Just like many households with solar panels in the Netherlands we have the Mastervolt () Soladin 600 () grid tied solar inverter. In most respects a fine device, although with quite a low efficiency. The oldest of the pair we have has been doing its job without any problems for nearly five years now. The youngest of the two is nearly three years old and has likewise never given any problems.
Today I read that Mastervolt recalls a number of inverters of the types Soladin 600 and Windmaster 500/Soladin Wind 500, produced between May 2006 and September 2008. The web page (//) which Mastervolt has put online especially for this says “These inverters include a component that does not meet the applicable requirements. Under certain circumstances, this component can fail and its temperature may rise to an unacceptable level. It can not be excluded that this ultimately leads to a safety issue (risk of fire). Mastervolt considers the safety of its customers as top priority. Therefore Mastervolt decided to replace the inverters with this malfunction as soon as possible, free of charge.”
That sounds quite serious, to be hounest. I’m going to check the serial numbers of our two inverters tonight. Unfortunately the website seems to have technical problems, many people indicate they can’t visit the site. Here is a screenshot (in Dutch, but the site seems solid now, so that’s not important anymore) of the with the serial numbers of the affected inverters:
I’m very curious to see how Mastervolt will tackle the recall. The oldest Soladin 600 was replaced directly after I bought it because it had a very noisy cooling fan. Mastervolt did that extremely customer-friendly; I only had to send back the bad one after I received the new one. I secretly hoped they would do it the same way because despite is being the middle of the winter, with low production, each missed kWh because the inverteres are switched off feels bad.
I’ll update this article as soon as I’ve checked the serial numbers of our inverters.
We’re lucky: both our Soladin 600 inverters do not have to be replaced. I heard from other people whose inverter has to be replaced that Mastervolt has set as condition for a free replacement that the inverter is switched off immediately. I have no idea how long it will take before a replacement inverter arrives, but I expect it to take a week or two. I did hear from other people whose inverter has to be replaced that Mastervolt stipulated that the inverter has to be disconnected immediately in order to get a free replacement. Even in a winter month like January it’s a shame that there’ll be some loss of production – and I don’t expect Mastervolt to reimburse me for that loss.
Everyone makes mistakes and I’m no exception. I made the mistake of comparing the serial numbers of our inverters with a non-original table which some one had copied to his website from the Mastervolt website. Unfortunately, this table proved to be incorrect. Both our inverters’ serial numbers start with U6 and that means that they do have to be replaced. I’ll phone Mastervolt tomorrow to ask how long they expect the replacement to take because when I disconnect our two Soladins it means that 50% of our solar installation is out of commission. With regard to production it’s even worse: the solar panels that are attached to the Soladins are the batter placed ones, so the production loss will be much more than 50%.
I do feel quite bad about this. Not only because of the loss of production, because that won’t be too bad at this time of the year. But all this does mean that there have been two devices in our attic which were at risk of burning the house down. It’s very good that Mastervolt takes decisive action, but I don’t want to contemplate what would have happened of one or both of the inverters would have caught fire.
-update 3- (January 10th, 2011)
I took down both inverters while waiting for the replacement. Unfortunately yesterday was a crisp day with lots of sun. I estimate that the missing Soladins would have produced more than a kWh, more than half the day production. If January gets more sunny days the loss in production might become substantial. I’m keeping records and I might give Mastervolt a call about compensation.
I’ve been told that Philips had to recall a certain type of inverter some time ago, and they compensated the owners for the loss in production. Mastervolt has said nothing about it, so I don’t think they will, but who knows?