Enphase Inverter defective

Looks like after 1 year I finally lost an inverter ( out of 28 ). Error message: AC Frequency Out Of Range

Contacted enphase and they are having problems doing any warranty work. Seems like unless you pay for internet access (cell phones don't count), they won't do warranty work. I can't plug this thing into work due to regulations (work at a bank). So basically you can't really count on enphase for warranty.

This problem may not affect many people but it sure seems to stink from a support perspective. I even offered to ship my unit back to enphase let them do their test and have it shipped back to me. They are balking at that now but atleast the customer support person offered to look into this for me.

I'll let you guys know how it goes. For now I'll purchase a replacement from ebay for $145. I'm gonna start looking into alternative micro inverters. Enphase needs more competition!


andy
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Comments

  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Enphase Inverter defective

    andy,
    thanks for that heads up. i think most of us knew there was something a bit fishy with their warranty and you may have exposed their angle.
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,136 ✭✭✭✭
     
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    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
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  • Blackcherry04Blackcherry04 Solar Expert Posts: 2,490 ✭✭✭
    Re: Enphase Inverter defective

    Well, they give you Enlighten Free, it's the access that they use to determine if the unit is defective. I guess if you don't have internet, your out. Do you have a envoy ??
  • inetdoginetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,123 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Enphase Inverter defective
    andyman wrote: »
    Seems like unless you pay for internet access (cell phones don't count), they won't do warranty work. I can't plug this thing into work due to regulations (work at a bank). So basically you can't really count on enphase for warranty.

    Cell phones may not count, but if you use a 3G or better cell phone to provide tethered or hotspot internet access and run that from a laptop to a hub, they will not be able to tell it from just a lousy wired Internet connection.
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • jaggedbenjaggedben Solar Expert Posts: 230 ✭✭
    Re: Enphase Inverter defective
    andyman wrote: »
    Seems like unless you pay for internet access (cell phones don't count), they won't do warranty work.

    That's a pretty weird way of putting it. All you have to do is get internet to the Envoy, and only for a period of time. You certainly don't have to pay for it, if, say, you have a friend with a 3G mobile internet device.

    By the way, what AC voltage is the inverter reporting?
  • jaggedbenjaggedben Solar Expert Posts: 230 ✭✭
    Re: Enphase Inverter defective
    inetdog wrote: »
    Cell phones may not count, but if you use a 3G or better cell phone to provide tethered or hotspot internet access and run that from a laptop to a hub, they will not be able to tell it from just a lousy wired Internet connection.

    hah, typing at the same time. Exactly what I meant to suggest. And it doesn't matter if they can tell, they don't care. They just require a connection that is adequate for uploading the data.
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,235 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Enphase Inverter defective
    inetdog wrote: »
    Cell phones may not count, but if you use a 3G or better cell phone to provide tethered or hotspot internet access and run that from a laptop to a hub, they will not be able to tell it from just a lousy wired Internet connection.

    That's why we got an android phone, not for use as a phone, but for a hotspotfor the computers, just like wireless!
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • andymanandyman Solar Expert Posts: 32
    Re: Enphase Inverter defective

    The unit is registered. I had internet when it was installed. They have me in there system, every piece of equipment is registered, and they have all my information. I just cancled the internet part when I canceled the land line.

    But why pay for internet on your cell phone and at home? Oh and I don't have teethering on my cell phone. ATT is onto people who do and for whatever reason they can detect when you do that. I don't want to loose my unlimited plan so I ain't gonna risk it just because enphase depends on internet access for a SOLAR system!

    To enphases credit tho I just got off the phone with them and they are ok with screen shots. I've taken a bunch of screen shots and will send it to them when I get to work.

    All this is warranty crap just stinks to high heavens. I went and bought an extra inverter off ebay just in case they stop selling them. Can't depend on that warranty now. By the way the inverter doesn't actually report voltage.. Just says its out of spec. I went up to the roof and measured the lines on the inverter itself. I get 120V and 119V so its not the grid. Looks like a bad inverter. I'll keep you guys up to date on the warranty status. Either way I'll be up and online as soon as my spare comes in.
  • andymanandyman Solar Expert Posts: 32
    Re: Enphase Inverter defective

    By the way I want to make a correction. Its not AC Frequency Out Of Range, the true error is AC voltage Out of Range.
  • Blackcherry04Blackcherry04 Solar Expert Posts: 2,490 ✭✭✭
    Re: Enphase Inverter defective
    andyman wrote: »
    The unit is registered. I had internet when it was installed. They have me in there system, every piece of equipment is registered, and they have all my information. I just cancled the internet part when I canceled the land line.

