Now, why is this a key aspect while evaluating panels or inverters of an existing solar power plant?

Let’s look at inverters to illustrate the significance of local service support.

Although designed with a life expectancy in excess of 20 years, inverters, like all other industrial products with electronic components, are susceptible to failure over time. The main reason for failure is aging of electronic components, but it is also greatly affected by the operational conditions. A demanding environment, such as high ambient temperature, humidity, dirt, dust and cyclic heavy loads, can shorten component lifetime as well as maintenance and component replacement intervals.

And what could happen during the downtime of inverters?

You could be compromising the entire generation of your power plant, even if the other components, starting with the panels to transformers are in good working conditions. Inverters are the control systems in a power plant that not only monitors the generation from it but also gives command signals for the panels to start and stop producing power for a day. An inverter downtime, can thus signify, the entire generation that could have been otherwise possible, to go wasted. And this could lead to massive financial losses, depending on the failure period.

So how would the local presence of the manufacturer’s technical support team score well for your power plant?

Continuing in the same context as above (of the inverter facing the need for repair), the installers are usually not capable of correcting. Moreover, they would want the manufacturer themselves to send their technical team, in order to not void the warranty cover.

So, unless the manufacturer has a local presence and is capable of sending the technical team to the site, the site remains non-operational for a prolonged period of time. And what is worse, most developers prefer international manufacturers and this would mean shipping the damaged item to the company and awaiting the repaired or replaced item, which could even take up to months.

What could be the additional benefits of having a local service support team?

 The benefits of having a local tech. support team often is reflected in the life of a system. Manufacturers with a local presence can offer you a preventive maintenance scheme and also options for reconditioning a particular unit to extend its life. Now, what are these things?

  • Preventive maintenance

Technical support, if available locally, can offer you with preventive maintenance. This consists of annual inspections and component replacements according to the product-specific maintenance schedule. Specifications of component suppliers are carefully observed, while the environmental and operational conditions of the units are also considered. Preventive maintenance is carried out during planned production shutdowns and thus would not hamper generation

  • Reconditioning

While, within preventive maintenance, component replacements can be carried out quickly on-site, some manufacturers offer reconditioning of damaged units to their original factory condition. This should be considered in the case of major damage or in demanding environmental conditions when major components, such as electrolytic capacitors, need replacing according to the maintenance schedule. The Reconditioning service is carried out at an authorized service workshop within a clean environment and with suitable testing facilities. The service includes a full inspection, thorough cleaning and the analysis of individual components, as well as part replacements according to a product-specific maintenance schedule. The reconditioned inverter is then fully tested. The presence of a service workshop which can be accessed within a day can thus prove highly advantageous in case the unit has to be fully restored to its original condition.

You might want to check out these questions on Solar Power Plant Evaluation- Components:

  • How well have the components been chosen?- Here
  • What have been the degradation rates in panels?- Here
  • How good are the inverters?- Here
  • What types of monitoring solutions are employed by the power plant?- Here
  • What kind of trackers is employed?How do you ensure its quality?- Here
  • Are the components suppliers in business?- Here
  • What are the warranty clauses attached to key components?-Here
  • Can  you retrofit additional components to an existing power plant to increase generation? – Here