SMA no longer repairs swr 2500 inverters who does?

Ray DRay D Registered Users Posts: 5
Have a fault code of Bfr-Srr on a SMA sunny boy swr 2500u inverter. According to the manual this code reads as an internal hardware problem. Spoke to SMA today they said they will no longer repair or recondition any inverters out of thier warranty period. They will of course sell me a new one but i am not looking to spend a few more thousand to get back producing power. Does anyone know who is willing to repair these things ? I have spoken to many repair places that have no problem repairing an outback or a xantrex but will not touch an SMA. Is this what things are comming to? just toss that 3,000 dollar item can't fix it!!!:cry:
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Comments

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,644 admin
    Re: SMA no longer repairs swr 2500 inverters who does?

    Was that a five or ten year warranty?

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Ray DRay D Registered Users Posts: 5
    Re: SMA no longer repairs swr 2500 inverters who does?

    5 year warranty. I know it is way over but do not want to toss it if possible.
  • Blackcherry04Blackcherry04 Solar Expert Posts: 2,490 ✭✭✭
    Re: SMA no longer repairs swr 2500 inverters who does?

    I go down to a Inverter Service Center often. They don't really " Repair " anything. All they do is remove and replace the boards. They open them and do a little trouble shooting on the 3 boards and look for something burnt. Then they'll stick a new board in it, then they'll change another one if they don't find the problem. In the end if you don't want it repaired they yank the boards out and put it on a scrap pallet. Most people realize that putting $600 in a 5 year old Inverter isn't a smart move. They won't touch a " all on one Board inverter ".
  • Ray DRay D Registered Users Posts: 5
    Re: SMA no longer repairs swr 2500 inverters who does?

    black cherry what center do you go to? do they repair SMA inverters ? I guess I am SOL Unless i can get a hold of replacement boards for my unit. I didn't junk my $1,500 computer because the hard drive went bad. I fixed it for $200
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,644 admin
    Re: SMA no longer repairs swr 2500 inverters who does?

    But you probably would not have paid $200 to save an 8-10 year old PC either...

    It is difficult these days to manufacture and repair old designs. I would at one company that spent much of its time trying to ensure a supply change of Z80 micro processors and various other components (this was a couple decades ago).

    The equipment worked, was selling well, and as an embedded control type system, did not really need to upgrade (at that time). We were constantly chasing the commercial PC market to keep costs low--But getting stung on the back side when components did not have much more than a two year availability before they were replaced by something cheaper/better/faster.

    I understand both from the customer point of view and the mfg. point of view. There is no good answer (we paid 2x or more from some hardware just to keep it coming, or picking certain processor families/packaging because they were supposed to have a longer product cycle).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Blackcherry04Blackcherry04 Solar Expert Posts: 2,490 ✭✭✭
    Re: SMA no longer repairs swr 2500 inverters who does?
    Ray D wrote: »
    black cherry what center do you go to? do they repair SMA inverters ? I guess I am SOL Unless i can get a hold of replacement boards for my unit. I didn't junk my $1,500 computer because the hard drive went bad. I fixed it for $200
    Inverter Sales and Service, White House, TN. They repair and sell all major brands. Their a Division of Marysville Marine. I don't think there is anyone around that repairs boards on a one on one basis. There are some sellers of refurbished boards, but they won't repair your board. For $200 they won't even look inside.

    Why would you think SMA won't repair them ?? I think a SMA would be out of their capability. There is always posting in here that has bought a / some salvage Inverters looking for someone to repair them. If you find someone post it.
  • solar_davesolar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,345 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: SMA no longer repairs swr 2500 inverters who does?

    I see SMA point of view here, a new SMA 2500 inverter is $1730 from our sponsor at retail. How much do you think it would cost to fix the old one?
  • Ray DRay D Registered Users Posts: 5
    Re: SMA no longer repairs swr 2500 inverters who does?

