A Guide to Solar Panel Warranties
When choosing your solar panels, spending a bit more for a premium tier-1 module can provide an additional layer of peace-of-mind knowing your purchase is backed by a strong manufacturer who stands behind their equipment. Quality tier-1 solar panels rarely break and generally require very little maintenance. Solar panel manufacturer warranties and installer workmanship warranties offer the reassurance your equipment purchase meets a higher level of quality and reliability. Solar panels warranties are often split into two categories, (1) Product Workmanship Warranty and (2) Performance Warranty. Solar panel warranties will typically have different time lengths and areas of coverage for these categories. Your solar array is a long-term commitment and a large investment; therefore, it is important to understand your system’s module warranty coverage.
Product Workmanship Warranty
In simple terms, the product workmanship warranty protects you against manufacturing defects and equipment failures. Solar panels are incredibly durable, with most manufacturers offering 10 or 12-year product warranties. Panels are made to withstand large amounts of snow and ice as seen in states like Wisconsin to the unpredictable weather of the Midwest with heavy rains, high winds, hail, humidity, and hot summer days. Many tier-1 solar module manufacturers extend their product workmanship warranty to as long as 25 years. More often, a warranty will cover replacing an entire panel for things such as corrosion, faulty wiring, and imperfections in the glass or frame structure.
A manufacturer performance warranty guarantees your panels will produce their rated output over the life of the module. Solar panel production naturally degrades over time, much like a cell phone battery which doesn’t hold a charge as it ages. Panel degradation happens almost unnoticeably at less than 0.25 – 0.5% loss per year. Tier-1 manufacturers typically offer a warranty of about 90% performance in the first 10 years and 80% performance for up to 25 years. Most systems when properly designed and installed will work efficiently far beyond their 25-year warranty expiration. The performance warranty is either linear or stepped coverage during the duration of the warranty.
Linear and Stepped Warranties
Solar panel manufacturers typically provide a linear warranty on their top-performing modules. A linear warranty progresses at a constant rate year-over-year. Linear warranties generally offer more coverage compared to step warranties which decrease in coverage at certain milestones during the warranty period.
Most reputable, industry certified solar contractors will provide an installation warranty between 5-10 years. An installer warranty will typically cover the labor and equipment from a faulty installation. Choosing a contractor dedicated to providing a quality finished installation and one who stands behind their workmanship with an installation warranty provides another layer of assurance. Additionally, be sure to ask about an extended installation warranty and/or service and support agreement prior to signing a contract for added peace-of-mind.
Maintaining Your Warranties
Solar module warranties can be voided for many reasons. To maintain the integrity of your equipment warranties, following these guidelines;
- Choose a quality contractor who is certified in the industry and will correctly install your renewable energy solar array according to the manufacture’s guidelines. Failure to use a certified installer may nullify the performance and product workmanship warranties.
- Use the equipment as intended, the most common mistake here is not sizing a system correctly, potentially pushing your equipment to perform above rating thresholds.
- For service or repairs, use only certified industry professionals. Contacting the original installer is the best option in maintaining the product workmanship and performance warranties. Using any unlicensed workers for repairs or installation will often void all warranties.
- Lastly, properly maintain the exposure of your solar panels to the sun. For example, if trees in your yard grow and over time begin to block the sun from reaching the panels, your performance warranty could be affected.
Solar panel warranties are often transferable from one homeowner to the next. The transfer of warranties usually requires you to inform your installer and in some cases the manufacture by completing some basic warranty transfer paperwork. In the event a module manufacturer has gone out-of-business, warranties will often transfer to a third-party who continues to honor replacement options and refunds under the original warranty.
In addition to warranties, homeowner’s insurance could help cover your array in the event of a catastrophic failure or natural disaster. Most insurance providers offer additional insurance for your solar array or cover the equipment as a permanent addition to the home’s structure. Make sure to check your homeowner’s policy for coverage limits. Combining insurance with warranties is the best way to reduce any gaps in coverage and have maximum protection on your investment.
Have questions? Contact our team for more information on solar panel warranties and the solar journey.