You might have heard about the long life of solar panels, but did you know solar inverters have a comparatively shorter life? Let’s discuss how long do solar inverters last and what can be done to make them last longer.
Generally, solar inverters last for 10-20 years. Their lifespan depends on several factors, especially the configuration they are used in, frequency of usage, environment, and maintenance. So, there are certain factors that the consumer can take care of to prolong the life of solar inverters.
Types of Solar Inverter Configurations And Their Lifespan
The configuration of solar inverters’ connection also impacts the life of a solar panel. There are two major configurations used:
A string inverter is the most commonly used configuration in domestic applications. When a string of multiple solar panels is connected to a single inverter, it makes a string configuration. Since a single solar inverter processes the power of multiple solar panels, it is usually high-rated. Moreover, it functions until one of the solar panels generates power. This is the reason why string inverters work for up to 10 years.
Microinverter configuration is more common in commercial applications. When in a system, all solar panels are connected with an individual solar inverter, it makes a microinverter configuration. In this case, a single solar inverter does not have to process the overall power. Moreover, it functions according to the optimal direction of its corresponding panel so it functions less often than string inverters. This helps microinverters maintain a longer lifespan of 15-25 years.
What Factors Affect the Life of Solar Inverters?
As mentioned earlier, various factors affect the life of solar inverters. Some of these factors are internal, and some are external.
Solar inverters contain electronic circuits that are made of electronic components. These components are sensitive to high temperatures; the more they heat up, the more they lose efficiency and life. If exposed to higher temperatures frequently or for a long, these components can also burn and damage permanently. One such component is the capacitor used in solar inverters.
Since solar inverters process high power, the circuits naturally heat up. Even though most solar inverters are equipped with cooling fans, if, for any reason, the circuit does not cool down, it affects the life of the inverter.
The internal temperature of solar inverters also rises if the external temperature exceeds usual. If the inverter is installed in a congested or warm place, it may not be able to regulate its temperature. Similarly, frequent exposure to dirt can block its ventilation system and affect its internal cooling mechanism.
Lastly, if the environment is too humid or the inverter is exposed to rain, it may burn immediately (if it is not weatherproof).
Input Voltage And Current
Even though modern solar inverters have certain over-voltage and over-current protection mechanisms, sometimes, they can still affect inverters. If the voltages or currents are not stable, the inverter frequently encounters spikes or is exposed to unspecified ranges; the inverter may not protect itself for long and end up burning.
Maintenance And Cleaning
Even if a solar inverter works well, it still needs maintenance and cleaning. Naturally, all solar inverters accumulate dust which needs to be cleaned off. Similarly, the capacitors must be checked and replaced (if needed). The connectors also need to be cleaned sometimes. If a solar inverter functions for long periods without any maintenance or cleaning, it only lasts for a short time.
How Can We Make Solar Inverters Last Longer?
So far, we have discussed all the factors that impact the lifespan of solar inverters. So, we have identified all the potential reasons, and now we need to take precautions.
The specifications of a solar inverter must match the output of solar panels and other equipment. If you use the wrong-sized equipment, it may end up causing the solar inverter to function more than usual and expire before time.
Solar inverters come in a variety of designs and specifications. Each brand has different quality standards, and some brands pay special attention to optimizing the inverter’s design for long life. Always choose a reputed brand to ensure your inverter has quality standards and will last longer. Considering the same concerns.
Installing an inverter in a suitable place can help prolong its life. Inverters come in different specifications; some are weather-proof and can bear harsh outdoor environments. Whereas most inverters are sensitive to the environment and often end up expiring sooner because of the environment. Always install the inverter in a suitable location per the manufacturer’s instructions. If you have to install the inverter outdoors, make sure it is weatherproof.
Modern solar inverters are equipped with certain sensors and telemetry systems that auto-detect anomalies and ensure the inverter is not exposed to any usual voltage, current, or temperature. Sometimes, the inverter somehow still ends up malfunctioning and needs maintenance. Sometimes, the problem is not severe, and the inverter still works. Still, it shouldn’t be used and must be maintained before any further use.
Fortunately, most modern inverters have an automatic problem detection system that detects the problem and shows the error’s code on the LCD. The inverter should be maintained according to the problem to ensure it works fine. Always acquire the services of certified professionals for maintenance.
Most solar invert companies offer a warranty on inverters. Check for the warranty period before you buy so that you can always claim a warranty in case your inverter stops working before the warranty ends. But still, solar inverters do not work as long as solar panels; they have a shorter lifespan. If they are not given proper care, they expire sooner.
A good way to prolong the life of a solar inverter is to consult a certified professional before choosing an inverter and acquiring his services to install the inverter. Once installed, get the inverter checked at least once in a while and timely maintain the inverter.