Anyone know what SMA Sunny boy Charges for routine maintenance on inverter?

I have several sunny boy 5000 units that have been sitting in a ware house.
I am not the original owner, I bought them second hand. They were pulled from exsisting installations for insurance reasons and were replaced with different units.

I am not sure what is wrong with them. they could have fire/flood/electrical damage as I have not seen them, they could also be perfectly fine. Company selling them is a solar installer, and said they could not use them because they were taken from homes with insurance claims.

Rather than pay expensive shipping to me and then have to pay to have them shiped to SMA for possible repair I think it would be smarter to ship them directly to SMA.

Even if they cost C$500 to $1000 to get fixed each it would be worth it since I got them for cheap.

Anyone have any experience getting an inverter fixed? what parts tend to fail first? From my limited expereince with them, the fuses are the first thing to check and then the jumper switches on the unit.

worst case scenario they are uneconomical to repair and I'll take out the copper and sell it as scrap metal.

Comments

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 30,642 admin
    Re: Anyone know what SMA Sunny boy Charges for routine maintenance on inverter?

    Depends what happened... Generally, the large filter capacitors and switching transistors are what fail (from my little experience). Filter caps are easy and cheap to fix. Switching transistors--perhaps more difficult (when they fail, the can cause a lot more damage).

    If there was smoke damage--That can cause corrosion/electrical issues down the road. Not sure if you can do much to "fix" that.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • rollandelliottrollandelliott Solar Expert Posts: 834 ✭✭
    Re: Anyone know what SMA Sunny boy Charges for routine maintenance on inverter?

    i do not have the knowledge to trouble shoot and repair these inverters. if i didn't send them to sma what kind of company would i call locally that might fix them?
  • solarixsolarix Solar Expert Posts: 713 ✭✭
    Re: Anyone know what SMA Sunny boy Charges for routine maintenance on inverter?

    Inverters are absolutely hard to repair. Only the manufacturer can do it with confidence. Yes, you can replace the most likely stuff to fail like caps or power transistors, but often times there are subtle problems with the rest of the circuitry that if you don't catch that - you'll have a mess. Lots of little subtle design features to get high efficiency. Have to use the right parts too. Might be special selected parts, or custom, proprietary parts. Needs to be tested properly and only the manufacturer has the sophisticated setup to do it right. I don't know about SMA, but I find the solar industry is really trying to make solar successful and not take advantage of customers. Just call their service line, be upfront with what you've got, and I think they'll meet your needs.
  • rollandelliottrollandelliott Solar Expert Posts: 834 ✭✭
    Re: Anyone know what SMA Sunny boy Charges for routine maintenance on inverter?

    yeah that's what I thought I'll get them sent in and report back on what it costs to get them repaired.
  • rollandelliottrollandelliott Solar Expert Posts: 834 ✭✭
    Re: Anyone know what SMA Sunny boy Charges for routine maintenance on inverter?

    already hit the first wall of red tape, these inverters are rebdged sunpower inverters and sma told me I have to go through sunpower for service.
    sunpower hasn't gotten back to me yet and given they are basically just a redistributor, I hope thier after sales support is good.
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Anyone know what SMA Sunny boy Charges for routine maintenance on inverter?

    if i remember correctly, i believe that xantrex made the gt inverters for sunpower.
  • ggunnggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: Anyone know what SMA Sunny boy Charges for routine maintenance on inverter?
    niel wrote: »
    if i remember correctly, i believe that xantrex made the gt inverters for sunpower.
    That may be true for some of them, I dunno, but many Sunpower inverters are indeed rebranded Sunny Boys.
  • rollandelliottrollandelliott Solar Expert Posts: 834 ✭✭
    Re: Anyone know what SMA Sunny boy Charges for routine maintenance on inverter?

    spent half an hour on the phone with solar power.
    they said they had no record of the serial numbers of the inverters I have.
    their standard procedure requires that a dealer field test the inverters before being returned.
    I said that is not possible since inverters are no longer "in the field".
    sunpower would not accept a return unless I gave them the original sun power dealer's name.

    told them I did not have that information.

    told them I would pay for shipping both ways and any service/labor/parts fees.

    I asked them what happends when a home owner buys a system from one of their dealers and then that sunpower dealer goes out of business? With today's solar economy that must be common? they said yes it was common and that they would simply assign them to a new dealer.

    I said well , then assign a new dealer to me?

    Nope can't do that either unless I have the name of the old dealer.

    I told them their web site claims they stand behind their product, and I told them I was willing to pay all costs and all I needed them to do was help. possibly write a letter to sma giving me permission to deal directly with them.

    they said SMA would bill them. I said fine just send me the bill.
    they said I would have to pay shipping both ways, service/labor/parts.

