regards Graham.

  5. Following renovations to our house I found a problem with our previously installed system. “Nu Energy”,the installers who I purchased it from told me the complete warranty was void as The inverter had been moved without notifying them in writing beforehand. I don’t see how that affects the warranty on the inverter or panels.

  6. About two years after installation, our solar inverter had to be moved about 500mm.due to some building renovation work. (Simply unplug, move unit and re-plug connectors) With no alteration to wiring. Later I was informed that I had voided my warranty because I didn’t get supplier’s permission prior to having the work done. I don’t understand how this affects the warranty on the panels or the inverter.

  7. Pint 3 above…I did a search of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 but couldn’t find this requirement…can you advise where it is from?

  8. Charlie Child says:

    Hi Finn, i have a faulty CMS2000 inverter, and the providing installer has gone bankrupt and i am out of the 2 year warranty. i want to purchase a replacement inverter. it should be a simple plug and replacement. If i install the new inverter myself will i void the new inverter warranty?

    • If you are a licensed electrician (or hire a licencsed electrician) and get a signed certificate of electrical safety, then that should be fine with the Warranty on the new inverter.

      Please don’t try to replace it yourself.

  9. Hi Finn,

    Have you heard of Sunmodule Protect SW250 by Australis Solar which have double glass panels, with a 10 year product warranty. If so, how do they compare to Infinite Energy REC with a 12year product warranty, which are about $900.00 more for 3kw. systems with same SMA inverter. Your views woud be appreciated.

    Doug

  10. I got 1.5 kw installed in 2010 now the inverter stop working I called the company that installed it, they told me it will cost 275$ 100$ for delivery and 175 for install could this b right .please help

    • Hi Ulus,

      If the inverter is under warranty it should be free. If it is out of warranty that seems like a fair price.

      Hope That Helps,

      Finn

  11. Andrew Glasser says:

    Our Solar provider (Diamond Cell) went into receivership, the display box died a while ago then we get a huge power bill and are not producing hardly any solar power, I contacted another APS provider and they said I need to pay an electrician to inspect them. We have a 30 year warranty. who do we contact, where do we stand, what can we do,,,? would rip them down and start again but we are still paying them off.

    • Under Australian law – if the company that sold you the system goes broke, and a component fails, then the company that supplied the component to the broke company has the legal obligation to honour warranties.

      When you say APS, are you talking about the APS micro inverters?

      Also – I’d consult a lawyer about whether you have an obligation to make payments on a system that is not working…

    • this only came to my attention now upon trying to ring them with a fault
      feel absolutely sick in the gut

  12. Concerned Solar Consumer says:

    Two questions on warranty…
    1. An installer in NSW & QLD states they provide warranty details at instillation and hide the fact that the system must be maintained (inspected) each year at a cost for their 12 year warranty on workmanship to be honoured. They also state that parts are based on the manufacturer warranty period but don’t provide information on things like enclosures, cables etc.
    Is this legal?

    2. I recently come across a situation in NSW where an CEC approved designer (but not Electrican) provided workmanship warrenty but because they are not an Electrican they can not honour that warranty. Even though they engaged a subcontractor that was an Electrican. Is this s common problem? The issue is going to go before the DFT so I am interested to see the outcome but if this is correct some consumers out there may have systems that are not covered under warranty.

  13. I put extra panels on my system exactly same as earlier ones true voided my warranty I thought manufacter supplied yhe warranty

    • The original solar installer may be able to wriggle out of their obligations if a second installer does the upgrade (but check with a lawyer as there are grey areas) but as long as the second installer was CEC accredited, then I’m fairly sure the solar panel manufacturer still must honour any panel warranties.

  14. I have a 1.5 kW system and the first inverter (Sharp) failed so the installation company replaced with a Clenergy invester, now the clenergy has failed and only noticed after power bill arrived solar credit went from $300.00 to $90.00 as the unit shows a Fault – Ground I Fault and no longer works. Am I entitled to receive missed income from faulty replacement inverter from the installation company?

  15. 1.5 kw system installed. First inverter failed after 3yrs and replaced under warranty free. 2nd inverter has just failed after another 3yrs. So 6yrs after initial inverter was installed. Am i entitled to another 5yr warranty on the new inverter? Nu energy (the mob i bought the original system off) say no. They say the new inverter does not have a 5yr warranty it only has to work until the original 5 years warranty has lapsed. Where do i stand?? Thankyou.

