Let’s face it – warranties aren’t the easiest (or most gripping) documents to read. There are often a lot of details, and fine print included that can be hard to digest, leaving many to wonder: what does the warranty actually cover? Am I vulnerable? Anything I might be missing?
To make it as easy as possible, we’ve read warranty documents for the top inverter equipment manufacturers–and talked to them to confirm what is and isn’t included–and plan to point out the most important aspects of each in a series of articles. In this article, we’ll break down the warranty from a US microinverter company: Northern Electric Power (NEP).
This is an unbiased review: EnergySage is not paid to review brands or products, nor do we earn money from affiliate advertising in this article. The content of this blog is based on research and information available at the time of writing. Learn more about our mission and how we make money as a company.
Highlights of NEP’s warranty
- NEP provides two separate warranty terms: a standard 25-year warranty for microinverters and rapid shutdown devices and five years for accessory equipment like transmitters and monitoring devices.
- The company doesn’t cover the labor needed for repairs or replacements, but it is free to transfer the warranty to new owners of the system.
- If your NEP microinverters aren’t connected to the NEP monitoring platform, they’ll only be covered under warranty for 10 years.
- If you’re an NEP customer, you’ll receive a personal phone number for their technical support staff to help you with any issues you may encounter.
Visit the EnergySage Marketplace to compare solar-plus-storage options from local installers.
Quick overview: NEP’s history and warranty
Founded in California, NEP entered the microinverter industry about 10 years ago and aims to be a credible alternative to some of the larger inverter companies in the industry. They’ve installed inverters in over 35 countries and have invested in the US market with their microinverters and rapid shutdown devices in recent years. Their BDM-800 microinverters are extremely high power and cost about 30 percent less than comparable alternatives.
NEP’s one-page warranty is a bit easier to read and understand compared to many warranty documents. Their microinverters are warrantied for 25 years, but you’ll have to pay for any labor required for replacements or repairs. We’ll explore all the key things you need to know about NEP’s warranty, as well as some of its nuances.
NEP’s warranty at a glance
|Category||NEP coverage||Industry Standard|
|Product (inverter)||25 years||10 years for string inverters, 25 years for microinverters|
|Product (power optimizer equipment – for string inverters only)||Not applicable||25 years|
|Product (communication equipment)||5 years||5 years|
|Shipping of parts||Yes||Yes|
|Transferability||Yes, no transfer fee||Transfer fee|
|Extended warranty offering||No||No|
Also known as a materials warranty, an inverter product warranty covers the integrity of the equipment itself. If your solar inverter has a defect, mechanical issue, or experiences unreasonable wear and tear, that’s where your product warranty comes into play.
NEP offers two separate product warranties for its inverter technologies: a 25-year warranty and a 5-year warranty. The microinverters themselves and the panel-level rapid shutdown devices are covered by the 25-year warranty, similar to the level of coverage for the panels that lie on top of them. On the other hand, the 5-year warranty pertains to any accessory products, including transmitters and monitoring equipment (which provides wireless communication between the microinverters and your monitoring platform).
Inverter replacement: what happens if your product is no longer available?
Let’s say you have a solar inverter that dies after nine years – inverter technology continues to advance, and by then, NEP may have a brand new product stock. Will they be able to replace your broken inverter?
Should this happen to you, NEP will use newer products that are still compatible with your system. It’s important to note that NEP’s warranty states that after the first 10 years, NEP may charge fractionally more for these newer products, based on market value. NEP may also decide to refund or partially refund you for your inverters, which you can then use towards purchasing new inverters.
Does NEP offer extended warranties?
Need more protection for peace of mind? Many solar inverter companies offer extended warranties for their products. Depending on the company and the product, an extended warranty may come at an extra cost or only be available for certain installers who have been certified and endorsed by the manufacturer.
NEP does not currently offer extended warranties for their microinverters.
More often than not, solar installers are the sole party responsible for providing workmanship–or labor–warranties for your solar installation – they’re performing the actual installation work, after all! However, it’s becoming increasingly common for manufacturers to offer an extra safeguard by tacking on their own workmanship warranty coverage. When applicable, it’s typically only an option if you work with specific installers in a manufacturer’s certified network.
