Solar Panel Warranties: Everything You Need to Know
Warranty on solar panels is a great way to protect your panels from damage and degradation. Since a solar panel system is a costly investment, it pays off to protect your solar installation by purchasing (extended) warranties wherever possible and securing their optimal functionality. This will protect your initial investment, ensure more power is produced, and will give you free reparation and a replacement in case you need it.
A solar panel warranty is not only available for solar panels. Quite on the contrary, these warranties are available for all other pieces of equipment that ensure you can actually use the solar energy generated by your solar equipment – from inverters and charge controllers, all the way to the solar battery. As the performance of this solar equipment degrades over time, these warranties will secure their optimal performance for a specific duration. Let’s read on and learn more.
What are Solar Panel Warranties?
A solar panel warranty is a guarantee that the solar panel manufacturer gives to the customer. The guarantee relates to solar panel production output, reliability, and even more. A solar warranty offers a piece of mind and financial security to the customer, ensuring that your investment is protected even if a panel turns out to be faulty.
The warranty period differs significantly from one solar panel producer to the other. However, an average solar system will get a 20-year warranty, with some monocrystalline models reaching up to 25 years of solar panel warranty. This way, you know that the solar energy system will keep functioning at a minimum of 80% of generation capacity for the period stated in the warranty itself.
How Does it Work?
Solar panel warranties cover different aspects of your solar system. While some cover solar products only, there are also warranties that cover workmanship and the performance of the solar installation. Equipment warranties (aka equipment guarantees), are always combined with a year-on-year performance warranty. You should always take a solar warranty to avoid costly repairs over small issues, such as faulty wiring, or reduced total system output.
Average Solar Panel Warranty
Almost every solar panel manufacturer offers a standard warranty on their products. These warranties are industry-specific, mostly uniform, and will include the warranty period for its specific solar equipment. This type of warranty includes the solar panel performance warranty, solar panel product warranty, inverter warranty, and installation warranty.
You should understand that a solar equipment warranty is not issued by the solar panel manufacturer. As every solar panel system is comprised of multiple components, each made by a different manufacturer, you will be getting several warranties. Also, the installation warranty is not issued by the manufacturer itself, but rather by the solar installer – usually a local company you hire to do the installation for you.
Here are some details on the kinds of solar warranty you can get, the solar warranty period, and who issues it:
|Type of Solar Warranty||Warranty Length||Who Issues the Warranty|
|Solar Panel Performance Warranty||20 - 25 years||Solar Panel Manufacturers|
|Solar Panel Product Warranty||5 - 10 years (possible extension to 15 years)||Solar Panel Manufacturers|
|Microinverter Warranty||5 - 10 years||Solar Panel Manufacturers|
|Inverter Warranty||5 years (possible extension to 10 years)||Inverter Manufacturers|
|Installation Warranty||Up to 10 years||Solar installer|
Benefits of Solar Panel Warranties
Solar panel warranties will easily cover most of the damage that occurs on your solar panel system. Considering that these systems are very costly and somewhat fragile, it is necessary to protect them and yourself against any damage that may occur. In fact, warranties protect your wallet, as solar energy production will not be stalled because of factors outside of your control.
It is always possible to do a warranty transfer in case you are moving out and want to sell your existing solar panels. In this case, solar warranties can be transferred to the next homeowner, but you may need to do some extra work. Contact the solar panel seller and solar warranty issuer for more details, although, in most cases, the solar warranty will be transferable. This is in case you’ve purchased your solar panels.
However, if you have a solar lease or a solar PPA, the situation may be a bit different. In most cases, the contracts will be redrawn, and you will be able to transfer the rights to the next home and solar panels’ owner. However, if you’ve purchased your solar panels before the end of the lease period (solar buyout), the situation may be a bit different, and a bit more complicated. You will need to contact the solar leaser and find out the exact details, although most of them will be able to do the transfer with no issues and with very little time spent.