    this situation is very similar to my green blinking light of death on my 65" tv. Called 3 different repair places 1 said they would look at it for 250 service call plus parts if they could fix it and the other two flat out refused. I almost tossed it untill i spoke to my father inlaw who wisely told me if it happened to you it must have happened to other people and there would be someone out there who can help. Sure enough I found a service blog that had the same exact symptoms and was able to fix a 3 thousand dollar tv for exactly $12.75 myself. It was 3 bad capacitors that were around 3 bucks a piece. One tv guy said it was unrepairable which was utter nonsense. The question is allways is it worth repairing? in the case of the tv it was yes. Now i realize the inverter is a different animal And for SMA repairing it , they flat out said no they will not even look at it which doesn't give me a warm fuzzy feeling about SMA. Should I go with another SMA or say, a xantrex or outback or some other kind, any insight would be appreciated. also spoke to those guys in tennesse they don't do SMA only SMA repairs SMA sounds like a proprietary monopoly to me. 18 165 w sharp panels
  • ggunnggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: SMA no longer repairs swr 2500 inverters who does?
    Ray D wrote: »
    this situation is very similar to my green blinking light of death on my 65" tv. Called 3 different repair places 1 said they would look at it for 250 service call plus parts if they could fix it and the other two flat out refused. I almost tossed it untill i spoke to my father inlaw who wisely told me if it happened to you it must have happened to other people and there would be someone out there who can help. Sure enough I found a service blog that had the same exact symptoms and was able to fix a 3 thousand dollar tv for exactly $12.75 myself. It was 3 bad capacitors that were around 3 bucks a piece. One tv guy said it was unrepairable which was utter nonsense. The question is allways is it worth repairing? in the case of the tv it was yes. Now i realize the inverter is a different animal And for SMA repairing it , they flat out said no they will not even look at it which doesn't give me a warm fuzzy feeling about SMA.
    How long, in your opinion, should a company continue to support discontinued hardware? Through the warranty period for equipment in the field, certainly, and for some time thereafter, but at some point they have to let it go.
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: SMA no longer repairs swr 2500 inverters who does?

    rayd,
    there is often a point of no return that is inevitable. you were lucky with your tv that it was commonly available parts. had those been discontinued transistors or integrated circuits it would have been another story.

    what you did hit on was technician inexperience in an age where it is cheaper to replace an entire board rather than trouble shoot it down to the faulty parts. that is how industry looks at it nowadays, but from your point of view this is not the case and often times many electronic items can be revived cheaply if you know where the problem is and if parts are available. you might say that often times a transistor has a substitute, but this doesn't always fit all applications due to some differences and even if acceptable as a substitute all of the transistors would need replaced in an inverter for instance as they must be balanced. think in terms of allot of paralleled batteries handling a large load. you don't want different sized batteries handling things as that leads to a quick failure and the same goes for transistors. sometimes even parts with the same part id need to be matched further for that balance.

    sorry, got carried away a bit.
  • inetdoginetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,123 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: SMA no longer repairs swr 2500 inverters who does?
    niel wrote: »
    what you did hit on was technician inexperience in an age where it is cheaper to replace an entire board rather than trouble shoot it down to the faulty parts.

    Q: How many "modern" technicians does it take to change a flat tire?

    A(in white): Five. That's four to pick up and lower the car and one to swap tires until he finds the one that's flat.

    [highlight the answer with your mouse. -BB ;)]
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • Ray DRay D Registered Users Posts: 5
    Re: SMA no longer repairs swr 2500 inverters who does?
    ggunn wrote: »
    How long, in your opinion, should a company continue to support discontinued hardware? Through the warranty period for equipment in the field, certainly, and for some time thereafter, but at some point they have to let it go.

    you know that is a good question. Well every industry is different, for instance you can still get parts for a 1965 ford mustang all day long as well as some appliances that are well over 20 years old so I guess my answer would be as long as there is 50% of the items sold still out in the field or a large demand for repair. I don't think there is an obligation for the initial manufacturer to repair it but they should not have a product where no other repair center can repair it because it has proprietary information. This sounds like what many car companies have tried to do by not allowing the average mechanic to fix their product because he does not have the codes. I believe this particular situation went to court and the car company lost and had to give up the info to the general public so anyone could fix their cars not just the dealer. It seems like the boards, chips and other electronics could be purchased by a second level supplier but if SMA has to keep making old chips to keep these old guys running i can see it being unprofitable and therefore justifiable to say sorry you need to upgrade . I wonder if I can claim its demise on my insurance , you know I think it was hit by lightning.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,644 admin
    Re: SMA no longer repairs swr 2500 inverters who does?

    I think most people assume that 10 years for repair/support of a product... And I will tell you from experience, 5 years is pushing it for most electronics companies.

    Add that you may have a product that is stable and sell for 5-10 years (plus 5-10 years of "repairs/support") and the average high tech electronic part (processors, memory, various packaging options) seems to have an 18-36 month life--In the industries I worked in (voice mail, networking), we spent a huge amount of time trying to battle parts going end of life all the time.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • ggunnggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: SMA no longer repairs swr 2500 inverters who does?
    Ray D wrote: »
    you know that is a good question. Well every industry is different, for instance you can still get parts for a 1965 ford mustang all day long...
    Not from Ford, you can't, unless it is a part still being used on new(er) cars.
  • CompuhansCompuhans Registered Users Posts: 1
    Re: SMA no longer repairs swr 2500 inverters who does?

