As solar energy becomes an increasingly popular source of electricity, many UK homeowners are deciding to install solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. But like any other technology, solar PV systems require maintenance and sometimes replacement of their components. One of the most critical components of a solar PV system is the inverter.
If your solar PV inverter is no longer working efficiently, you may need to replace it. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the cost of replacing a solar PV inverter in the UK and the best manufacturers.
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Solar PV inverter replacement costs vary considerably from one inverter to the other. Generally speaking, the cost of replacing a solar power inverter can range anywhere from £500 to a couple thousand pounds, depending on the solar PV inverter your solar panels currently run on and the type you choose to go with.
This is because solar PV inverter replacement costs depend upon a range of factors, including the potential power output of an inverter, its conversion efficiency, and the type of solar panel inverter it is. For instance, solar PV inverter replacement costs tend to be higher for micro inverters than for string inverters (also often referred to as central inverters).
If you are unsure what type of solar power inverter you currently have, get in touch with your original installer to get more information about your solar PV system, or simply take a look at your contractual agreement.
Without getting too technical, a solar power inverter is a large component within a solar panel system that converts the direct current (DC) produced by your solar panels into ready-to-use alternating current (AC) to power your home.
Most inverters typically have a conversion efficiency between 93% and 96%. However, there are certain newer models that have efficiency ratings in the range of 97% and 99%. Seeing as these inverters are more effective at converting energy, the solar PV inverter costs of these inverters are significantly higher compared to less efficient ones in the market.
Second only to the costs of solar panels themselves, solar PV inverter replacement costs make up one of the biggest expenses in any given solar panel system and typically fall into two types: string inverters and micro inverters. For more general information on solar panels, you can check out our Ultimate Guide to Solar Panels.
While general solar power inverter repairs and replacements do not have to be done by the original installer, it is recommended to double-check your initial agreement in order to see if contracting another installer might affect your warranty.
String inverters are the lower cost option when compared to micro inverters, and have seen rapid market adoption across the UK in recent years.
The reason behind why the solar PV inverter replacement cost is cheaper when it comes to string inverters, is that this inverter type takes its energy input from a chain of solar panels referred to as a ‘string’. The performance of this so-called ‘string’ is governed by the performance of the weakest panel in it.
So, if there is even one shaded panel on a string of 14 panels that receives a less-than-ideal amount of solar energy, then all the other accompanying panels would suffer the same equivalent loss in output, which in turn would bring down the collective performance of the entire string.
Most string inverters come with a 5- to 10-year warranty that can be extended for a premium. Considering most solar panels come with a 25-year warranty, it goes without saying that you will at some point have to replace your inverters.
The average solar PV inverter replacement cost of a string inverter typically ranges from £500 to £1500. Your installer can offer you more information on which inverter would best suit your needs and which ones they use most often.
|String Inverter Advantages||String Inverter Disadvantages|
|Lower upfront costs compared to micro inverters||More susceptible to reductions in efficiency as a result of uneven radiation|
|Indoor installation means they are less prone to wear and tear than micro inverters||Heavily influenced by single points of failure — i.e. if one panel fails, it also affects the output of other panels|
Micro inverters are most commonly used on smaller arrays and are essentially small inverters that are directly mounted behind individual solar panels. In other words, these inverters convert the DC output from each panel at the very source of energy creation.
The reason micro inverters cost more is simply that they resolve many of the problems associated with string inverters. Their modular systems, for instance, not only offer a space-saving benefit, but they also ensure that one malfunctioning panel does not affect the productivity of an entire string of solar panels.
The average solar PV inverter replacement cost of a micro inverter typically ranges from £20 per unit to £100 per unit. Considering the average solar PV system in the UK comprises 14 panels, this means that a total revamp can run investment costs upwards of £2,500 — which includes the cost for installation elements, such as wiring.