  16. We recently upgraded our PV system from one that was paid for by the Rudd Government & installed in a really sloppy manner. Shortly after installation of the original system, the installers told me I had voided my warranty on the complete system because I had the inverter moved without their written permission.
    Now that all of the original stuff is gone (mostly given away) we are now running 6.5kw of panels through a “Fronius Primo” inverter. I can now monitor the system output via the solar web interface. Best of all, the system was installed by local reliable contractors.

  17. My inverter went faulty and had one year warranty left on it. The supplier charged me $350 to supply and refit a new inverter. Is this fair? Should I have had to pay anything at all?

    • Ronald Brakels says:

      Hello Mel, that is a difficult question for me to answer with my limited knowledge of the law. My understanding is the specific terms and conditions of the written warranty do not have to cover the cost of installing an item. So according to the terms of the written warranty they may not cover installation costs.

      However, you may be covered under Australian consumer law which applies no matter what the written warranty may say. According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission:

      “A consumer can claim compensation for consequential loss from a supplier or manufacturer who failed to meet one or more consumer guarantees.”

      So under Australian consumer law I presume you could attempt to claim compensation for the loss of the $350 you were charged.

      But I am not a lawyer and you will need information from someone more knowledgeable than I. Consumer affairs organizations in your state will hopefully be able to help you.

  18. Mark Anderson says:

    Having a problem getting my new inverter fitted were the old one was
    New inverter will have to be move about a metre or so on the other wall so the installation company are telling me that there is a additional fee of $700 due to new bylaws introduced recently
    As5003 law (2014)

    Is this true or rubbish

  19. Glen phillips says:

    I have a 5kw system sold & installed by true value solar. The inverter has a fault . ( growatt inverter)
    True value solar wish to replace the inverter with a refurbished inverter with no guarantee on parts or labour . ( warranty on the system is almost up.)
    Is this legal ?
    I wanted their policy on on replacement & fitting guarantee in writing. All I’ve had is a phone call on Saturday afternoon to say they would install the refurbished inventor on Tuesday 21/2/17 .Fault was reported 8/12/16. Verbal agreements with this company are worthless .

    • Ronald Brakels says:

      That is often a condition of written warranties – a faulty inverter can be replaced with a refurbished one with no change in the original warranty period. As long as the refurbished inverter works, this is generally accepted under Australian consumer law as being a suitable remedy for a defective product.

      Sorry I haven’t been able to give you any good news.

  20. John Paterson says:

    I have a solar system fitted by Nicholls Group ,Brisbane in 7.2012.

    MY inverter has failed,26..3.2017,and Nicholls tells me I have to email the manufacturer Samilpower, to claim under my 10 year warranty.

    Isn;t the installer liable to replace this faulty inverter under their guarantee?
    John

    • You are correct – the contract is between you and the company that sold you the system. Under Australian Consumer Law the entity that sold you the system has to take responsibility for all warranties. They cannot palm you off to the manufacturer.

      If you need any help email me: [email protected]

      • John Paterson says:

        Thank you for your prompt response,pity these companies don’t do the same.
        Nicholls Group,have told me this morning,that the original Nicholls Group went into liguidation at some point in time,and they just took over the telephone numbers,faxes,factories,but they can help me with the warranty on my inverter,by giving me the manaufacturer’s contact point,and I must chase it up.
        They are still trading from the same place,with the same telephone numbers,so it sounds a bit underhand from my way of thinking.
        Get the money,go into liquidation,and suddenly a new company,identical with the old one pops up.
        Time it was stopped.
        Anyway,I’ve no choice but to take what info I can get from them,and see if I can get my inverter replaced by Samilpower,
        Thanks for your info Finn,but it doesn’t seem to apply i these circumstances.
        John

  21. Doug Jones says:

    After just over 3.5 years of impeccable service my inverter has today failed a relay self test. It may even be a simple fix.

    As a first step I have emailed the supplier asking who to ask first about having it checked out. It’s sunday, so that may be days away yet.