    I have been repairing various solar inverters for people who had a inverter go bad that is out of warranty, usually they can be restored to where years of life are added to the unit.
    I fix Sunnyboy 1800 2100 2500 3000 4000, Xantrex , Power One Aurora and PV powered ( and likely others if they came across my workbench)
    Only in case of catastrophic burnout do I tell them to throw them out.


    BB. wrote: »
    I think most people assume that 10 years for repair/support of a product... And I will tell you from experience, 5 years is pushing it for most electronics companies.

    Add that you may have a product that is stable and sell for 5-10 years (plus 5-10 years of "repairs/support") and the average high tech electronic part (processors, memory, various packaging options) seems to have an 18-36 month life--In the industries I worked in (voice mail, networking), we spent a huge amount of time trying to battle parts going end of life all the time.

    -Bill
  • solar_davesolar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,345 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: SMA no longer repairs swr 2500 inverters who does?
    Compuhans wrote: »
    I have been repairing various solar inverters for people who had a inverter go bad that is out of warranty, usually they can be restored to where years of life are added to the unit.
    I fix Sunnyboy 1800 2100 2500 3000 4000, Xantrex , Power One Aurora and PV powered ( and likely others if they came across my workbench)
    Only in case of catastrophic burnout do I tell them to throw them out.


    WOW you ought to give your contact details I think.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,644 admin
    Re: SMA no longer repairs swr 2500 inverters who does?

    The poster is probably out of southern California and will be allowed (if he wishes) to post email/website/phone number if he wishes.

    Otherwise, we (moderators) don't know anything else about the poster and anyone who wishes, may send a PM to the poster too.

    -Bill "Moderator" B.
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • kirbinsterkirbinster Registered Users Posts: 4
    Re: SMA no longer repairs swr 2500 inverters who does?

    So, what is the chance of getting a 2500U fixed, I too am having problems with mine. Anyone with info on someone to fix it please contact me. Thanks.
  • ChowderSchitzlChowderSchitzl Registered Users Posts: 1
    Re: SMA no longer repairs swr 2500 inverters who does?

    I get it, the current economy makes it hard to spend more than you have to. I've read this thread and the comments are generally DIY and the low cost options to fix an outdated SMA inverters.

    How come no one mention about safety and reliability of voltage and amperage connected to a house? Every solar system is uniquely designed for each home based on usage, system wires capacity, solar modules capacity, and manufacturer's inverter capacity, grid connectivity, etc.

    So you nickle-and-dime to fix an outdated inverter but how well will you sleep or when you're not at home and it's record heat setting? How much would you save if the roof catches on fire or the main electrical panel is burned out? What is the replacement value of your house for hazard events? A solar system and its parts are non-comparable to a simple home PC or a TV!
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: SMA no longer repairs swr 2500 inverters who does?
    I get it, the current economy makes it hard to spend more than you have to. I've read this thread and the comments are generally DIY and the low cost options to fix an outdated SMA inverters.

    How come no one mention about safety and reliability of voltage and amperage connected to a house? Every solar system is uniquely designed for each home based on usage, system wires capacity, solar modules capacity, and manufacturer's inverter capacity, grid connectivity, etc.

    So you nickle-and-dime to fix an outdated inverter but how well will you sleep or when you're not at home and it's record heat setting? How much would you save if the roof catches on fire or the main electrical panel is burned out? What is the replacement value of your house for hazard events? A solar system and its parts are non-comparable to a simple home PC or a TV!

    There is no reason to believe there is any danger from a repaired unit providing it is repaired to original manufacturer's specifications. No one is suggesting removal of any circuit protection or altering of current paths which would increase risk of starting a fire. if a repaired unit fails it will fail with the same non-catastrophic results the original would. No increase in the danger of setting the roof or any other part of the house on fire.

    It really is not an issue.
  • jclothijclothi Registered Users Posts: 1
    Re: SMA no longer repairs swr 2500 inverters who does?

