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August 8, 2023

Honest Intelligent solar repairer with all the equipment to detect and analyse the faults

Powerix aims to give the best service to our customers we can. We use the latest equipment to ensure we do the job right the first time. Below is an extensive review from one of our very happy customers. Not only are we proud of how happy our client is, but it also covers some key issues with the solar industry overall and answers many questions we typically get asked.

Honest Intelligent solar repairer with all the equipment to detect and analyse the faults

As the Australian solar industry has been operating for a couple of decades, many of the systems are now decaying and failing across Australia's rooftops. This represents a fire hazard posed by the shorting of high voltage DC. Look up high voltage DC arcing on YouTube – it is eye watering stuff. Many solar systems are now catching fire - especially at the DC Isolators. The old solar systems are also becoming an expensive fix due to failing components.

The Solar industry is corrupt and incompetent. Most Solar systems are not designed for maintenance or repairs. They are like modern TV sets - you replace them but never fix them. Many electricians are just sales people acting for the parent solar company that is only interested in selling you a new system. Most electricians do not have the necessary equipment to analyse the strings of solar panels on the roof to find the exact fault. They often limit their service to opening up the DC isolators, checking connections at the electrical box or selling you a new inverter.

The "Failed inverter" may not be the total story. Ask any electrician what the most likely cause of your failed Solar system is - the answer is always The Inverter. This is irrespective of whether you forked out $2500 for the German one or $1000 for the Chinese one. They make their money selling you a new inverter. Yes, they also make more money selling you a whole new system, but most people will baulk at that, after spending $10000 on the first one that only lasted 5 years. So they focus on the Inverter to open up your wallet and then incrementally ratchet up the bill as they later concede that it was something else. And yes Inverters can fail after few years. However, a quick Google search will reveal that the most common faults in failed solar systems are poor earthing problems somewhere in the system. Inverters are highly sensitive devices and reject poor DC signals coming in - before being converted to AC. That poor DC electrical signal is the result of many possible sources: bad connectors, poor corroded or water damaged solar panels, water damage in the DC isolators due to poor silicon seals or incorrect or upside down installation, or other earthing faults. Any or all of these UPSTREAM faults will give the dreaded RED LIGHT of failure on the Inverter. There may be nothing wrong with the inverter at all - it's just telling you that there is a problem in the system and that it refuses to convert the bad DC signal to AC. Or it could be the Inverter AND other problems in the system. Some Inverters reset (for a while) especially if there has been water in the system after heavy rain and after you give it time to dry out. Many inverters fail slowly from internal components and will continue to fail more frequently over time. And (yes) sometimes it is simply that damned expensive unreliable INVERTER that has failed with no other problems in the system. Good luck with Inverter or Panel warranties. If you read the contract, many will say that you have 10 years warranty "On Installation" only.

The solar system is not designed to be fixed. All it takes is for one dodgy component to play up and the whole solar system will fail. If one panel fails, the whole string of (10 say) panels will fail. Therefore the inverter will fail even though the other string of 10 panels on a 5KW system might be perfect. So, there may be 19 other panels working just fine but a big RED light on your inverter. Now, how do you find which panel has failed on that 2 storey steep slippery roof on a cloudy day with the wind blowing at 30 kmph. It’s ridiculous that they sell a product that was never designed to be rectified or maintained. Look at the roofs and installations of many solar systems. Many roofs are steep and complex - requiring a lot of safety gear to operate on. Sure, they will don all the gear for a $10000 installation. But do you really think that the average electrician will don all that gear to find a bad connector somewhere in the myriad of connections and wiring. Most electricians don’t even have the gear to do the analysis. Analysers are expensive stuff with the good analysers costing $20000. Each time they fiddle with a connector or component that has been sitting up there in the sun deteriorating, they risk breaking the part, just to have a look at it. The Solar industry is like buying a car and then having to replace the entire car when the battery dies. The car won’t start but they don’t want to analyse anything and just tell you it needs a new engine (the inverter equivalent) or replacement of the whole car.