    I said yeah I know, I already told you I would do that.

    they said they would look into it.

    in the end I think they will come up with a solution, but it is frustrating to deal wtih this.
  • Blackcherry04Blackcherry04 Solar Expert Posts: 2,490 ✭✭✭
    Re: Anyone know what SMA Sunny boy Charges for routine maintenance on inverter?

    A little advise, you need a estimate of the repairs and shipping costs before you send them in. I don't know how you would do that. The value of a Used Inverter or a New one ?? I am guessing you wouldn't have a warranty. I have a Large Inverter Service Center close to me and I go by there often. They have pallets of Inverters for scrap, the owners send them in and once they find out the repair cost and the return shipping, they just abandon them and their ownership. Of course you'd only be out shipping one way, they may have a charge for the estimate that you need to consider.

    Depending on how many you have and whats wrong with them you might be able to cannibalize them and get some working. Don't they weigh like 150 lbs ??
  • rollandelliottrollandelliott Solar Expert Posts: 834 ✭✭
    Re: Anyone know what SMA Sunny boy Charges for routine maintenance on inverter?

    yep they weight lot which is why I want to send all 6 at once. should cost bout $100 each to ship them., $600 total, or $1200 round trip.

    If they can fix half of them I would be happy. If they can fix one I'd break even. hoping the odds are in my favor

    thanks for advice
  • Blackcherry04Blackcherry04 Solar Expert Posts: 2,490 ✭✭✭
    Re: Anyone know what SMA Sunny boy Charges for routine maintenance on inverter?

    I wish you luck. What I see them do is look at them to see the obvious and hook them up. They do no repair per se, they Remove and Replace the boards. They will not put in one of their new boards unless they can nail down the problem before they test it. If it's a daughter Board ( Charger or Control Board ) they might replace those. If they have any idea it's the Power board, they will not touch it without replacing everything. If it's a all on one board, it's a replace I'd guess. SMA may be different, but when your paying Bench Labor if might not be cost effective.
  • rollandelliottrollandelliott Solar Expert Posts: 834 ✭✭
    Re: Anyone know what SMA Sunny boy Charges for routine maintenance on inverter?

    sun power hasn't gotten back to me yet, which surprises me since they make such a big ddeal out of customer service on their web site.

    If the bench fee is too high I might just get them shipped here and hook them up to panels and see if any of them work.

    I'll keep you updated since I have yet to read about any warranty repair costs on this or any oher web site.
  • ggunnggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: Anyone know what SMA Sunny boy Charges for routine maintenance on inverter?
    sun power hasn't gotten back to me yet, which surprises me since they make such a big ddeal out of customer service on their web site.
    You aren't a customer. :D
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Anyone know what SMA Sunny boy Charges for routine maintenance on inverter?
    ggunn wrote: »
    You aren't a customer. :D

    and might not wind up being a customer with slow to no pr.
  • ggunnggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: Anyone know what SMA Sunny boy Charges for routine maintenance on inverter?
    niel wrote: »
    and might not wind up being a customer with slow to no pr.
    Be that as it may, it is not surprising to me that SunPower is unresponsive. They don't make inverters, they just rebrand SMA Sunny Boys and have a service agreement with SMA. If you buy a bunch of out of warranty broken "SunPower" inverters and want to get them fixed, there is no incentive for SunPower to do anything; they would have to pay SMA to work on them. Neither does SMA have any incentive; they sold those inverters to SunPower, who sold them to someone else, so as far as they are concerned, they are done with them.

    Unfortunately, inverters, like most electronics, are not worth fixing when they break if you have to pay full price for diagnostic work and parts replacement.
  • rollandelliottrollandelliott Solar Expert Posts: 834 ✭✭
    Re: Anyone know what SMA Sunny boy Charges for routine maintenance on inverter?

    sma charges $160 for diagnostic test
    $700 to swapout inverter for refurbished one
    plus shipping to0k less than 30 minutes to get that info from them.

    sunpower wouldn't honor warranty because I was not original buyer

    supower was not concerned at all in helping me getting inverters fixed.

    their only goal was to prove that they were not covered under their warranty.

    pointless because I told them up front i did not expect it too be covered under warranty.

    i will never buy a used sunpower product again.

    i would also not buy a home with a sunpower system since I would not be the original owner and they do not help you at all unless you can tell them the installers name.

    now i'm going to have to read sma's warranty and see if it has "original owner" escape clause.

    i'm starting to get the feeling most solar warranty is useless.
  • inetdoginetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,123 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Anyone know what SMA Sunny boy Charges for routine maintenance on inverter?

    now i'm going to have to read sma's warranty and see if it has "original owner" escape clause.

    i'm starting to get the feeling most solar warranty is useless.

