We’ve all been there. A dropped phone, a vehicle malfunction, or an appliance breakdown followed by the inevitable question, “Is this covered under warranty?”
In the rare instance where one or more modules in a client’s solar array are not working properly, the warranty may come into play. In the best-case scenario, the modules are covered under warranty and can be replaced by the manufacturer. However, if the modules have been handled in a way that invalidates the PV module warranty, you or your client may be on the hook for replacing them instead.
As someone who has worked in both installation and manufacturing, I’d like to offer the following tips for keeping your client’s warranty alive.
Avoid handling the modules in a way that will invalidate the warranty
A module needs to be in the same or similar condition upon return as it is when it is shipped out. Reasonable exceptions include: clamp and bracket marks, indication of attachments to micro inverters, and similar marks indicating installation processes in adherence with the installation manual.
Some tips for safe handling include:
- Use only approved bracket or clamp locations and components, as well as the approved attachment points listed in our installation manual for any module level added component.
- Use proper torque values on tools when tightening the module clamps.
- Leave space between adjacent rows and conform to a minimum ¼ inch spacing around all side of the module. (The mid and end clips will naturally adhere to this requirement.)
- Never step on modules or place your hand on the glass area to support your weight. This can generate micro cracks in the cell, impacting long term production.
Avoid modifying any portion of the PV module
Troubleshooting is part of the job, and it’s understandable to want to patch things together to overcome obstacles that may be presented by a difficult site. But it’s also important to remember to keep the integrity of the modules and their components intact—not doing so could cause the modules to fail or degrade early.
Here are some examples of modifications to avoid:
- Drilling holes in any portion of the module, frame, or other components.
- Modifying any leads coming from the module junction box.
- Self-tapping any component onto the frame of the module. For example, hanging a micro inverter from the side of the module frame.
- Using any chemicals or cleaners that do not conform to the current cleaning instructions listed on our website.
- Placing the rows too close together, forgetting to allow for thermal dynamic shifting or the expansion and contraction of aluminum.
Pick a reputable manufacturer with a good product record and a good warranty
Obviously the best situation is not needing a warranty at all. There is a lot of variation out there in the quality of PV modules, and it’s important to select a manufacturer that produces a quality product.
As the leading PV module manufacturer in Washington, Itek builds quality into the process. Each of our modules is inspected at every step along the production line, drastically reducing the chance of a flawed product leaving our floor, and our reliability record is exemplary.
In addition, Itek’s dedicated team is here to help you. Sometimes talking it through with us can help you problem-solve when you are stuck on an odd site situation. You can reach Itek Energy Technical Support line at (360) 223-8038 or (360) 647-9531 x116. We are here to support, empower, and educate our customers.