There are two types of warranties available when it comes to solar panels: the product warranty and the performance warranty. Both are important to you as a buyer. Wading through the details of different warranty options can be daunting and tiresome. Here we explain the differences in the solar warranties in an easy-to-understand way. Let’s discuss.
A solar product warranty guarantees the design and construction of the solar panel itself. It covers manufacturing issues, environmental damage and early wear and tear of the solar panel. Usually the warranty for solar panels is 10–25 years, with a few manufacturers offering a 30-year product warranty. Obviously, the longer the warranty is, the better for you.
Most of the time, solar panels do not have issues, and even if one panel fails, your system will keep running. However, if the failure affects other panels or the entire system, you will need to take advantage of the product warranty. If you have a problem while under warranty, the manufacturer will ship you a free replacement panel. In most cases you must pay for shipping and installation charges. For example, Sunpower products come with a warranty that includes parts and installation labor costs.
A solar performance warranty guarantees that the solar panel will not degrade at an unreasonable rate. All solar panels experience some decline in electricity production over time. The normal amount of production decline is about 10% reduction in 10 years and 20% reduction in 25 years. If your panel declines at a higher rate than normal, the manufacturer will fix it at no cost or ship you a free solar panel replacement. Again, in most cases you may have to pay for shipping and installation charges, but it’s comforting to know that if your panels don’t produce up to par they are covered.
A performance warranty is not the same as a product warranty. For example, if your panel declines by 30% in the first year of ownership, but you don’t have a performance warranty, the manufacturer will not replace the panel because it is technically still working. Along that same line of reasoning, if in an unusual case a heavy rain ruins your panels so they do not work (because of defective panels, again, in our experience very very rare), then a performance warranty is of no use and only a product warranty would cover replacement. You really need both types of solar panel warranties.
Your solar photovoltaic system is a long-term investment that can free you from high electricity bills. To pay back your investment, the system must work at the expected capacity for several years and the warranty ensures they do. Remember that if a company goes out of business, the warranty will likely become void. Choose a reputable, financially-solid solar panel manufacturer and solar installation company that has been around for a while and has good customer reviews.
EnergyPal can help you understand solar panel warranties and compare solar system costs, benefits and performance and has pre-screened products and lots of experience with installation. Let us know. We’re here to help you make the right decision about solar!