NEP does not currently offer a workmanship warranty to their customers.
How to make a warranty claim with NEP: shipping & labor costs
If you experience any defects or performance issues with your equipment, NEP will be there to help.
To start, if you notice an issue with your inverter, your first phone call should be to your original installer: having designed and installed your system, they are the most equipped to diagnose (and fix!) any potential issue. If you can’t get in touch with your installer, or they’ve gone out of business, NEP has a list of authorized service providers for professional field service. You’ll want to make sure that the installer that repairs or replaces your NEP microinverters is authorized by NEP; otherwise, they’ll no longer be covered under the warranty.
Once the installer has identified any issue eligible for a warranty claim, they can begin the return merchandise authorization (RMA) process with NEP directly. Depending on the problem at hand, your installer may be able to troubleshoot the issue remotely. However, in some circumstances, the installer will have to make a site visit in order to either identify or confirm what’s going on with your system.
NEP also offers personal support for their customers, which can be extremely helpful if you run into any issues with your system and want to reach someone directly. According to NEP, if you’re an owner of their microinverters, you’ll have a “first name basis,” personal phone number of technical support staff in addition to their centralized hotline (which is 888-598-9901).
When it comes time for any repairs or replacements, there are two additional warranty considerations you’ll want to keep in mind: labor and shipping costs.
Labor costs for diagnostics, repairs, or replacements
Many manufacturers cover replacement parts at no extra cost, but don’t pay for the labor costs necessary to re-install that equipment. NEP is one of these companies – their warranty does not cover the labor costs associated with removing, installing, or troubleshooting their microinverters.
Shipping of parts
Similarly, not all equipment manufacturers will pay the costs to get equipment to you – but NEP isn’t one of them! NEP will cover the cost of shipping any replacement equipment as long as the failure is covered under warranty.
Comparing product and power warranty terms: the EnergySage Buyer’s Guide
What are some of the most popular NEP products on the market today? Using the EnergySage Buyer’s Guide, you can compare the warranties, performance, and aesthetics of top solar inverters. There’s a lot in there, so we recommend using the filter and sorting functionalities to find the right inverter for you.
Limitations and exceptions
Every warranty comes with limitations and exceptions, including NEP’s. These limitations aren’t meant to make it difficult for you or other customers to take advantage of their offering; at the end of the day, they simply need to protect themselves from unreasonable claims.
Here are a few things that aren’t covered in your NEP warranty:
- Damage resulting from misuse, neglect, improper installation, alteration, or an unsuitable environment.
- Any damage from fire, water, generalized corrosion, biological infestations, or high input voltage due to things like generators or lightning strikes.
- Any products if the original identification (trade-mark, serial number) markings have been defaced, altered, or removed.
Other warranty considerations and how NEP stacks up
- Transferability: As long as your equipment remains in place, you can transfer your NEP warranty to new owners of your system at no cost.
- Bankability: In terms of bankability, NEP positions themselves as “active with the leading financiers and solar insurance providers.”
- Escrows/insurance policies: NEP reserves a fraction of revenue to support their warranties. They also have strong product liability insurance which provides some supplemental support of warranty claims.
- Eligibility: Some manufacturers require customers to permanently connect to their monitoring system in order for their warranty to be valid. If your microinverters aren’t connected to NEP’s data monitoring platform, they’ll only be covered under warranty for 10 years instead of 25.
- Customer reviews: Another critical aspect of understanding a manufacturer’s warranty offering is investigating how their customers feel about their equipment and the services that they provide. Any warranty can look promising on paper, but how the installer or manufacturer performs when honoring their warranty is also critically important. If you are interested in reading NEP’s reviews, you can do so here.
The best way to compare solar inverter options – warranties and all!
The key to finding the right solar panel system for your home is comparing multiple quotes from solar installers. Using the EnergySage Marketplace, you can find local solar installers near you, and make easy side-by-side comparisons of all your solar options, including equipment. By shopping around first, you can find the right option at the right price. If you prefer one type of equipment over another–NEP or otherwise–simply note it in your account when you sign up so installers can quote you accordingly.