Solar Panel Performance Warranty
The performance warranty is a type of warranty that states that the production level of a solar panel will be at or above a baseline for production. This manufacturer’s warranty guarantees the power output for a specific period of time, usually 20-25 years. The performance guarantee is not the same as product warranties.
Over their lifetime, solar panels experience a normal decrease in their power output. A panel that loses some of its output is not a faulty panel – quite on the contrary, this is a normal decrease that can be seen even in high-end, industry-standard panels. Normally, the panels that manufacturers offer will produce energy at least 90% of their baseline power output for a period of 10 years, and 80% of the baseline output for a period of 20-25 years.
The latter case is mostly covered by the warranties, as every solar array degrades at a different speed, depending on the local conditions. Weather patterns and extreme temperatures can definitely influence the specified degradation percentage, but in most cases, you will be able to reach the warranty-specified solar panel’s life. Here is a breakdown:
- First 10 years of a panel’s operation – 90% of power output is preserved,
- Next 15 years of a panel’s operation – 80% of power output is preserved,
- Every subsequent year (after the 25-year mark) – the panels will keep producing electricity for many more years to come, although at a slowly declining rate each year.
With this in mind, there are two performance warranty types: linear and step warranty. The linear warranty is a type of performance warranty that specifies a specific annual loss, which is stated as a percentage of output loss that the panels can experience every year. Some of the leading manufacturers use this type of warranty.
Step warranty, on the other hand, is a different type of performance warranty. This type of performance warranty specifies the remaining output at the end of specific periods (therefore ‘steps’), usually after 10 and 25 years. Most panels will preserve 90% of their efficiency and power output at the end of the 10-year mark, and 90% at the end of the 25-year mark.
Solar Panel Product Warranty
Leading solar panel manufacturers can issue one more type of warranty – the solar panel product warranty. This warranty is also called:
- A solar panel lifespan warranty,
- A solar material warranty, or
- A solar panel equipment warranty.
This type of warranty covers the panels against premature damage, degradation, corrosion, and environmental issues, as opposed to a performance warranty which relates to the panel output. It is important to state that these warranties do not cover damage due to a higher force, war, vandalism, etc. These warranties are shorter, and usually cover 10-12 years of a panel’s lifetime, while some more high-end panels may come with a full 25-year warranty.
Manufacturer Warranties vs. Solar Installer Guarantees
Manufacturer warranties are different from solar installer guarantees. A manufacturer can issue a solar performance warranty and a solar product warranty (=solar equipment warranties). On the other hand, a solar installer guarantee refers to workmanship and is not the same as a performance and equipment guarantee.
Comparing Solar Panel Warranties
Whenever purchasing a solar system, always bear in mind that a good warranty means peace of mind for you and your finances. However, thanks to the fancy working and a lack of standards in the field, comparing solar panel warranties can be difficult to do. For this reason, here are a few things to consider when comparing solar panel warranties offered by different manufacturers:
- What does the installation warranty cover?
- How long is the warranty period?
- How quickly will the company respond if I need work done?
- Can the warranty be transferred to a new homeowner if I sell my house?
- Is the warranty an additional cost or included in the system price?
- Is there a limit on the number of warranty claims I can make?
- Who is responsible for each component of the system?
- Is there a replacement warranty for inverters?
- What kind of warranty do the components have?
- What happens if the system doesn’t produce the expected energy output?
- What if one of the manufacturers goes out of business?
Understanding your solar panel system warranty can help you make an informed decision about your purchase and protect your investment for years to come. So, don’t hesitate to ask these important questions when shopping for solar panels.
How to Make a Warranty Claim?
If you experience issues with your solar installations, you should first and foremost contact the manufacturer or the company that you have purchased your solar panels from. This way, you can make your claim, ask for an inspection on the site, and speak with a professional that should be able to help with your concerns. It is always important to use common sense when maintaining the panels, installing them, and operating them: stepping on them will, for example, void most warranties, and cause micro-cracks which can be detrimental to your solar installation performance, endangering your solar investment.
