Why Do Solar Inverters Fail?
The top 4 things that cause inverter failure
The electro-mechanical wear on condensers is the first cause of inverter failure. Inverters rely on condensers to provide a smooth power output at varying current levels; however, electrolyte condensers have a shorter lifetime and age faster than dry components. That can be a cause of inverter failure in itself.
The capacitors are also highly sensitive to temperature. Temperatures above the specified operating temperature, often caused by high current, can reduce the component’s durability. However, as the electrolytes evaporate more quickly at higher temperatures, the life of the condenser decreases when operated at lower operating temperatures.
Happily, keeping a consistent maintenance regime and regularly replacing capacitors avoids most problems that failed capacitors can cause.
Using inverters past their operating limit, either by choice or owing to negligence or lack of awareness, may lead to the failure of the inverter bridge. Using any device that is higher than its operating limit will decrease its lifetime and result in failure, so avoiding this problem would simply result in ensuring that all inverters are running properly.
Over- and under-voltage
The next two problems that can trigger a failure of the inverter are overcurrent and overvoltage. If either current or voltage rises to a point not rated for by the inverter, this can cause damage to the device’s components, most often the inverter bridge. Sometimes the excess heat produced by the voltage or current spike can cause the harm.
Over-current can be stopped with fuses or circuit breakers but it can be difficult to prevent over-voltage. Tension spikes are often man-made, but they can also be triggered by lightning or solar flares which are difficult to stop if you live on planet Earth like us.
The final problem on the list is one that leads to the mechanical stress that an inverter brings. Ultrasonic vibrations originating in the inductive component cores cause friction, contributing to the device’s excessive heat, and further damaging components in the inverter. Maintenance is the key as with any electrical equipment, and must not be ignored. Electrical links tend to fall out or corrode over time. If the inverter is still working, a repair manager can be tempted to simply ignore these wear and tear signs.
Nonetheless, as the saying goes, it is safer to be safe than sorry, so it is important that the terminals in the battery case, fuses and inverter links are washed at least once every six months. In addition, the cleaning process needs to be carried out properly, or it may end up causing more harm than good. Ideally, a brush wire and dissolvent grease agent should be used. A protective sealant must also be used on all battery terminals until the cleaning and maintenance is complete.
Remove grease-based coatings when determining which protective coating to use, as they continue to attract pollutants such as dust, leading to the increased decline of the connections, while also shielding the deterioration from further visual inspections. While proper installation and maintenance will dramatically extend the lifetime of the inverters, there are a few routes you will take when failure happens. Particularly for older or outdated models, the purchasing of a refurbished component may be worth considering.
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