    I figure after reading this, the installer is my first port of call to have it checked over. Planing to attend to this first business day.

    After noting a 5 year warranty, I find on the very last page of the inverter owners manual, warranty details must be registered within 60 days of installation.

    Nothing was mentioned of this at installation, and initial reading of the manual, so I had not registered it, however I still today did register the warranty on the website. It may be rejected of course.

    Assuming my registration is rejected, does some Consumer Protection apply in any case, and for how long?

    Can the company enforce a 60 day requirement to register a warrany, as in fact some warranties are implied without having to register.

    • HI Doug,

      Under Australian Consumer Law they have to honour the warranty – whether you registered the product or not.

      So don’t worry about not registering it.

      Best Regards,

      Finn

      • Doug Jones says:

        Comforting news to be honest, already received email from the supplier, no mention (so far) about warranty not being “in place”, so I now shall be contacting the installer as the first step. Thanks so much.

  22. My NuEnergy Inverter seems to have failed (a warning light and obscure message) a couple of months ago, so I’ve turned off the switch for the solar power system in the main electrical box.

    NuEnergy seems to have gone broke (the ‘customer service’ number has been disconnected, and although I got an initial response to my email enquiry the mobile number provided is now also not being answered), and the components (I think) were all manufacturer overseas – so it seems that both the provider/installer and manufacturer of my system are both inaccessible for repair of my system under warranty.

    Should I just look online for a qualified solar power system electrician to quote to repair it, and forget about the warranty?

    • Ronald Brakels says:

      I called Nu Energy and didn’t get a reply, only an answering machine, so if they are still around they may be difficult to get hold of. I see many people have complained they are unreachable.

      If the manufacturer of the inverter doesn’t have an office in Australia then they won’t honor the warranty, but it is worth checking online to see if the maker of the inverter has a presence in Australia. If they do you should be able to get a remedy from them.

      If the manufacturer doesn’t exist in Australia you could put effort into finding what’s left of Nu Energy, if anything (they still have a website up), and sending them a letter demanding they honor the warranty and take them to a consumer tribunal or to small claims court if they don’t.

      Whether or not that is worth the effort to you, only you can decide.

  23. What happens if the solar installer has gone out of business? Where do we stand in terms of warranty?

    • Ronald Brakels says:

      Hello Selena, Ronald here.

      If your solar installer has gone out of business then you will need to approach the manufacturer of your solar panels or inverter if you have a problem with them.

      If they were made by a company that doesn’t have an office in Australia, then their importer will be responsible for their warranties.

  24. Hi there,
    My inverter failed after almost six years. The inverter is an ENA from New Zealand and they did have great write ups etc. My warranty is before 2012 so it may not have the extras you mention about consumer law.
    Warranty was for 5 years.
    So far my electrician has been here twice to try and get it going with no success as yet.
    Plenty of input voltage and inverter recognizes the input AC power. No high resistance in the inverter panel chains. It get warm but not hot. I tried ENA in NZ for a warranty and have received forms back. I will await the sparkies decision on what to do next.
    Congrats on the great info site.
    Recommendations on a new 2kW inverter would be appreciated.

    • Ronald Brakels says:

      Hi Walter.

      Our Solar 101 guide displays where inverters sit from budget models premium ones:

      https://www.solarquotes.com.au/solar101.html

      If you want a high quality inverter you will want one of the more expensive ones, or if you have more tolerance for risk or simply less money to spend, you can get one of the cheaper ones. (Note that Enphase makes microinverters and SolarEdge inverters use DC optimisers, so there will be the extra expense of having them installed under your panels if you choose them.)

      This might also be a good time to consider if you want to expand your rooftop solar.

  25. Mel Murphy says:

    Hi there

    My inverter failed after 18 months with Zeversolar. It has taken nearly 2 months and countless phone calls to get the replacement here. Is there a time limit on replacements? Also, the inverter that has just arrived looks in a terrible state – scratched and bumped with faded writing on the front. It is obviously one that has been returned from someone else and then repaired. What’s to stop that one breaking down again and another 2 months wait for a replacement? I just got my electricity bill after 2 months of hot weather and no solar power and it’s big!