Things Not Covered by Solar Panel Warranties
You should be aware that solar warranties do not cover everything that could possibly happen with or to your soar system. Most solar panel manufacturers will provide warranties for a specific set of factors that could go wrong as a consequence of malpractice in the production process itself. However, there are also things that are not covered which could realistically happen to your solar PV system. Let’s consider things most manufacturers would not cover even with high-end solar PV systems:
- A guarantee of a specific amount of electricity being produced by the panels during their lifetime – as the total renewable energy produced would depend on solar production capacity at your specific site, solar panel orientation, tilt, and the weather conditions,
- The cost of labor in case of malfunctioning – as solar manufacturers are usually not involved in this process; still, a free replacement should give you peace of mind,
- Acts of Nature (Force Majeure) – any acts of nature that could damage the panels: lightning strikes (both direct and indirect), flooding, panel failure due to wind, fire, etc.
- Actual breakage, vandalism, war consequences, etc., and all other events that are outside of the control of the manufacturer.
Things that Can Void a Solar Panel Warranty
When using solar panels, it’s essential to adhere to the terms and conditions of your sales contract. Keep in mind that you might void your warranty if:
- You do installation or repair on your own – before doing any work on the panels, it is best to contact the seller company and check in with them. In most cases, it is best to have constant certified installers.
- To protect the warranty, a certified installer can do installation only.
- Solar panels should not be exposed to harsh chemicals, especially corrosive chemicals such as acids,
- No fixing on your system by unlicensed workers, as they could cause more damage,
- Not maintaining solar panels properly – regular maintenance is the key to their long life and it takes very little time to do.
- Any modification to the system must be reported and done by a professional – or you may void the warranty and lose the workmanship warranty.
- You hire a different company for repairs besides the original installer, especially if this is stated in the warranty itself.
- There may always be more factors that can void your workmanship warranty or even the performance guarantee – always read the warranty in detail, including the fine print.
To ensure you understand all the factors that could void your warranty, ask the sales rep from your solar installer for more information. This will help you protect your investment and increase your property’s value.
To further protect yourself, and to achieve maximum protection, you should always purchase homeowners insurance. Material defects and high shipping costs are not the only things that you should be protected against.
Do Solar Panels Need to be Cleaned?
Yes, solar panels need to be occasionally cleaned. This is especially true if there is a lot of debris, leaves, or dust in your area. Likewise, if you live in areas with high particulate matter content in the air (close to coal power plants or in areas with very heavy traffic), you may also want to clean them more often. On the other hand, if you live in an area with a lot of precipitation, you may not need to clean the panels at all, as the precipitation will do the work for you.
Can Solar Panels Last 50 Years?
Yes, solar panels can last for 50 years. It is important to note that they will lose some of their efficiency with every passing year, so that at the end of the 50-year period, you may experience a significant degradation in their output, to the point that you may need to replace them altogether. Solar Recycling, for example, purchases your old solar panels and repurposes them.
What Causes Solar Panels to Fail?
Solar panels may fail for a variety of reasons, including corrosion, microcracks, and exposure to chemicals. However, solar panels also normally lose around 0.5-1% of their power output per year. It is important to notice that this is a normal occurrence, as no device or appliance can last forever.
What Solar Panels have 25-year Warranty?
Most solar panels have a 20-25 year warranty. Only the high-end panels have a 25-year warranty and they are likely to outperform their 20-year warranty counterparts. With this in mind, it may be financially sane to contact your installation company and ask whether your panels are completely covered for the 25-year period. It is important to note that only panels that are installed correctly and by a certified installer will be covered by the manufacturer’s product warranty for the entire 25 years.
Installing a solar system array and sparing no dime when it comes to labor costs is a great way to reduce your energy dependence on the utility company while ensuring maximum energy production and an always-applicable warranty. Solar panels are typically covered for a period of 10-15 years, while their performance is covered for longer: 20-25 years. In any case, knowing how to protect your panels and ensure your solar investment can pay off in a reasonable time, with very few issues is crucial, as this is a long-term investment.