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 of a popular string inverter company that’s also in the process of launching a new microinverter product: Sol-Ark.
Highlights of Sol-Ark’s warranty
- Sol-Ark provides a 5-year warranty for their 5K-2P and 8K-2P 2 phase hybrid inverters, a 10-year warranty for their 12K-2P and 15K-2P hybrid inverters, and will provide a 25-year warranty for their upcoming microinverters and power optimizers (both of which will include rapid shutdown).
- Sol-Ark covers shipping for warrantied equipment within the lower U.S. for the first six months to one year after installation, but doesn’t cover any necessary labor to re-install field replaceable parts.
- If you choose to install Sol-Ark equipment, you can expect premier customer service, making it easy to complete the warranty claim process.
Visit the EnergySage Marketplace to compare solar-plus-storage options from local installers.
Quick overview: Sol-Ark’s history and warranty
Founded in 2013 by a group of Veterans, Sol-Ark has quickly grown to be a top company in the solar and storage industry. They offer a wide array of flexible technology but have historically been known for their All in One hybrid battery string inverters. Excitingly, they’ll soon be launching a new microinverter product and power optimizers for those looking for module-level power electronics (MLPEs).
Sol-Ark offers an industry-standard warranty of 5-10 years for their string inverters (depending on the specific product) and will offer a 25-year warranty for their microinverters and power optimizers. They pride themselves on their top-notch customer service: they’re open seven days a week, from 7 am to 7 pm during the week and from 10 am to 4 pm on the weekends. Importantly, if you need to call Sol-Ark for support, you can expect to talk to an actual person instead of just an automated message.
Sol-Ark warranty at a glance
|Category||Sol-Ark coverage||Industry Standard|
|Product (inverter)||5 years (5K-2P, 8K-2P inverters)|
10 years (5K-1P, 12K-2P, 15K-2P inverters)
25 years (M-1000, M-2000 microinverters; available Oct 2022)
|10 years for string inverters, 25 years for microinverters|
|Product (power optimizer equipment – for string inverters only)||25 years (O-900 optimizer / monitoring / RSD; available Sept 2022)||25 years|
|Product (communication equipment)||5 years (5K-2P, 8K-2P inverters)|
10 years (5K-1P, 12K-2P, 15K-2P inverters, microinverters, optimizers)
|Shipping of parts||Yes, for the first six months to one year||Yes|
|Transferability||Yes, no transfer fee||Transfer fee|
|Extended warranty offering||Yes, up to 10 years for 8K-2P inverters, at a cost||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.
Sol-Ark offers one complete product warranty for its inverter technology. Sol-Ark’s 5K-2P and 8K-2P inverters are both covered for 5 years, while its 5K-1P, 12K-2P and 15K-2P warranty (for larger systems) is covered for 10 years. Their new microinverters (which will be available in Oct 2022) and power optimizers (which will be available in Sept 2022) will be covered for 25 years. Because the communications equipment is built into the inverter itself, it’s covered for the same amount of time as the inverters. Top solar panels typically include 25-year warranties, meaning you may need to replace your Sol-Ark string inverters over the lifetime of your solar system (though tests have indicated they can last beyond 20 years). However, Sol-Ark microinverters and power optimizers will be covered for the same amount of time as the panels that lie on top of them.
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, Sol-Ark may have a brand new product stock. Will they be able to replace your broken inverter?
Should this happen to you, Sol-Ark will send you newer equipment that’s equivalent or higher in power – free of charge (as long as it’s determined to be covered under warranty).
Does Sol-Ark 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.
Sol-Ark doesn’t offer an extended warranty for all of its inverters – but if you’re interested in the Sol-Ark 8K-2P inverter and are looking for a longer warranty, you’re in luck! You can extend the warranty for the 8K-2P inverters from 5 years to 10 years at a cost to provide you with a bit more peace of mind. And, even after the warranty period is up, Sol-Ark states that they only charge for the cost of repairs or will help you upgrade your equipment to their newest inverter technology.
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.
Sol-Ark does not currently offer a workmanship warranty to their customers.
How to make a warranty claim with Sol-Ark: shipping & labor costs
If you experience any defects or performance issues with your equipment, Sol-Ark 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, you can contact Sol-Ark directly. They’ll put you in touch with an installer in their network if it’s necessary to complete the repair or replacement.
Once Sol-Ark or the installer has identified any issue eligible for a warranty claim, they can begin the return merchandise authorization (RMA) process. Depending on the problem, your Sol-Ark installer may be able to diagnose the issue remotely and initiate the fix straight from their cell phone – in fact, Sol-Ark says they can debug almost every situation remotely! However, in a few circumstances, the installer will have to make a site visit in order to either identify or confirm what’s going on with your system.
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. Sol-Ark does not currently cover the labor associated with re-installing any repaired or replaced equipment. However, they do have strong relationships and work closely with a network of installers to help you through this process.
Shipping of parts
Similarly, not all equipment manufacturers will pay the costs to get equipment to you – but Sol-Ark isn’t one of them! As long as Sol-Ark determines that the repair or replacement parts are covered under warranty, in most cases they’ll cover the cost of shipping in the lower U.S. within the first six months to one year of installation. Distribution and repair centers are used for RMAs for other geographical areas and Sol-Ark is expanding locations quickly.
Comparing product and power warranty terms: the EnergySage Buyer’s Guide
What are some of the most popular Sol-Ark 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 Sol-Ark’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 Sol-Ark warranty:
- Damage as a result of accident or abuse, normal wear and tear, alteration or disassembly, or corrosion.
- Any damage from lightning, fire, floods, or acts of nature.
- Damage due to shipping or transportation unless Sol-Ark shipped the product to you, in which case they’ll happily replace it and file a claim.
- Your inverter won’t be covered if you’ve altered, defaced, or removed its serial number.
Other warranty considerations and how Sol-Ark stacks up
- Transferability: as long as your equipment remains in place, you can transfer your Sol-Ark warranties to new owners of your system at no cost.
- Bankability: Sol-Ark is a fast-growing company that’s managed cash flow quite well since its inception. Over the nine years that Sol-Ark has been in business, it’s grown about 300 percent each year (even without advertising or debt).
- Escrows/insurance policies: Sol-Ark does not have an insurance policy or escrow to ensure that they will uphold their warranties in the unlikely event that they go out of business. However, they keep a reserve stock of repaired inverters which should give you some extra peace of mind.
- Eligibility: some manufacturers require customers to permanently connect to their monitoring system in order for their warranty to be valid. Sol-Ark’s warranty is applicable regardless of connection to their monitoring platform.
- 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 Sol-Ark’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 have a preference for one type of equipment over another–Sol-Ark or otherwise–simply note it in your account when you sign up so installers can quote you accordingly.