Solar panel warranty: How to protect your investment
Solar systems are a reliable way to produce electricity. There are no moving parts in a solar panel – they just soak up the sun’s rays for 25 years or more.
But what if something goes wrong? That’s where a solar panel warranty comes in.
There are several different kinds of warranties that customers should be aware of in the solar industry. Manufacturers have their own warranties that ensure customers can be confident in the quality of their products. And installers generally have some kind of workmanship guarantee that covers their installation practices.
In this blog, we’ll discuss what goes into a solar panel warranty.
Solar panels often come with two kinds of warranties from the manufacturer. One guarantees the product will be free from physical defects. The other warranty details how much the panel’s power output will degrade over time and guarantees that it won’t dip below a certain percentage of its rated output.
The product warranty usually lasts about a decade and the performance warranty goes for 25 years.
Most of the time, these manufacturer warranties do not cover the labor cost of reinstalling the panel. Instead, they cover the equipment itself.
But proving that a solar panel is underproducing may require some legwork. Jinko, for instance, requires the customer to provide the company with information about the alleged warranty breach, including photos and data. The company reserves the right to use an independent testing lab to confirm whether a panel is underperforming.
There are exemptions to solar panel warranties, and most of them “revolve around how the solar panels were installed,” according to Panasonic. That could include damage caused by improper installation and alterations made by the installer.
That’s another reason why it’s important to hire a qualified solar installer. And it might not be a bad idea to read the fine print of your solar panel warranty to find out what is and is not covered.
Like I mentioned above, solar panels are resilient devices. They’re meant to be subjected to the elements for decades and keep producing power.
But if some kind of defect rears its ugly head, it should be covered under this warranty.
According to EnergySage, these kinds of issues are normally discovered “out of the box,” so the issue can be resolved immediately upon installation.
While EnergySage says the industry standard on these types of warranties is 10 years, some higher quality panels offer longer warranty periods.
Though solar panels contain no moving parts, they do lose some of their power over time. It’s not all that different from other electronic devices that see their battery life shrink or their processors slow down.
But solar panels are tested to withstand the elements, so their power production warranties are pretty lengthy. Generally, the industry predicts at least 80% power output after 25 years. That’s production is pretty impressive for a panel that stays outside for more than two decades!
Typically, a solar panel warranty allows for faster degradation in the first year. That’s because degradation happens quicker when the panel is first exposed to the sun, according to EnergySage. From there, the degradation is slated for around .5% each year.
Higher quality panels will have lower degradation rates. REC panels, for instance, are warrantied for 92% of their power output by year 25.
The other major electronic component included in your solar array is the inverter. This, if you remember from an earlier blog, is what turns the DC electricity produced by your panels into AC electricity used in your home or business.
Inverter warranties vary by brand. SolarEdge offers a 12 year-warranty for its inverters and a 25-year warranty for its power optimizers. Enphase, on the other hand, boasts a 25-year warranty for its microinverters.
Most homeowner insurance policies cover solar systems, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
“Solar energy systems and the rooftop panels or tiles are largely considered a permanent attachment to your property, similar to a patio or a security system,” according to Nationwide. However, a ground-mounted system may require an “add-on or a separate policy.”
It’s a good idea to check with your insurance agent about the details of your policy. That insurance will come in handy, because damage from harsh weather isn’t typically covered by solar panel warranties, according to EnergySage.
Manufacturer warranties and homeowners insurance can help you feel at peace when making a big investment in solar. But what about the actual installation itself?
Installers like us often offer workmanship warranties that cover installation practices such as roof penetrations. It basically ensures that the system was installed correctly.
If the proposal you receive from an installer doesn’t include it, be sure to ask about what kind of labor warranty they offer.
Solar panels come with two types of warranties that should make you more confident in your solar investment. That, paired with homeowners insurance and installer workmanship warranties, will allow you to focus on reducing your power bills while producing clean renewable energy for years to come.
Read more from Northland’s solar energy experts:
- “How many solar panels do I need?” Find out here
- Solar panel warranty: How to protect your investment
- Getting solar quotes? Here’s how to read your proposal
- Solar tax credits and you: What’s in the new climate change bill
- Designing a new home with solar panels: A guide to maximizing your system