When considering the purchase of a solar energy system, one of the most important factors to take into account is the warranty provided.
Manufacturer warranties offer financial protection in case of faulty solar equipment or performance issues. Researching these warranties can be overwhelming and time-consuming.
But don’t worry, we are here to simplify things for you. Here’s everything you need to know about solar panel warranties.
Definition of solar panel warranty
A solar panel warranty is a guarantee provided by a company or manufacturer to the customer. It ensures coverage for their products and the expected level of performance.
Reputable solar panel manufacturers typically offer two types of warranties: a product warranty and a performance warranty. The product warranty covers any manufacturing defects, while the performance warranty guarantees a certain level of performance for your panels.
A product warranty, also referred to as an equipment or materials warranty, provides protection against defects in solar equipment that may arise from manufacturing errors or poor material quality.
Typically lasting for 10 to 15 years, standard product warranties are now being extended to 20 or 25 years for premium panels.
While uncommon, equipment malfunctions are possible. Product warranties generally cover the cost of repair or replacement if the issue is attributed to the manufacturer.
For instance, if a homeowner notices a malfunctioning panel after installation, the manufacturer will cover the costs of rectifying it. Since solar systems can be expensive, having coverage against faulty panels is an added benefit.
Fortunately, the majority of solar panel manufacturers offer product warranties, providing peace of mind.
It’s important to note that product warranties do not cover installation workmanship. They solely address issues arising during manufacturing. Additional warranties cover problems resulting from the installation process.
On the other hand, performance warranties ensure a certain percentage of electric power output for a specified warranty period, typically lasting 25 years.
Solar panel output gradually declines over time, a natural phenomenon known as degradation. It’s advisable to review the panel’s specification sheet or warranty terms for precise details.
Generally, a typical solar panel performance warranty guarantees that the panel’s power output will not drop by more than 2% in the first year and no more than 0.5% annually thereafter for the remainder of the warranty period.
Degradation rates vary among manufacturers, and lower rates are desirable. It’s recommended to select panels with a degradation rate of 0.5% or lower, ensuring higher energy production throughout its lifespan.
Keep in mind that a solar panel not functioning at its maximum wattage doesn’t necessarily indicate damage. The performance warranty for solar panels is determined by their operation under Standard Test Conditions. So, there’s no need to worry if you notice slight underperformance initially.
Why you need to buy solar panel warranties
Solar panel warranties play a crucial role in ensuring the quality and reliability of the product. Manufacturers provide longer warranties for higher-quality panels.
While solar panel failures are uncommon, it’s still possible for errors to occur. Warranties provide homeowners with peace of mind, guaranteeing that their investment is of top-notch quality and free from any defects.
In the event of any issues, having a warranty for your solar panels is highly beneficial. It offers reassurance that there’s a potential solution available should any problems arise. It should be noted, however, that the process of testing panels to identify manufacturing defects can be time-consuming.
Some manufacturers go beyond product and performance warranties by providing additional protection for installation and labor. These extended warranties are usually offered by manufacturers with certified installer programs, such as REC and SunPower.
Where you should shop to find the best warranties
The best solar warranty providers in the United States include Sunpower, Panasonic, Silfab Solar, REC Group, and Qcells. Check out this article from SolarReviews for more details.
Here are some important considerations to remember when searching for a good warranty:
– It’s preferable to have a lower degradation rate on your panels.
– While standard product warranties typically last 10–15 years, premium panels can offer warranties of up to 20–25 years.
– Standard performance warranties generally last 25 years, but some can extend up to 30 years.
– Higher-quality solar panels often come with better warranty terms.
Reputable solar installers typically offer panels with exceptional warranties that exceed industry standards.