In my case, after 3 years from solar installation, I noticed the RED Fault light on the Inverter. I rang the supplier and discovered that the slick salesman was now rude and obnoxious. He wanted nothing to do with fixing the problem. He said I was stupid and incapable of doing the reset written on the Inverter - even though I had done this correctly. He said he didn’t know how I could possibly carry out my day job since I was incapable of following instructions on the inverter panel. He was a real piece of work. I rang a local electrician and he discovered that a rat or possum had chewed through an electrical cable that went to a bedroom under the house. The solar system had been incorrectly installed and earthed to that very circuit of my main electrical board - what's the chance. That 10 minute repair cost $200 but at least they found the problem and at least it wasn't a failure of the Solar system - but it did highlight poor installation. The electrician "educated me" that, from his experience, most solar faults were from INVERTER Failures irrespective of BRAND or AGE. I later researched online that earthing faults were the main issue but they were more time consuming and more difficult to analyse.

Then after 9 years from purchase, I started getting the RED Fail light on the Inverter that would only reset occasionally. I tried hundreds of combinations of RESETS at different times of day, during rain, and on sunny days - I tried everything. I researched all of those annoying Inverter FAULT CODES and watched hours of YouTube videos from Solar repair guys. I learned that although Inverters often fail, the main cause of system problems was earthing problems due to system corrosion and deterioration. However, after a few months of accepting that my system was dead, I noticed that if there was a blackout in the street, the system would magically come back to life. After a blackout, my system would work all day and at the correct output without any reset by me. But then, the next day it would not reset - despite powering down my whole house in a vain attempt to replicate the blackout and nullify any earthing problems. I was reluctant to deduce it was an inverter failure because it worked all day at the expected output– when it worked. However, Inverters do partially fail and some fault codes are indications of the inverter being “on its way out”.

The solar industry is rife with dishonest and incompetent tradies. I had one company (Contractor 1) come out to my house and spend 10 minutes accessing the system. The young electrician merely opened up the DC Isolators but did no Megger analysis of the system to detect earthing problems - despite repeated requests from me to do so. He said the system was old and damaged and then quickly switched into sales rep mode for buying a whole new $10000. I paid the expensive fee but was very disgruntled with the incompetent and flippant service. I mean, I knew it was broken before he turned up, and all he did was say "yep it's broken". So, what did I pay for? How is that different to getting a free quote for a new solar system. Then I tried several electricians who didn't return the calls. Then I called Contractor 2 in Wollongong who charged me $hundreds to come out and take a picture of my electrical box and told me I had to replace all the wiring in the solar system. Then he never came back to fix anything after he got his payment based on him coming back to fix it. He would not even return emails. He just did a runner with my money. But to really rub it in, he sent me a voucher that said I had a 1 POINT voucher towards a holiday in some useless holiday rewards system. There were a lot of expletives coming from my mouth when I opened up that mail in utter disbelief. So, no fix to the solar but 1 point towards some infuriating holiday scam. You can't make this stuff up.

So, I tried to find an honest electrician in Wollongong without any luck. $400 was wasted on paying callout fees to useless immoral electricians who were on the job for 10 minutes, then never came back to fix anything - or only tried to sell me a new $10000 solar system.

Some solar electricians have worked out that it is simply easier to make money from turning up and saying "yep it's broken, that will be $250", rather than the inconvenience of rectifying anything. That is if you can get one to return your calls or even turn up. Imagine taking your car the mechanic and at the end of the day he says “yep it needs repair, that will be $250” without even opening the bonnet. So why is that immoral practice acceptable in some parts of the electrical trade? And yes I understand the idea of the call out fee, but the moral contract built into that fee is the agreement that there will be an attempt to actually do work and fix something.

So just when I had given up hope, I made a random and final search online for a solar repairer in Sydney. I came across POWERIX in Cronulla. They were very professional and patient in finding the cause of the problem. The electrician was tenacious in his analysis and always kept me informed of his progress every 30 minutes or so. The electrician owned an expensive Megger analyser that helped with the detection. In the end, the resolution came from tenacious deduction and problem solving beyond the limits of the equipment. The problem was multi-faceted: component failure in one string of panels and an inverter that was failing randomly and repeatedly. It took hours to come to this conclusion with lots of component isolation work and covering up panels on sunny days to work out which panel had failed. So (yes) in the end, it was my inverter that had failed, but replacing the inverter without fixing the upstream problems would not have worked and would have been an expensive mistake. He was a credit to the company and a great ambassador for the concept of the "honest tradie". He was an intelligent guy with a calm analytical manner. He communicated well and showed both humour and empathy with the problem. Powerix is a breath of fresh air in a highly corrupt and inept solar industry.

You can read the original review here: https://www.productreview.com.au/listings/powerix