But the solar PV inverter replacement costs of micro inverters aren’t just higher, this type of inverter also tends to be slightly more time-consuming and trickier to install and replace than string inverters. That being said, because micro inverters deal with much lower input voltage quantities than their cheaper counterparts, they do last considerably longer: sometimes up to 25 years.
If cost is your biggest concern, many users do purchase long-term solar warranties to cover their solar PV inverter replacement costs.
|Micro Inverter Advantages||Micro Inverter Disadvantages|
|Better performance in shaded conditions with higher overall yields||High upfront costs and more time-consuming to install|
|A defective solar panel has no effect on the generation of other solar panels since they operate independently of each other||More prone to wear and tear due to their location (on rooftops rather than indoors)|
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While most solar power inverters come with a lifespan of approximately 5 to 10 years, they do require regular maintenance in order to ensure optimal solar PV inverter efficiency. For instance, a high quality, well-maintained string inverter can last up to 15 years, whereas a low-end, not-so-well-maintained solar power inverter will barely manage to last for 5 years.
Oftentimes, when the energy output of a given solar panel system decreases, many users immediately assume that the inverter is to blame. However, this decline in productivity is to be expected over the lifespan of any solar panel system.
This is why, rather than jumping to conclusions, it is important that users carry out a proper health check on their inverter in order to determine if it’s time for a solar inverter replacement, or simply for a solar panel repair.
If your current inverter has caused you enough grief to make you absolutely want to switch brands, bear in mind that not only will the solar PV inverter replacement costs of doing so be higher, but different inverters can sometimes have different AC/DC connectors, which means that switching to a different brand may take longer to implement than a like-for-like replacement would.
Also, before going forward with your solar PV inverter replacement, it is recommended that you contact your Feed-in Tariff licensee and inform them of the nature of your project in order to ensure your eligibility to FIT payments is unaffected.
To determine the best solar power inverter for you, there are certain aspects you must consider aside from price, including:
To help you familiarise yourself with the UK inverter market, the following is a list of the most popular manufacturers of solar power inverters in the UK:
Founded just over a decade ago in Israel, Solaredge is arguably one of the biggest leaders in the solar PV inverter market today with a diverse product range offering both micro inverters and string inverters. Many installers recommend Solaredge inverters for more complicated panel layouts (i.e. different panels with different elevations and orientations) and where uneven irradiation might be an issue.
Founded in 1981 in Germany, SMA is notorious for their post-sale service and low failure rates. Although the company does demand a premium on its products, it also offers users extended warranties for competitive pricing where defective inverters are replaced with a new one for zero additional fees.
Founded in Austria in 1945, Fronius is a close competitor of SMA that is quickly gaining traction across the UK both in residential and commercial markets. Perhaps one of Fronius’ biggest selling points is that Fronius inverters allow users to easily monitor real-time inverter performance data via web or app.
Based in China, SolaX Power’s inverters are generally more affordable than their Western peers. While their solar PV inverter replacement costs do tend to be lower, they are known to be slightly less reliable and have shorter warranty periods than the previously mentioned inverters.
Formerly known as Power One, ABB are slightly more reliable than SolaX Power and considerably cheaper than SMA. They are also well-known for their exceptional after-sale service and low failure rates.
If you’re in the market for a new solar power inverter, make sure you do your research properly and know exactly what your needs and requirements are. You should also try to get as many solar PV inverter replacement cost quotes from as many different installers as you possibly can.
We also recommend getting in touch with trusted bodies such as the Energy Saving Trust and the Microgeneration Certification Scheme for independent advice on which inverter would best suit your needs and requirements.
For more information on solar PV inverter replacement costs, click the button below and receive up to 3 quotes from the best suppliers in the UK. This service provided by GreenMatch is completely free and non-binding.
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Natalie is the Content Manager at GreenMatch. She is educated in media & communications, and has several years of international experience in marketing and content creation. Natalie’s focus lies in the areas of finance, sustainability, business communications, and more. She and her content team have been published in reputable sites like EcoWatch, Sunday Post, Earth911, and more.