You wouldn’t buy a house without having insurance on it. You wouldn’t buy a new car that didn’t come with a warranty. You shouldn’t buy solar panels that don’t come with a warranty.
But not to worry! Almost every single major solar manufacturer now has a 10, 12, or 25 year warranty on their solar panels. The only important thing you need to know is there are two kinds of warranties – Performance Warranties and Manufacturing Warranties.
What is a Solar Performance Warranty?
Nearly all the leading solar panel manufacturers are offering a linear performance warranty for 25 to 30 years on their solar panels. This linear performance warranty guarantees the expected output in watts of a panel will stay above a specified degradation rate (the decline in output that all solar panels experience over time as solar cells degrade somewhat under usage – an amount that’s usually less than 1 percent per year). This assures you that the panel will continue to have the capability to produce a specified percentage of power during the warranty period. The panel brands that we carry guarantee the performance to be around 80% of the original performance at the end of the warranty period.
However, the solar performance warranty does not guarantee a specific amount of solar power will be produced, because this can be affected by shading and by your area. It only guarantees that the panel has the ability and capacity to produce that much solar power by itself.
Imagine your solar panel installation was installed by professional solar installers like us yet you find the system’s production is below the desired output. If this is the result of a faulty solar panel, then the manufacturer’s performance warranty will provide coverage for a replacement and you would likely be sent a new panel.
What’s a Solar Manufacturer’s Warranty?
The manufacturer warranty, or product warranty, is the warranty that covers the material and workmanship of a solar panel. This more applies to the rest of the materials of the solar panel, like the aluminum frame and the internal circuitry. These things do need to be working fine for the solar panel to operate properly.
However this warranty is often much less time than the performance warranty, because workmanship can only be guaranteed for so long under outdoor conditions. Your solar panel might be placed under great wind strain during storms and this could damage the panel. There would be no way to tell in twenty years if this was a result of a bad solar panel or a result of a storm (which instead should be covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy).
The solar manufacturer’s warranty also does not cover the cost of labor to diagnose or replace a faulty solar panel, however most solar installation company contracts include language that covers you in this circumstance for at least three to five years. If it doesn’t, don’t sign with that company!
What are common solar panel warranties?
- For solar panels, they often come with 5 or 10 year manufacturing, and 20-25 year performance warranties.
- For inverters, they typically come with a 10 to 20 year product warranty.
- Racking and mounting equipment usually come with a 10 to 20 year warranty on material and workmanship.
Solar installation companies also often offer additional warranties or guarantees above and beyond what just comes with the solar panels. As a matter of contract the workmanship of the solar installation should be guaranteed for an average period of time – around five years for example. This is like with any homebuilding project – roofing, decking, siding installation – should all come with a default minimum warranty time.
A warranty might cover installation labor, electrical labor, broken solar panels, or it might cover all three things at once. A warranty however does not cover storm damage – that should be covered by your homeowner’s insurance.
A good solar installation company will provide a 5-year workmanship guarantee on the solar installation, covering:
- Performance / Output of the system
- Workmanship of the installation
- System monitoring
When you are shown a solar installation contract example, you should ask:
- What if I don’t get the solar output promised?
- What if my solar panels break?
Knowing the answer to these questions can give you peace of mind.
Inverter warranties – how long are inverter warranties?
Inverters are a separate component of your solar panel system. The inverter is a critical part of any solar system and you simply can’t install solar without them. No modern house in America runs on DC electric power. In fact the only real buildings that use direct current power directly are research centers that are built as part of a joint US-China research system (CERC) to study solar power efficiency, although some believe that DC powered buildings may make a comeback.
The inverter takes the DC solar power from your solar array and converts it to AC power. Fortunately in most cases the warranty for inverters is very comparable to the warranty for the solar panels.
Enphase is a leading inverter provider and its limited product warranty period is 25 years, meaning they will replace a faulty inverter for 25 years after installation. This gives significant peace of mind that the solar system you install will last a long time.
Solar Inverter Warranties List
|Magnum Energy||3 – 5 years|
|SolarEdge||Expandable to 25 years|
|SMA||5 – 10 years|
As you can see the warranty on inverters can vary widely based on the company. A big part of the difference is between grid-tie and off-grid inverter. A grid-tie inverter doesn’t also have to interact with a battery system and can often be simpler as a result, which makes it easier to provide a longer warranty. An off-grid inverter might have more work to do and so is not warrantied for as long.
Microinverters also typically have longer warranties because they are made to exacting specifications that end up making them last longer. A single microinverter can be replaced more easily than an inverter in a large-scale system.
Knowing the length of warranty found on your solar installation helps provide a ton of peace of mind when it comes to installing solar panels. Getting a warranty replacement from some companies has been made incredibly easy.
We hope these answers have helped you know more about the warranties offered on solar panels. Your solar investment deserves the protection!