    But why pay for internet on your cell phone and at home? Oh and I don't have teethering on my cell phone. ATT is onto people who do and for whatever reason they can detect when you do that. I don't want to loose my unlimited plan so I ain't gonna risk it just because enphase depends on internet access for a SOLAR system!

    To enphases credit tho I just got off the phone with them and they are ok with screen shots. I've taken a bunch of screen shots and will send it to them when I get to work.

    All this is warranty crap just stinks to high heavens. I went and bought an extra inverter off ebay just in case they stop selling them. Can't depend on that warranty now. By the way the inverter doesn't actually report voltage.. Just says its out of spec. I went up to the roof and measured the lines on the inverter itself. I get 120V and 119V so its not the grid. Looks like a bad inverter. I'll keep you guys up to date on the warranty status. Either way I'll be up and online as soon as my spare comes in.
    Try sending a 100 lb inverter in for warranty work and then they send it back with a note, " Tested and found to be within Limits " and your out $150 in freight back and forth.

    They call it a registered system when it's connected to the envoy and they receive data.
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,235 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Enphase Inverter defective

    Borrow, for half an hour, a friend with an android phone with Hot Spot. Just enough to get the envoy on the net to "phone home". Or if they take screen shots that's good too.

    Just consider the need for a hotspot phone in the future.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • ggunnggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: Enphase Inverter defective
    andyman wrote: »
    The unit is registered. I had internet when it was installed. They have me in there system, every piece of equipment is registered, and they have all my information. I just cancled the internet part when I canceled the land line.

    But why pay for internet on your cell phone and at home? Oh and I don't have teethering on my cell phone. ATT is onto people who do and for whatever reason they can detect when you do that. I don't want to loose my unlimited plan so I ain't gonna risk it just because enphase depends on internet access for a SOLAR system!

    One reason for their position may be that if they can monitor the unit in situ they can tell more about whatever problem it is having. At least you and they will be looking at the same set of data. If you pull the unit and send it to them, and they look at it and it appears to be OK, then what?
  • Blackcherry04Blackcherry04 Solar Expert Posts: 2,490 ✭✭✭
    Re: Enphase Inverter defective
    ggunn wrote: »
    One reason for their position may be that if they can monitor the unit in situ they can tell more about whatever problem it is having. At least you and they will be looking at the same set of data. If you pull the unit and send it to them, and they look at it and it appears to be OK, then what?
    What my installer said was once they issue a RMA they ship a replacement unit and swap you out, they do pay parts and labor. Like you said, they want to be able to identify the problem and there is a problem. You cannot blame them for having a requirement, especially when it's free service. The funny thing is with Enlighten, they send you a e-mail and tell you there is a problem and how they will resolve it., without internet, well who knows.
  • andymanandyman Solar Expert Posts: 32
    Re: Enphase Inverter defective

    Well I just got a reply from enphase and they refuse to do anything without the data. Heres the problem. First I don't have internet. How does one tie warranty service to your internet connections?
    And even if I did have internet, there should be no expectation that I even would allow a tunnel to be formed from inside the network to the outside. I could setup a DMZ but that would be beyond to scope of any home owner. When I have a defective cisco gear, cisco does not require I ship the unit back.

    So as an alternative I offered to ship my unit to them for verification. If the unit checks out then fine ship it back to me and that will be that. I'll cover the cost of shipping. No biggie. But they have a policy of not doing any technical diagnostics at their facility.

    To me this is an unacceptable support service. What if you lived at the edge of DSL access. What if you live in a remote part of the country. Are you telling me you are not entitled to warranty? So that means anyone who lives along the California north coast aren't granted warranty service? Not even to ship their unit back? Because that is what it seems like to me. Sounds to me like a class action lawsuit.