    FWIW, the printed standard SMA warranty will probably not (legally anyway) apply, except possibly as a pass-through, to the rebadged third-party sale through SunPower. But SMA might do you a favor for goodwill if you connect with the right person, or work through a dealer or installer who has an ongoing business relationship with them.
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • Blackcherry04Blackcherry04 Solar Expert Posts: 2,490 ✭✭✭
    Re: Anyone know what SMA Sunny boy Charges for routine maintenance on inverter?

    I think your going to have a hard time with SMA having much interest in a pallet of Inverters that were sold as salvage after a lightening strikes. Seems like the offer they made you was a good one. It's hard to get them to cover Act's of God.
  • rollandelliottrollandelliott Solar Expert Posts: 834 ✭✭
    Re: Anyone know what SMA Sunny boy Charges for routine maintenance on inverter?

    no one said anything about lightening strikes!!!!, the condition of the inverters is unknown. for all I know I could be blowing over $1300 to get them tested, but the peace of mind knowing they were tested is worth it.
  • Blackcherry04Blackcherry04 Solar Expert Posts: 2,490 ✭✭✭
    Re: Anyone know what SMA Sunny boy Charges for routine maintenance on inverter?
    no one said anything about lightening strikes!!!!, the condition of the inverters is unknown. for all I know I could be blowing over $1300 to get them tested, but the peace of mind knowing they were tested is worth it.
    oops, my mistake, I thought you said that in your OP, It was " they could have fire/flood/electrical damage" I stand corrected.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 30,642 admin
    Re: Anyone know what SMA Sunny boy Charges for routine maintenance on inverter?

    To be practical--Pop the covers on the inverters and see if they "look and smell clean"... If so--They why not power them up and see what happens. Either they work, work then fail, or don't start. Saves shipping/inspecting the ones that seem to work, and you have some documentation to send with the ones that failed.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • ggunnggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: Anyone know what SMA Sunny boy Charges for routine maintenance on inverter?
    sma charges $160 for diagnostic test
    $700 to swapout inverter for refurbished one
    plus shipping to0k less than 30 minutes to get that info from them.

    sunpower wouldn't honor warranty because I was not original buyer

    supower was not concerned at all in helping me getting inverters fixed.

    their only goal was to prove that they were not covered under their warranty.

    pointless because I told them up front i did not expect it too be covered under warranty.

    i will never buy a used sunpower product again.

    i would also not buy a home with a sunpower system since I would not be the original owner and they do not help you at all unless you can tell them the installers name.

    now i'm going to have to read sma's warranty and see if it has "original owner" escape clause.

    i'm starting to get the feeling most solar warranty is useless.
    None of that surprises me. Out of warranty work is always expensive.

    When there is no traceability or assurance of proper care/maintenance, most companies will do what they can to avoid the money losing proposition of repairing or replacing equipment that has been out of their control. I don't blame them.
  • rollandelliottrollandelliott Solar Expert Posts: 834 ✭✭
    Re: Anyone know what SMA Sunny boy Charges for routine maintenance on inverter?
    BB. wrote: »
    To be practical--Pop the covers on the inverters and see if they "look and smell clean"... If so--They why not power them up and see what happens. Either they work, work then fail, or don't start. Saves shipping/inspecting the ones that seem to work, and you have some documentation to send with the ones that failed.

    -Bill
    Because it will cost me $400 to ship then to me to inspect them
    I'm doubting ill be that lucky
  • rollandelliottrollandelliott Solar Expert Posts: 834 ✭✭
    Re: Anyone know what SMA Sunny boy Charges for routine maintenance on inverter?
    ggunn wrote: »
    None of that surprises me. Out of warranty work is always expensive.

    When there is no traceability or assurance of proper care/maintenance, most companies will do what they can to avoid the money losing proposition of repairing or replacing equipment that has been out of their control. I don't blame them.
    I don't blame them either for not doing waranty work
    I blame them for wasting my time by not honoring my request to work with sma direct from day 1!
  • rollandelliottrollandelliott Solar Expert Posts: 834 ✭✭
    Re: Anyone know what SMA Sunny boy Charges for routine maintenance on inverter?

    sma told me that from irene they are getting a lot of repair inquiries. I guess when you live in an area that has flood potential it is best to up high
  • inetdoginetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,123 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Anyone know what SMA Sunny boy Charges for routine maintenance on inverter?
    sma told me that from irene they are getting a lot of repair inquiries. I guess when you live in an area that has flood potential it is best to up high

    Just wait till the inquiries from Sandy start coming in. :-)
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
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