    • Ronald Brakels says:

      While they are unlikely to offer this, it is reasonable for any time you spend without a functioning inverter to be added to the length of your warranty. You are protected by Australian consumer law so if you have a 5 year warranty and your replacement inverter breaks down after 5 years and one month you can inform them they should still replace it. If they don’t, you can take them to a consumer tribunal or small claims court.

      Fortunately, you are protected by Australian consumer guarantees no matter what the written warranty says or if the written warranty has expired. And one thing you can do is claim for consequential losses. So if you wanted to, you could claim for the value of the lost electricity production during the almost two months you were waiting for a replacement inverter. Of course, only you can decide if it is worth the effort of attempting to get them to compensate you. If you decide to try I suggest contacting a consumer affairs organization in your state.

  26. Great help on this page well done.
    Im in Perth have 10kw Zeversolar TLC10000 on our sandblasting workshop and its done an output relay fuse keeps clicking and trying to come on but throws fault code and red light.
    Been waiting 10 weeks for fix and we finally picked up replacement unit from freight company on friday and its super faded clearly been used outdoor, dented case and tape residue from old safety plaques the yellow ones left on have faded white and the control pad buttons are split. Our current unit is fitted pride of place on our main wall as a feature and to promote our companies green energy use as blasting is energy intensive which effects price and we get a turd to hang on the wall that came out of a busted box with faulty stickers all over it i don’t want them to waste their or my time fitting the “turd” to the wall when it doesn’t inspire confidence its actually going to work as hard as the shop requires.
    Firstly I’m wondering if we get any financial refund for the $2000+ its cost me so far still waiting for next bill cringe and it will probably be another 8-10weeks before its swapped and fitted?
    Second query is about rebates. I heard you only get rebates for unto 5kw systems is this true? If my power units to the grid are metered why does the power company get my 10kw power free when we are closed using only 2kw?
    Cheers

    • Ronald Brakels says:

      Hi Mark R

      Under Australian consumer law you can claim for consequential losses:

      https://www.accc.gov.au/business/treating-customers-fairly/consumers-rights-obligations#compensation-for-damages-amp-loss

      If they don’t want to compensate you then you can try taking them to a consumer tribunal or small claims court. But a non-functioning 10 kilowatt inverter should have cost you less than $2,000 over 10 weeks.

      Consumer guarantees state that goods must be:

      “…of acceptable quality – the goods must be safe, lasting, have no faults, look acceptable and do all the things someone would normally expect them to do.”

      So you could insist upon an inverter that looks acceptable.

      By rebates I assume you mean a feed-in tariff that is received for solar electricity that is sent into the grid. In Western Australia feed-in tariffs can normally only be received by systems that have inverters of 5 kilowatts or less, so if your system is producing 12 kilowatts of electricity and you are using 2 then the grid is getting 10 kilowatts for free. In my opinion this is basically theft.

  27. I entered into a solar lease agreement last year and have had nothing but trouble with the service, installation and now it appears one of the inverters are faulty. The company breached the installation period of the contract and part of the finance agreement. Can I get out of this agreement under consumer law as the goods are faulty and they have breached the original contracts?

    • Ronald Brakels says:

      Hello Penny

      While I am definitely not a lawyer, my understanding is if the company you are leasing from doesn’t uphold their end of the deal then you are entitled to a remedy which can include cancellation of the contract. Note they may want to remove the system from your premises if the contract is ended. I suggest contacting a consumer affairs organization in your state as they should be able to help you.

  28. Michael Gray says:

    I had a aps micro inverter replaced under warranty today, installer said I need to pay for the removal and installation of new inverter. Is this correct ACL I believe I don’t need to pay.

    • Ronald Brakels says:

      Hello Michael

      While the APS microinverter warranty specifically says it does not cover the cost of installing a replacement microinverter you are protected by consumer guarantees that go beyond the content of written warranties. You can claim compensation for losses such as the cost of installation. Here is the ACCC page on it:

      https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/consumer-rights-guarantees/compensation-for-damages-loss

      The ACCC says:

      “Compensation should put you in the position you would have been in if the products or services had done what they are supposed to under consumer guarantees.”

      If the installer does not want to cover the cost of installation you can take them to a consumer tribunal or small claims court. A consumer affairs organization in you state should be able to help you.

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