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Customer Support


Overview

Types of Support

With every additional system we install the number of people who might require support grows. Fortunately Solar Designs always put a strong emphasis on quality components and workmanship, product failures are rare. As a result, after the first initial questions are answered, not much support is required.

Initial questions often are very easily answered, like "Is my inverter broken, all lights are off?" (most models have a night shut-down) or "Why is power production now so much lower than when the system was installed 3 months ago" (seasonal variation from early January to later March).

Questions that come later might be about build-up of dust: We recommend to wait for the next rainy day to solve that issue, but if customers don't want to wait they can hose down panels from the ground, please do that in the cold time of the day to avoid temperature stress. We don't suggest to go up on the roof to clean panels, wet roofs are slippery and dangerous!.

Then of course there are the occasional problems with hardware components. Mostly with inverters. Some brands (SMA) perform much better than others, but eventually every man made thing will break down and needs replacing. Ideally panels should last 30 years and inverters about 20 and most items of the top brands we supplied should actually get there. But if you are unlucky enough to be someone with a problem device then the rest of this page is written for you.


Rights of customers and voluntary support

Most systems installed by Solar Designs came with a 1 year warranty for workmanship. Workmanship is the installation of the system and the quality of its design.

The main components are all covered by long manufacturers warranties. Those manufacturers warranties vary depending on brand. Please check the details in your 'owners manual'. In many cases if there is a valid warranty claim the manufacturer or importer will supply a replacement unit at their cost. But usually the manufacturer/importer will not cover the cost of installing the replacement unit.

In case something goes wrong Solar Designs will help you diagnose the issue and liaise with the manufacturer on your behalf. We can also organise electricians where required to exchange faulty parts. That is a voluntary service, we provide it because we are committed to customer service and want all systems that were installed by us to run as smoothly as possible for many years to come.

When an electrician is required to exchange parts and the manufacturer does not cover the cost for call-out/labour the customer has to pay for those expenses. The only exception is during the period of our workmanship warranty (usually 1 year from installation). While faulty components are not strictly speaking related to our workmanship we have provided this extra service in the past and will continue to do so.


Solar Designs in Maintenance Mode

As you may know Solar Designs does not install any new systems. We are however committed to provide service to all our existing customers, both under our warranty obligations as well as voluntarily above an beyond those duties, as outlined in the previous paragraph.

The main change is that we would like to handle as many enquiries as possible via email rather than over the phone. If you now read this message you obviously have Internet access, in that case please respect our request.

Solving issues via email will be just as quick, if you reach us on a mobile out and about we won't have the inverter manuals to check error messages, we won't have serial numbers to organise exchanges with manufacturers. Those important pieces of information all are stored on our computer - where we also check emails very regularly.

In case you can not reach us you can of course contact the manufacturers/importers. Some will deal with you directly, others might put you in touch with their local service agents. The rest of this page will give you the contact details.



Inverters

SMA

So far all SMA inverters we installed (well over 100) are still happily doing their duty, but at some point in future that is bound change.

SMA gives a 5 year warranty on all inverters. Some units have an extended warranty to give a total of 10 years, if yours is one of those you will have a special warranty certificate with the serial number of your inverter.

SMA has a service centre in Australia. Their contact details:

SMA Australia Pty Ltd
Suite 106,
30-40 Harcourt Parade
Rosebery, NSW 2018
Australia

Tel. +61 2 9669 2889
Fax +61 2 9669 2887
Freecall 1800 SMA AUS

info@SMA-Australia.com.au
www.SMA-Australia.com.au

Kaco

Second in terms of numbers installed by Solar Designs and with the occasional defect also second in terms of reliability are Kaco inverters.

All Kaco inverters sold by Solar Designs came with a 7 year factory warranty from the date of installation.

Kaco does not currently have a subsidiary in Australia. That means that warranty repairs and replacements are handled through the importer, SolarMatrix.

As with issues with other brands Solar Designs is happy to organise a warranty claim in case of problems. At the moment Kaco does not pay for the cost of electrical work required to remove the defective inverter and install the replacement, meaning that the customer has to pay for this service.

While Kaco does not have an Australian subsidiary they have a very good technical support that can be contacted via phone or email. Contact details are shown on their website.


Fronius & Conergy

The Conergy branded inverters are actually made by Fronius. Since Fronius recently opened a service centre in Australia it is probably quicker to handle any warranty claims through them.

The models compare as follows:
Conergy WR1700 = Fronius IG15
Conergy WR2300 = Fronius IG20
Conergy WR3300 = Fronius IG30

Fronius inverters have had a few defects. The most common symptom we have encountered is that the display shows 'State 443'. If your inverter shows that message please switch off the AC supply to the inverter in your switchboard (labelled "Solar Supply Main Switch"), then switch of the DC supply in the isolation enclosure located below or next to the inverter. Wait for a few minutes, then switch the supplies back on, DC first then AC. If the inverter shows 'State 443' again once it has restarted is most likely needs a repair.