    If anybody on this forum who doesn't have internet i would not recommend you buy Enphase. You are basically not offered any warranty. I think its time I read the warranty in detail to see what my options are and perhaps file a complain with the secretary of state or the better business beuro.
  • andymanandyman Solar Expert Posts: 32
    Re: Enphase Inverter defective

    http://enphase.com/support/entrust/25-year-limited-warranty/
    I need to find the warranty statement for the M190 but no where in their own warranty statement does it say they won't honor warrranty without envoy. Sounds to me like this company has a very narrow support program.
  • andymanandyman Solar Expert Posts: 32
    Re: Enphase Inverter defective

    Just found the warranty statement for the M190. Its in the User Manual. Again it does not specify that envoy is required.

    All Defective Product must be returned with a Return Merchandise Authorization Number (RMA) which customer must request from Enphase. Before requesting the RMA, however, the customer should contact an Enphase technical support representative to evaluate and troubleshoot the problem while the Enphase Micro-inverter is in the field, since many problems can be solved in the field.
    If in-field troubleshooting does not solve the problem, Customer may request the RMA number, which request must include the following information:
    -
    Proof-of-purchase of the Defective Product in the form of (1) the dated purchase receipt from the original purchase of the product at point of sale to the end user, or (2) the dated dealer invoice or purchase receipt showing original equipment manufacturer (OEM) status, or (3) the dated
    Page 21
    Copyright Enphase Energy Inc. 2009 141-00005 REV 3
    invoice or purchase receipt showing the product exchanged under warranty.
    - Model number of the Defective Product - Serial number of the Defective Product - Detailed description of the defect - Shipping address for return of the repaired or replacement product
    ! All Defective Product authorized for return must be returned in the original shipping container or other packaging that is equally protective of the product
    ! The returned Defective Product must not have been disassembled or modified without the prior written authorization of Enphase
  • inetdoginetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,123 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Enphase Inverter defective
    andyman wrote: »
    Just found the warranty statement for the M190. Its in the User Manual. Again it does not specify that envoy is required.

    "If in-field troubleshooting does not solve the problem,..."

    To the first level tech, his script tells him that in-field troubleshooting is done by connecting to the component. That is why when you got high enough up you were able to provide display information instead.
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • Rick1Rick1 Registered Users Posts: 24
    Re: Enphase Inverter defective

    maybe you can hook your Envoy on the internet at a friends or relative's house. The Envoy stores the data so when the Envoy connects to the web Enphase will have the info they need for warranty claim. Note you might have to leave the Envoy connected for several hours for all the data to down load.
  • ggunnggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: Enphase Inverter defective
    andyman wrote: »
    Well I just got a reply from enphase and they refuse to do anything without the data. Heres the problem. First I don't have internet. How does one tie warranty service to your internet connections?
    And even if I did have internet, there should be no expectation that I even would allow a tunnel to be formed from inside the network to the outside. I could setup a DMZ but that would be beyond to scope of any home owner. When I have a defective cisco gear, cisco does not require I ship the unit back.

    So as an alternative I offered to ship my unit to them for verification. If the unit checks out then fine ship it back to me and that will be that. I'll cover the cost of shipping. No biggie. But they have a policy of not doing any technical diagnostics at their facility.

    To me this is an unacceptable support service. What if you lived at the edge of DSL access. What if you live in a remote part of the country. Are you telling me you are not entitled to warranty? So that means anyone who lives along the California north coast aren't granted warranty service? Not even to ship their unit back? Because that is what it seems like to me. Sounds to me like a class action lawsuit.

    If anybody on this forum who doesn't have internet i would not recommend you buy Enphase. You are basically not offered any warranty. I think its time I read the warranty in detail to see what my options are and perhaps file a complain with the secretary of state or the better business beuro.

    I know this sounds glib, but I am reminded of what my dad always used to say to me - don't fight the problem, solve it. Getting data from the inverter in place gives them more information than a boxed up inverter returned to them, and you know that that is what they want; my advice to you is to find a way to give it to them. Sure, you can go off filing complaints and trying to start lawsuits, but is that what you want to do with your time?
  • Blackcherry04Blackcherry04 Solar Expert Posts: 2,490 ✭✭✭
    Re: Enphase Inverter defective

    From what I can see there is no repair of them to speak of. They look like the epoxy potting is pumped into the case and it's full. If thats the case all they are doing is a direct exchange with the replacement and canning the old one. If this is the case, maybe they could repair the connectors or something. It's also maybe why they do the verification in the field.
  • andymanandyman Solar Expert Posts: 32
    Re: Enphase Inverter defective

    Thanks for all the replies guys. There is absolutely no excuse not to warranty a product you advertise for 10+ years warranty. Also I find it hard to believe a company that designs and manufacturers the product has no way of testing units. And given that I'm paying the expense of shipping, theres just no excuse to require a consumer to provide internet access to diagnose a product vs just accepting the unit for repair.

