Orphaned Solar Panels (2012~31)
Oh, no! My solar panel maker just went out of business. What am I to do?
Okay, you are still loosing sleep so let’s look at this rationally. You thought that SuperDuper Solar was a sure bet. They had the best panels and cost only $100 each. How could they ever go bust? Easy … they were only charging you $100 for a thing that cost $1,000. Who could have imagined this outcome? … Duh! Everyone. But now you are “stuck” with them.
That’s true, but in order for you to need warranty service, one of the panels needs to fail … and that is a very rare thing in the solar business. SkyPower has been doing this for years and years and has NEVER seen a failed solar panel after installation. We’ve seen one dropped at the factory and heard about one that was dead on delivery, but was never installed. Other than that, this is a problem you are not likely to ever see.
If it does happen to you, call your solar installation company. If they are out of business, then call SkyPower. We’ll be there for you. Here’s a run down of what we will do …
(1) Call all of the panel distributors and see if the happen to have a matching panel in their warehouse.
(2) Check the Internet for “used” panel brokers. They exist and might have a panel for you.
(3) Try redesigning the system to handle one less panel. A 21 panel system (3 strings of 7) might be reconfigurable to 20 panels (2 strings of 10). This might also work for removal of a second panel (now you’d have a spare).
(4) Try finding a panel of the same technology (poly silicon for example) that is the same size and shape (and color?) and a very close match in voltage and amperage. This will also be close in watts because watts equals volts times amps. Go big on this … not too big, but a little big. Let’s say that you have Solon 235′s (good panel … but they they bellied up last year because they don’t know how to run a business) and one goes down. If you can’t find a Solon 235, then perhaps a Solon 240 might work. It very well could be from the same batch run only a better tester. Going with another panel maker will work if the new panel is more powerful than the one that failed. You won’t get more power from it than the one you are replacing so don’t get excited and think that replacing a failed 235 with a new 285 will give you 50 more watts of power. It doesn’t work that way. You’ll be lucky to get over 200 watts … be happy you found a working panel.
(5) Eliminate the entire string from the centralized inverter and reconnect the panels with micro inverters. You may need to reconfigure the entire array to get this to work, but it can be done. It also will cost you a fair penny as you will need to buy the inverters and maybe another panel.
(6) Take this opportunity to expand the whole system. Redesign with new and improved parts. Go big! The old system was 3kW and now you can go up to 6kW or more. You’ll need the power to run the A/C during these crazy hot summers or even to power your electric car. Use what you can and add what you need. This might truly turn lemons into lemonade.
So you see … this is not a disaster. It’s not even a likely scenario. Sure it could happen, but if it does, don’t worry. Panel and related parts prices are always dropping. Imagine what you would do if your PC-286 failed. It’s sort of like that.