Since Fronius opened their Melbourne subsidiary the warranty service has improved a lot. When notified of a defect they usually ship a replacement device within 24 hours, arriving in Perth in less than 1 week. Fronius also pays a lump sum amount that usually covers the cost of the electrician who replaces the inverter.

Their contact details are:

Fronius Australia Pty Ltd
90-92 Lambeck Drive
Tullamarine VIC 3043
Australia

Tel. +61 (0) 3 8340 2900
Fax. +61 (0) 3 8340 2909


If you can't reach Solar Designs to organise a warranty repair/replacement on your behalf Fronius should be able to put you in contact with one of their local service partners.


Solar Panels

SunPower

SunPower were our most popular panels in 2008 and 2009. They were one of the first brands to offer a 10 year product warranty (materials and workmanship) in addition to the quite common 25 year power warranty (output).

SunPower panels were sold to us by long established wholesaler SolarSales, which soon was taken over and became the Australian subsidiary of the manufacturer, now known as SunPower Corporation Australia Pty Ltd.

Their contact details are:

SunPower Corporation Australia Pty Ltd
16 Belgravia Street
Belmont Western Australia 6104
Tel: 1 800 SUNPOWER, 1 800 786 769
Fax: +61 (08) 94775899
or on the web: www.sunpowercorp.com.au/


SunTech

SunTech are currently the biggest panel manufacturer in the world. Of all the Chinese brands it is arguably the most reputable. Their panels have a 5 year product warranty and the usual 25 year power warranty. We sold significant quantities of them since they were outstanding value for money in 2008 and early 2010.

With the great value for money came shortages in supply, SunTech could not make their panels fast enough to keep up with demand. As a result Solar Designs purchased SunTech panels from several different wholesalers. If you have any issues with your panels and need to know please ask us and we can look up which panel was supplied by who.

SunTech also has an Australian subsidiary with the following contact details:

Suntech Australia
82-86 Bay Street
Botany NSW 2019, Australia
Tel: +61 (2) 9695 8180
Fax: +61 (2) 9316 5270


For customer service they give the following (overseas) details:

Asia/Pacific, Middle East, and Africa Customer Service
Tel: +86-400-8888-009
Fax: +86-510-8534-3321


SolarWorld

SolarWorld is a major German PV company, with most panels sold here in Australia assembled in South Korea. We started selling them in 2010 when they became a great value for money product. Their product warranty is 5 years, their performance guarantee 25 years.

SolarWorld panels are imported into Australia by SolarMatrix.


Bosch

Bosch is a well known German company, active in a variety of areas. Their solar panels are imported by SolarMatrix. All the panels we supplied came from Bosch's German manufacturing plant. The high quality of the Bosch products is backed up by the manufacturer through a 10 year product warranty and a 25 year performance warranty.


Webel

Webel panels have a 2 year manufacturers warranty on materials and workmanship as well as a 25 year warranty on output. SunGrid, the wholesaler/importer has extended the product warranty to 5 years.


Wholesalers

According to the Trade Practices Act 1974 (now renamed the Competition and Consumer Act 2010), the responsibility that a product is of 'merchantable quality' lies with the manufacturer. In case the manufacturer does not have a representative in Australia the importer will be liable.

Solar Designs did not import any inverters or panels, we bought from local wholesalers who in turn were the importers. While we encourage our customers to use Solar Designs as a go between in case of any problems with the products we supplied, ultimately the buck stops with those wholesalers (some of which are the Australian subsidiary of the manufacturer). Their contact details are given below.

SolarMatrix

SolarMatrix is an importer of top quality German brand name PV components. Many of the SMA inverters and all Kaco inverters and Bosch and SolarWorld panels supplied by Solar Designs were sourced through them.

As a wholesaler they don't usually deal with end customers. But in the unlikely case that you don't get a timely reply from Solar Designs to a warranty issue involving Kaco, Bosch or SolarWorld you can try contacting them (beware, they are very busy most of the time, please only approach them in case of an genuine warranty problem with one of those specific brands and give them a few days to get back to you).

Their contact details are:

Solarmatrix Pty Ltd
6/4 Whyalla Street
Willetton
Western Australia 6155

Phone: +61 8 9457 4341
Fax: +61 8 9354 9479
Website: www.solarmatrix.com.au


SunGrid

SunGrid started as an importer/wholesaler of good value solar panels and inverters. They soon moved on to supply their own range of SunGrid branded panels. SunGrid supplied SolarDesigns in 2008 with Webel panels and with SunTech panels.

As a wholesaler/importer they don't usually deal with end customers. But in the unlikely case that you don't get a timely reply from Solar Designs to a warranty issue involving Webel panels you can try contacting them.

Their contact details are:

SunGrid Pty Ltd
Level 1, 4 Bannister Street
Fremantle WA 6160


Postal address:

Post Office Box 321
Fremantle WA 6959

Tel: +61 8 9430 5179
Fax: +61 8 9433 2858
Website: www.sungridsolar.com.au





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