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The value of field serviceability


12/22/2021 / USA
 An installation crew can install a PV solar system within a day, but the Operations & Maintenance (O&M) phase lasts 20 years and more. When customers invest in a PV system, they expect 20 years of reliable energy production and a minimum of service and maintenance while generating a solid return on their investment. Thus, the solar energy installer needs to sell and install systems and correctly manage them over decades.
Field serviceability saves you time and money.
Photovoltaic plant powered by Fronius in Parsdorf

Proper O&M plans ensure reliable operation, low maintenance costs, and performance over 20+ years. A significant factor in every O&M plan is the field serviceability of the equipment. Field services refer to any service and repair conducted at a customer site where the equipment is installed. When talking about field-serviceability in solar, the serviceability of solar inverters describes to which extent a technician can repair them on-site instead of exchanging an entire inverter.

The significant advantage of field serviceability is a reduction of truck rolls.

Basically, by repairing an inverter within one truck roll, you can cut the number of truck rolls in half. Because you can troubleshoot and fix the system within one truck roll, there is no need to return with an exchange unit. By having spare part kits on your truck, you avoid wait times for parts or exchange units. Especially in times of supply chain disruptions and shortages, this provides a significant benefit.

The cost for one truck roll is $250 or more for transportation and hours alone.
Let's assume an installation company installing 20 residential systems per month and an annual business growth rate of 5%. The typical failure rate of power electronics is 2%. When using a field-serviceable inverter instead of module-level power electronics (typically not field-serviceable), the O&M cost savings accumulate to over $1.1 million over 25 years. That amount of money can make a tremendous difference to installer businesses.

On top of the cost savings, field serviceability also helps delight your customers as they prefer to have fewer visits from a technician and less downtime of their system. Instead of losing production while waiting for the exchange unit, the system produces again after the first visit.

Even better than one truck-roll is no truck-roll.
Remote software updates might fix some problems and eliminate the need for a truck roll. With inverter software becoming increasingly powerful, many more options for remote troubleshooting and remote service are also available.  

When choosing an inverter, make sure to assess the field serviceability of the equipment and the O&M programs provided by the manufacturers, which ideally empower you to conduct proactive service and field repairs profitably.  


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