The Importance of Warranties
When shopping for a low voltage variable frequency drive (VFD) it is important to look at the warranty on each option you consider. You may hope to never need the warranty, but warranties are great when there is a defect and they can help you get the equipment either repaired or replaced.
There are steps you can take to optimize your chance of a warranty covering any issues that arise. While we won’t take an in-depth look at the fine print of warranties, it may be helpful if we point out a few of the biggest considerations and mistakes we see at VFDs.com that cause VFDs to be rejected in a warranty evaluation.
Commissioning and Preventative Maintenance
After you purchase your VFD and it arrives, you might find that your warranty depends on who is doing the initial startup or commissioning on your drive. Some brands will not honor a warranty unless you use one of their factory-certified technicians to do the initial setup, while others will still offer a warranty but also offer to extend your warranty if you will agree to use their technicians. Some brands will honor the warranty no matter who started it up, as long as it was done correctly.
In a similar area, some manufacturers will require that you are doing annual or semi-annual maintenance on the inverter to prevent major malfunctions, sometimes from their technicians and sometimes just from someone qualified. Make sure that you are aware of these requirements and correctly document the commissioning and preventative maintenance services to make any future warranty claim go much smoother.
Warranty Start Date
Common warranty periods for new VFDs range from 1-2 years, although it is possible to find 3- or 5-year warranties. One issue that often complicates a warranty claim is whether the warranty is still active. Make sure to review the warranty on a VFD you are considering purchasing to make sure the warranty runs long enough for you.
Warranties can begin on date of manufacture, date of shipment, date of installation, or some combination of these. For example, a warranty might expire one year from startup or 18 months from shipment, whichever comes first.
Knowing when your warranty started, as well as how long it runs for, can inform when you get your drive in for warranty evaluation. While there are times when a complete VFD failure means it needs to be evaluated immediately, if your drive is able to continue functioning, you may want to make sure you pull it out of service soon enough to fit in the warranty window.
Although less common, we have seen some warranties rejected for not following the correct procedure. As soon as you realize there is an issue that might fall under warranty, contact either the seller of the VFD or the manufacturer to see how to handle it. They may want to do some troubleshooting before it is removed from the system.
It’s also not uncommon that the manufacturer wants you to send it to an authorized distributor for an initial inspection before sending it to them, while others want to evaluate every VFD themselves. Make sure you clarify the process so something as simple as sending it to the wrong place doesn’t delay the inspection past your warranty window.
Condition of the VFD
While the issues we have mentioned up to this are definitely major considerations for warranty, the biggest issue we see has nothing to do with the manufacturer you bought it from. How you treat the VFD after you’ve received it is the number one reason that warranty claims are rejected across the board.
VFDs need to be kept cool, clean, and dry. As soon as an inspection turns up moisture, dirt, grime, or dust inside the VFD, the warranty will usually be rejected. If there is a crack in the casing, that can often indicate that the VFD was dropped or hit. Anything like these issues give a manufacturer a reasonable suspicion that the failure was not related to a defect but to your treatment of the VFD, and you will be left with no warranty help.
While we hope that you never need to utilize the warranty on your VFD, it never hurts to be prepared. The steps we have outlined above will give you the best chance of getting your drive through a warranty process quickly and easily. Not only that, but these steps will help to prolong the life of your VFD even if a warranty issue never arises. If you have any questions about warranties or VFDs, feel free to contact us and we will help to get them answered.
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