Understanding Solar Panel Warranties | DroneQuote
By DroneQuote | Posted May 13, 2019
Reading time: 6 minutes
Installing solar panels for your property is a great investment for your home. In the significant majority of cases, solar panels will produce abundant electricity. In some cases, however, when malfunctions happen a customer will first turn to the system warranty. With different system options including a wide selection of components and different methods of paying for the system, solar panel warranty details may not be at the top of your list of things to ask about. After the solar installation, the warranty information that comes with the system is most often shelved somewhere and moves out of mind.
After reading this post, you should be able to find the solar system warranty details specific to the system are considering. Also, you should be able to better understand the solar warranty information you find. Finally, you will see a few quick suggestions to easily sift through the solar warranty language to find the information you want to know.
How does solar warranty work?
Solar warranties work in different ways depending on which component you are looking at. A solar system is comprised of the panels, inverter(s), mounting system, additional miscellaneous components, and sometimes battery storage. Each of these components carries its own warranty specifics.
Solar warranty coverage also works agreeing to terms and conditions for ongoing coverage. This may include the workmanship of the installation, the placement of components, or even the modification of components from painting.
In some cases where homeowners have installed systems themselves, a user may overload the voltage on an inverter and void the warranty. In other more drastic cases, inappropriately set charge/discharge rates on a battery system may also render the warranty useless.
What does my solar warranty cover?
Solar warranties protect the homeowner or end user from some or all additional costs that may come as a result of faulty equipment that is not performing or not performing to an acceptable level.
An important distinction here is that there may be additional costs with filing a claim on the warranty such as shipping & handling, the labor to replace the component or even a pro-rated cost for the replacement of the part itself. These details are important to find in a PDF cut sheet from the manufacturer detailing the specifics of their warranty coverages.
Coverage by part
Panel warranties are often times the hardest to understand because there are two things the warranty covers on the same product. First, there is the performance warranty and then the product workmanship warranty.
The performance warranty of a solar panel covers the panel’s ability to produce power for a specific time period, usually 25 years, with an acceptable loss rate per year and a defined loss total by the end of the warranty period.
The product workmanship warranty protects the end user from any manufacturing defects which would have an effect on the panel functionality. These defects may be from faulty or loose connections, defective back sheets, or issues with the glass or frame of the panel. Most manufacturers offer a 10 or 12-year warranty for this, though some like LG and Solaria offers coverage for 25 years. Companies like Sunpower have been offering a true and complete 25-year warranty that is by far industry leading, leaving you with nothing to worry about.
More important than a panel warranty is the inverter warranty, especially if you have a central inverter. Without a functional inverter system, you may as well not have solar because the electricity won’t make it into your home and you’ll lose significant output.
Usually, central inverters come with a warranty period of 10 to 12 years for their products, while micro inverters tend to have longer warranties of up to 25 years.
Save for an errant golf ball or neighborhood baseball, panels are going to operate reliably well into the future, whereas inverters are the typical point of failure.
Home battery warranty
Energy storage systems are a recent add-on to solar panel systems and have seen greater adoption rates as of late. Just like the rest of the parts list, the battery system has a warranty specific to the manufacturer.
A popular battery like LG Chem, makers of LG solar panels, will offer a warranty period of 10 years. This warranty will cover the battery’s ability to store energy during that ten year period, and as the performance warranty of panels, defines an acceptable range of 10 years for acceptable storage capacity.
Who is responsible for the labor cost?
While it is true that in most cases the warranty protection will cover the cost of the component, be mindful of who is responsible for additional costs. Some warranties will cover costs associated with replacing a faulty part. If the warranty of your component does not cover additional costs, some installers will offer that as part of their agreement.
The warranty from SolarEdge, for example, clearly states that the labor required to repair or replace their inverters is included in the warranty.
What about the installer’s warranty?
The installer’s warranty is equally important in the big picture because they will be the ones installing the solar components on your home. The installer will offer you warranties on the workmanship of their work, which includes important things like penetrations to the roof. Roof penetration warranties are usually 10 years from installers.
Other workmanship warranties that may impact your system’s performance are the kinds of materials the installer uses to complete their work. Remember that all of these components have to live outside in the sun every single day for at least 25 years for you to get the full return on investment, so if the installer is offering long warranties, their choice of install components better be up for the task. Things like cheap conduit or non-code compliant components are not only going to have a short life span, but they may eventually be unsafe.
And finally, be very mindful of installers that sell their extraordinarily long warranties relative to how long they have been in business. As professionals in the solar industry, we sometimes see brand spanking new companies underselling the market price for quality work and including what may seem like perpetual warranties. If something is too good to be true, well, you know how that goes…
How to find the warranty information you need?
While there is a lot of warranty information to be mindful of, you don’t have to know the details about every single thing related to the warranty. You just have to know how to look for the information you need so you can make an informed decision. The varying levels of details can be overwhelming and difficult to understand, but you can really simplify the process for yourself by knowing how to easily find the information you need
It all comes down to how you search for it. When looking through quotes single out the component specifics used in your bid. Say it looked like the following:
10kWh LG Chem battery Model RESU10H
You will want to use the model name and the letters “PDF” in your Google search. With this query, you will get results linking you directly to the manufacturer’s specifications and warranty cut sheets. You’ll know this because you will see the letters PDF in the new link or in the search result.
Once you find the warranties for each component, you can now search in the PDF document by typing in search queries relative to what you are looking for.
Warranty spec sheet searches
Here you will want to look for keywords like:
“Does not include”
“Buyer” – typically you, the consumer
Look for any other words with the search feature in a quick and efficient manner so you can look for specific language in the solar warranty terms and conditions. As a side note, using the find feature in your browser can make just about any other research experience a lot easier.
Don’t sweat the solar warranty
There’s no denying that solar warranties can be hard to understand, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t cut through all the nonsense and get right to what matters by knowing what to look for, how to find it, and how to make sense of it once you have the information in front of you.
What matters is that you choose the right installer to take care of your home as you would if you were pounding the nails yourself and also an installer that has a strong track record of great work and better customer service. See for yourself how our partner installers fare when you get quotes and compare them side-by-side.
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