    When a company gets this cocky the only solution is class action lawsuit. But your right I don't have the time for that given the unit is only $200 or so. I will file a small claims lawsuit instead. We'll see how much it will cost their lawyers to show up in San Francisco. Hopefully I can get them to change their ways.

    But in an effort to avoid any kind of lawsuit I'll contact my installer (he has been out of business for 2 years). He was a 1 man show so hopefully he can still help.

    Anyway thanks everyone for your help and tips. I like enphase products but no company should require internet, or compromise security to warranty a product. I still find it absolutely rediculous that they require a VPN tunnel that originates from the local network. No company would ever allow private tunnel like that. I promise you enphase wouldn't be too happy if I built a tunnel from their office.
  • rollandelliottrollandelliott Solar Expert Posts: 755 ✭✭
    Re: Enphase Inverter defective

    well you can always recommend their new competitor enecsys which look less expensive and better made!;)
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Enphase Inverter defective

    the big question is, do they require the monitoring too?
  • Blackcherry04Blackcherry04 Solar Expert Posts: 2,490 ✭✭✭
    Re: Enphase Inverter defective

    Again, the service is FREE and they alert YOU if there is a problem. If someone chooses not to have a Internet connection, well it's hard to say what they should do, but there should be some kind of accommodation.
  • ggunnggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: Enphase Inverter defective
    andyman wrote: »
    Thanks for all the replies guys. There is absolutely no excuse not to warranty a product you advertise for 10+ years warranty. Also I find it hard to believe a company that designs and manufacturers the product has no way of testing units. And given that I'm paying the expense of shipping, theres just no excuse to require a consumer to provide internet access to diagnose a product vs just accepting the unit for repair.

    When a company gets this cocky the only solution is class action lawsuit. But your right I don't have the time for that given the unit is only $200 or so. I will file a small claims lawsuit instead. We'll see how much it will cost their lawyers to show up in San Francisco. Hopefully I can get them to change their ways.

    But in an effort to avoid any kind of lawsuit I'll contact my installer (he has been out of business for 2 years). He was a 1 man show so hopefully he can still help.

    Anyway thanks everyone for your help and tips. I like enphase products but no company should require internet, or compromise security to warranty a product. I still find it absolutely rediculous that they require a VPN tunnel that originates from the local network. No company would ever allow private tunnel like that. I promise you enphase wouldn't be too happy if I built a tunnel from their office.

    I don't believe it requires VPN to function. I'm pretty sure the system uploads over a regular data link, just like when you go to a website and fill out a form.

    Enphase can check their equipment but they cannot troubleshoot an installation from a returned unit. If you send them your inverter and they find nothing wrong with it, they can only say "it was installed wrong" and send it back to you. Would you be satisfied with that response?

    Good luck in small claims court. Even if you get a judgement against them, collection is your problem (I have been there). All you can sue for is the value of the item, anyway; small claims court cannot award punitive damages. Enphase may just throw $200 at you to make you go away.
  • dreesdrees Solar Expert Posts: 481 ✭✭✭
    Re: Enphase Inverter defective
    andyman wrote: »
    By the way I want to make a correction. Its not AC Frequency Out Of Range, the true error is AC voltage Out of Range.
    To give Enphase some credit here, 98% of the time I've seen this error posted on the Enphase forums, it's not a defective inverter, but the AC voltage is actually too high at the inverter due to either high voltage at the service entrance or insufficient / bad wiring to the inverter...
  • andymanandyman Solar Expert Posts: 32
    Re: Enphase Inverter defective

    Roger that on the small claims. If I can get my $200 + legal cost ($25?) and a promise they will accommodate my warranty then I would have changed their internal policies and I think I would be satisfied with that. I will also file a better business bue.. complaint. Collection should be easy, they are a public company. You know what kind of PR they are gonna get when they have this line item on their SEC filing? And if it doesn't show up there, I'm trying to get it on slashdot. I dunno what their budget for PR / Marketing is but this won't look good for them.