    Ray D:
    How did your situation work out, regarding the failed swr 2500? Did you find a repair service?
    If not, I can help you. I am retired but I will help people (only) that are financially squeezed (and screwed by sma!) and simply will be unable to get back on line, otherwise. Why cant they understand that there is good will to be had in providing support? Anyone with your experience may be expected to never buy another sma product, huh!
    [email]jclothi -at- attglobal.net[/email]
  • ggunnggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: SMA no longer repairs swr 2500 inverters who does?
    jclothi wrote: »
    Ray D:
    How did your situation work out, regarding the failed swr 2500? Did you find a repair service?
    If not, I can help you. I am retired but I will help people (only) that are financially squeezed (and screwed by sma!) and simply will be unable to get back on line, otherwise. Why cant they understand that there is good will to be had in providing support? Anyone with your experience may be expected to never buy another sma product, huh!
    [email]jclothi -at- attglobal.net[/email]

    I don't know of any manufacturer who would pledge to service every product they ever made, forever. If you take your Model T into a Ford dealership to get it fixed, I doubt they could help you.
  • greensolarelectricgreensolarelectric Registered Users Posts: 3
    Re: SMA no longer repairs swr 2500 inverters who does?

    I repair/refurbish SMA Grid tie inverters. I offer a 6 month warranty on all repaired inverters. And i offer a 1 year warranty for a additional $50

    Most repairs cost from $200-$600.

    Thanks,

    Greensolarelectric
  • rice81rice81 Registered Users Posts: 25
    Re: SMA no longer repairs swr 2500 inverters who does?

    I don't have specific experience with inverters, but I would consider what could be failing. About the only thing that fails incrementally is capacitors. Electrolytics lose capacitance and increase their leakage over time until they either cause failure of other circuits that depend on their function or they burn up.

    Semiconductors, inductors, transformers generally either work vs fail totally. Look at the circuit boards and assess the accessibility of any electrolytic caps, starting with the largest first. Remove them carefully with proper rework tools like solder suction and solder wick. Measure the lead spacing and cap dimensions and note the values (voltage and capacitance). You should be able to find the exact part in terms of electrical and mechanical specs on Digikey or other supplier.

    If you can identify any test points on any boards, you can measure voltages as indicated by the labels ("12V, 5V, etc") and if you have a scope, look at the power pins on any chips that you can identify (Pin 1 and pin 8 on a 14 pin DIP, typically for example). Voltage out of range or with spikes, or ripple would indicate a power supply problem. It is difficult to think of the 'power supply' to the inverter since is is sort of a power supply itself, but it will have a few voltage regulators or power management chips depending on its age. Check the output from these. As a general answer, power supply failure is the top pick for failure of any electrical device.

    So, depending on how much you want to try on your own, these are some ideas. As I mentioned, I am not so familiar with inverters, but have fixed many devices with this general approach. Good luck!
  • bnes`bnes` Registered Users Posts: 1
    Re: SMA no longer repairs swr 2500 inverters who does?

    For anyone landing on this page, here's contact for the vendor mentioned above who will repair Sunny Boy SMA Inverters:

    Green solar electric
    P.O.Box 272
    Covelo, CA 95428
    707-621-5107
    http://greensolarelectric.com/Contact.html

    I am not affilliated with the vendor, but have a unit that needs repair.
  • perfoperfo Registered Users Posts: 1
    Re: SMA no longer repairs swr 2500 inverters who does?

    I can see the manufacturers angle their business is selling new ones so it's not in their interest to support old ones for any great length of time.
    However that's exacerbated by being secretive with circuit diagrams and the such. They know their actions will result in large amounts of devices going to scrap for probably the sake of a few cents worth of components. It is unethical in this age of gross waste to try and force people to scrap easily repairable items.
    So my view is fair enough they don't/ can't support it but make the documentation available for those that can so at least they can say they have done their bit to prevent waste. I have a 5000W inverter and at present (crossing fingers) it is still working at near four years old I had always thought the community will catch up by the time mine goes pop and I'll be able to get circuit diagrams etc, as whilst i'm no expert I have a modicum of expertise in electronics and believe I can decide if it's worth repairing or not.
    Oh and hello ,, I'm a newbie..
  • vtmapsvtmaps Solar Expert Posts: 3,738 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: SMA no longer repairs swr 2500 inverters who does?
    perfo wrote: »
    It is unethical in this age of gross waste to try and force people to scrap easily repairable items.

    Welcome to the forum. It costs money to maintain a parts inventory and distribution system for obsolete equipment. It costs money to maintain repair expertise for obsolete equipment. The labor to diagnose and replace components is expensive. When the costs of repairing obsolete equipment meets or exceeds the price of newer equipment, most folks buy new. Therefore, most manufacturers don't maintain obsolete equipment because there is no market.

    --vtMaps
    4 X 235watt Samsung, Midnite ePanel, Outback VFX3524 FM60 & mate, 4 Interstate L16, trimetric, Honda eu2000i
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