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Solar panels are known for their durability and can last literally decades. Unfortunately, defects, system failure and other problems can arise. That’s why it is important for owners to understand what solar panel warranties are and how they work. This can literally save you hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Solar panel warranties have two components. The workmanship warranty covers manufacturing defects and lasts for 10-12 years, while the performance warranty provides assurance the product performs at least up to 80%-90% for 20-25 years.
What is the Solar Panel Workmanship Warranty?
The workmanship warranty (also called the equipment or material warranty) guarantees the solar panel is free from any manufacturing defects for a fixed period, i.e. 10 years. Defects that are found or arise covered during the warranty period will be repaired or replaced, free of charge.
Solar companies offer different levels of workmanship warranty coverage. Among those usually covered are:
- Assembly defects
- Installation defects
- System not running according to specifications
- Malfunctioning connectors
- Faulty junction boxes
- Defective cell connections
- Cracks or other defects on the panel glass and/or frame
Other areas may or may not be covered, but one ting is certain. If the panel doesn’t perform as expected due to manufacturing defect, the workmanship warranty will cover it.
What is the Solar Panel Performance Warranty?
The performance warranty ensures that the solar panel will perform at or close to the output rating over a fixed period. In most cases the period is 20 to 25 years. Solar panels degrade naturally over time, so the purpose of the warranty is to delay it as much as possible. When the system performance does degrade, it will be very slow.
These warranties also state the acceptable / expected performance drop for each year. The longer the performance warranty, the slower the panels deteriorate.
A 400W solar panel for instance, could have a 25 year warranty. The warranty states that in the first year, a 2% drop can be expected, and 0.6% each year for the next 25 years.
A 0.6% yearly drop for 25 years is 15%. Add the 2% from the first year (17%) and after 25 years, that 400W solar panel will still produce up to 83% of its capacity.
Some solar panel warranties guarantee up to 85% or higher performance after 25 years. These are Tier 1 solar panels and provide the best value for your money. There are many factors to consider when researching warranties, but length and percentage decline are two of the most important. If the system doesn’t perform at these levels or falls off suddenly, you can use the warranty to have it repaired or replaced.
Solar Panel Warranty Coverage Comparison
Solar panel warranties range from 10 to 25 years. As has been pointed before, studies have shown most solar panels still run fine even after the warranty expires. This is also true for batteries, inverters and charge controllers. While you can no longer avail of the warranty, the panel should still run. This is especially true if the solar panel is well cared for.
Here is a comparison of solar panel warranties from some well known manufacturers.
|Manufacturer||Solar Panel Warranty|
|Canadian Solar||10 years|
|Jinko Solar||10 years|
|Renogy Solar||10 years|
|Mission Solar Energy||12 years|
|SolarTech Universal||15 years|
What Causes a Warranty to be Voided?
These warranties often have a lengthy end user agreement, but it comes down to this. If you don’t use the solar panel as directed and something goes wrong, the warranty is voided.
Flexible solar panels for instance, can be bent only up to a certain degree. If you flexed it beyond the stated amount and it breaks, the warranty won’t cover that. inverters can only run a specific amount of load. if you attempt to carry more and it destroys your appliances, that’s not the manufacturer’s fault and the warranty is voided.
The same rules apply to solar batteries, charge controllers and solar generators. The rule is simple. Use the product only as directed and you’ll be covered by the warranty. As long as you follow this simple guideline there won’t be an issue.
Should I Get an Extended Solar Warranty?
Extended warranties vary from 5 to 15 years. If your solar panel only has a 10 year warranty, you could buy a 15 extended warranty to make it 25 years. And if you have a 25 year warranty, why not add another 10 or 15 years for good measure?
These additional warranties cost $300-$500 depending on the duration and coverage. Basically it extends the performance and workmanship coverage. There are advantages and disadvantages with this, and you have to decide if this is worth it.
- Security and peace of mind
- No need to look for solar repair services
- Could be cheaper than costly yearly repairs
- Makes a home more attractive to potential buyers
- It’s an added cost
- May not be required for new solar panels
- Extra charges for inverter and battery coverage
- Doesn’t guarantee the panels won’t malfunction
If you decide to get an extended solar panel warranty, ask the following questions.
- Are labor and parts included? Ask specifically about the areas you want the warranty to cover.
- Do you have to pay for shipping if the solar panel needs repair?
- How long does repair take? When and how will the panels be returned?
- Can you file a claim anytime?
What if the Solar Company Goes Bust?
That’s a major concern for solar panel owners. A lot of things can happen in 25 years, such as a solar company going bankrupt. What happens to the warranty then?
There are third party warranty companies which assume the warranty from the former manufacturer. Basically when a solar manufacturer shuts down, the warranty is transferred to another company. The process may vary, but for solar panel owners it serves as extra protection. If you’re not sure, contact your solar manufacturer and ask about it.
Does Home Insurance Include Solar Panels?
Some homeowner insurance policies cover solar panels. If so it’s an additional safety net besides the warranty. But this may not always be the case, so check your home insurance if solar panels are indeed part. in some cases where solar panels are not included, they may be added but at extra cost.
If you’re going to install solar panels at home, check the insurance first. It would be great if the panels are included. If not, ask if it’s possible to add them and how much it will cost. Just like with everything solar, a little bit of planning ahead is crucial.
Solar Battery Warranty
There are two types of solar batteries, lithium and lead acid. Lead acid comes in two categories, flooded and sealed. Sealed acid batteries come in two variants, AGM and gel. The average warranty differs for each.
- Lithium ion: 10-15 years
- AGM: 7 years
- Gel: 5-7 years
- Flooded: 3 years
Flooded lead acid batteries are the most affordable, but regular maintenance is needed. The warranty will be voided if it’s not maintained properly.
Sealed lead acid like AGM and gel don’t have require maintenance like flooded, but they cost more. Lithium ion batteries are the most expensive but also have the longest warranty.
Solar Inverter Warranty
Most inverter warranties range from 5 to 10 years. Micro inverters have the longest warranties. String inverters will need at least one replacement during a 10 year period. There are many types of inverters and the warranties are just as varied. just like solar panels, the key is to buy from a reputable manufacturer.
Installing solar panels is a heavy investment, and you are entitled to a fully functioning product. Most solar panels run without a hitch, but in the event something goes wrong, at least there’s the warranty. The more you know about solar panel warranties, the more money you can potentially save.