    I've got another enphase M190 coming in the mail and that will prove I have a defective unit. I'll know in about a week.


    If it was an AC voltage problem it would affect more then just 1 inverter. I've also went up to the roof and measured the AC line voltage and its fine. 120v flat. I even put a scope on it just to be sure AND I actively monitor line voltage and line frequency via 2 pairs of Veris Hawkeye enercept meters (one set for solar output, one set for utility input). And if thats not enough I also monitor power via my APC ups.

    Just pisses me off that their policies don't accommodate for no internet. Dumbest thing I've ever heard.
  • ggunnggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: Enphase Inverter defective
    andyman wrote: »
    Roger that on the small claims. If I can get my $200 + legal cost ($25?) and a promise they will accommodate my warranty then I would have changed their internal policies and I think I would be satisfied with that. I will also file a better business bue.. complaint. Collection should be easy, they are a public company. You know what kind of PR they are gonna get when they have this line item on their SEC filing? And if it doesn't show up there, I'm trying to get it on slashdot. I dunno what their budget for PR / Marketing is but this won't look good for them.

    I've got another enphase M190 coming in the mail and that will prove I have a defective unit. I'll know in about a week.


    If it was an AC voltage problem it would affect more then just 1 inverter. I've also went up to the roof and measured the AC line voltage and its fine. 120v flat. I even put a scope on it just to be sure AND I actively monitor line voltage and line frequency via 2 pairs of Veris Hawkeye enercept meters (one set for solar output, one set for utility input). And if thats not enough I also monitor power via my APC ups.

    Just pisses me off that their policies don't accommodate for no internet. Dumbest thing I've ever heard.

    Good luck with that windmill, Mr. Quixote. :D

    I am nowhere near as sure as you seem to be that you would prevail in court. Publicly traded companies generally have pretty good lawyers and it seems to me that it is unlikely that this is a scenario which they have not envisioned and prepared for. Besides that, the burden of proof is on you to prove that the inverter is actually defective and not having a problem with the way it was installed, which is exactly the information Enphase wants to get from your system with their monitoring software and which they cannot get from a returned inverter. Furthermore, if you persist in litigation, and Enphase decides it's not worth the air fare to send a lawyer to fight it out with you in court and they settle with you for $225, then you won't have changed a thing in their internal policies. And I would forget about getting any cooperative customer service from them after that, ever again.

    Is the seemingly problematic microinverter by any chance at the end of the chain farthest from the service? Did you check the voltage with the microinverters running? Voltage drop in the AC lines manifests itself in voltage rise at the terminals of an interconnected inverter, but all the inverters must be running at full power for you to be able to see it. In a string of microinverters, every inverter sees a different voltage at its terminals because of additional voltage drop the farther you get from the service, so your assertion that a single inverter could not be affected is incorrect.

    My money is on the replacement inverter behaving exactly like the old one. My advice to you is (again, still) to look for a way to help them help you solve your problem rather than going to war with them.
  • Blackcherry04Blackcherry04 Solar Expert Posts: 2,490 ✭✭✭
    Re: Enphase Inverter defective

    The issue with suing a company is if they fold your in good shape. If they go to the trouble to hire a attorney they will demand a Jury trial ( A Constitutional Right ). Once that demand is made, the case all of a sudden becomes a full blown Law Suit and has to move up to circuit level where they have juries. At that point you find yourself against the big guns and if the judge lets you Represent Yourself ( Your Right ) you get shafted and they will appeal if they lose. All of a sudden that $25.00 filing fee becomes $25,000.00, been there done that.
  • ggunnggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: Enphase Inverter defective
    The issue with suing a company is if they fold your in good shape. If they go to the trouble to hire a attorney they will demand a Jury trial ( A Constitutional Right ). Once that demand is made, the case all of a sudden becomes a full blown Law Suit and has to move up to circuit level where they have juries. At that point you find yourself against the big guns and if the judge lets you Represent Yourself ( Your Right ) you get shafted and they will appeal if they lose. All of a sudden that $25.00 filing fee becomes $25,000.00, been there done that.

    Like I said, good luck with that windmill, Mr. Quixote. :D

    They might offer an out of court settlement, which is of course up to andyman to accept or reject, but they won't "fold".
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