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A 2023 Guide to Understanding Solar Panel Warranties

Dec 01, 2023

One of the main factors that makes solar panels so valuable is their long warranty. The leading solar manufacturers now offer a product warranty of up to 25 years, which means your power bill savings are protected for a long time.

The best solar companies may offer warranties that protect not only the panels themselves, but the installation as well.

Many home appliances have a basic warranty that offers you a free replacement during a specified period. Solar panels are covered by different types of warranties, which protect you from several issues.

The product warranty replaces your solar panels for free if they malfunction due to material or workmanship defects. The coverage period varies depending on the brand and specific product, but the solar industry standard is 10 years or more. The best warranties offer 25-year coverage, and you can get them from leading brands like SunPower and Q Cells.

As a bare minimum, you should look for a warranty that offers coverage against panel failure for at least 10 years. We at the Marketwatch Guides Team recommend solar panels with a 25-year product warranty, since there are now several brands who offer this benefit.

Power warranties are also known as performance warranties, and they are offered with renewable energy equipment such as solar panels and wind turbines. Photovoltaic (PV) cells gradually lose performance, and this means the amount of electricity generated will decrease slightly each year. However, a power warranty ensures that this will happen at a very slow rate.

Power warranties are generally longer than product warranties, and most manufacturers offer 25 to 30 years. A high-quality panel loses around 2% to 3% productivity during the first year, and then less than 0.50% per year. This means the best solar panels can generate at least 85% of their initial electricity output after a 25-year period.

Ideally, you should look for a solar panel performance warranty with the following conditions:

Some solar manufacturers will guarantee a degradation rate as low as 0.25% per year, and a performance warranty period of up to 30 years.

The best solar companies offer homeowners an installation warranty of their own.

Most solar brands are dedicated exclusively to manufacturing, and they delegate installation services to approved contractors. However, companies such as SunPower and Tesla also offer their own installation services. In these cases, you may get an integrated warranty with full coverage: product, performance and installation.

Solar installation warranties can range from around five years up to 25 years. Generally, you get the best warranties when you hire installation companies who are certified by the solar brands they represent. You can also get long warranties from solar manufacturers who offer their own installation services.

Solar panel warranties don't cover other system components such as inverters, racking and batteries. These components have their own product warranties, which are generally shorter than solar panel warranties.

Solar batteries and inverters both have a service life of 10 to 12 years and a typical warranty period of five years or more. Depending on the manufacturer, you may get a warranty that covers the entire service life of the product. For example, the Tesla Powerwall and LG Chem RESU are considered two of the best home batteries, and both have a 10-year warranty.

Microinverters are designed to be installed on each solar panel instead of having a central string inverter for the entire array. If you choose this configuration, there are microinverters with a warranty period of up to 25 years.

In general, solar warranties will not cover you from damage that is caused by incorrect use of the panels. Solar manufacturers provide warranty documents with detailed terms and conditions, and you should read them carefully.

A solid warranty gives you peace of mind by protecting your solar investment and future savings. You can rest assured that your power bills will be lowered for the entire warranty period, since malfunctioning panels are replaced for free. However, there are important factors to consider when comparing solar panel warranties.

As previously mentioned, solar panels don't have a single warranty. There is a product warranty that covers manufacturing defects and a power warranty that covers electricity generation. You get separate warranties for other system components such as the solar inverter, which are generally shorter than the solar panel warranty.

Photovoltaic modules and other solar system components have long warranties, and you may decide to sell your home during this time. Ideally, you should be able to transfer your warranty to the next owner. This makes your home more attractive for potential buyers, since they are getting a solar panel system with warranty coverage.

The product warranty will normally replace any solar panels that fail due to material and workmanship defects. However, the labor costs associated with the replacement may not be covered. You may also find warranties that cover labor up to a specified dollar amount.

Remember that the best solar panel installation companies offer their own workmanship warranties. They will often cover labor costs that are not covered by the manufacturer, but make sure you ask before closing the deal.

Solar manufacturer warranties will cover you against many potential issues, but keep in mind they don't offer coverage against everything. For example, many solar panel warranties will not cover you against extreme weather and fire caused by external sources. In this case, you can look for a homeowner's insurance policy that protects your solar panels from hazards that are not covered by their own warranty.

The limitations of solar panel warranties vary depending on the manufacturer, and you should read warranty documents carefully before choosing your solar equipment brands.

The best solar brands offer excellent warranties, but you are only covered when the panels are being used properly. The following are some common ways in which a solar panel warranty can be voided.

Most solar manufacturers only offer a warranty if your PV system is installed by professionals. In other words, you will most likely void the warranty if you attempt a DIY installation, even if you manage to install the panels properly.

Any modifications to your home solar system should also be carried out by professionals. This includes adding panels to generate more electricity, or adding a battery system to use solar energy at night. If you rewire or modify a solar power system on your own, you will most likely void the warranty.

You should never clean solar panels with abrasive tools or chemical agents, since you can cause damage that is not covered by the manufacturer's product warranty. To avoid scratches, solar panels should be cleaned with soft tools such as squeegees and soft brushes.

Solar panels require minimal maintenance, since they have no moving parts suffering mechanical wear. However, their warranty may be negatively affected if excess dirt builds up.

Any signs of solar panel damage should be reported right away, since many issues get worse if left unattended. In some cases, a solar panel malfunction may cause secondary damage that is not covered by the warranty. There are also cases where the warranty may not apply if there is evidence that you left an issue unattended for a long time.

Many solar inverters include an energy monitoring system, where you can keep track of the kilowatt-hours generated each day. However, a monitoring system can also help you detect issues that don't cause visible damage.

Solar panels have several types of equipment warranties. The best panels come with a 25-year product warranty and a 25 to 30 year power warranty. Ten to 12 year warranties are typical for string inverters and solar batteries, and some microinverters are covered for up to 25 years.

The best solar installation companies offer their own workmanship warranty, and you may get coverage for up to 25 years. They can also help you file warranty claims with the solar equipment brands they work with. Having your solar panels installed by professionals is critical, since most brands will not offer coverage for DIY projects.

When going solar, a solid warranty makes sure you get the expected savings over time. The federal tax credit gives you back 30% of the cost of a solar panel system within a year, and a long warranty makes sure you also recover the remaining 70%.

The length of a solar panel warranty varies depending on the manufacturer, but a 10-year product warranty and a 25-year performance warranty are considered a bare minimum in the solar industry. Some manufacturers offer a 25-year product warranty and a 30-year performance warranty.

Solar panels can last for several decades, and you can find 40-year old photovoltaic systems that are still operational.

The solar panel lifespan that gets warranty coverage is generally 25 to 30 years.

Solar panel warranties are important to make sure you get the expected electricity savings over time. For example, if your solar energy system is expected to save at least $1,200 per year, a 25-year warranty means you get $30,000 in guaranteed savings.

Solar panel warranties also help you qualify for favorable loan conditions. For example, if your solar panels are covered for 25 years, getting a 15-year loan from a local bank is easier.

The cost of a solar panel warranty is $0 in most cases. Solar manufacturers normally include the product warranty and performance warranty when you purchase the panels.

Leonardo David is an electromechanical engineer, MBA, energy consultant and technical writer. His energy-efficiency and solar consulting experience covers sectors including banking, textile manufacturing, plastics processing, pharmaceutics, education, food processing, real estate and retail. He has also been writing articles about energy and engineering topics since 2015.

Sabrina Lopez is an editor with over six years of experience writing and editing digital content with a particular focus on home services, home products and personal finance. When she is not working on articles to help consumers make informed decisions, Sabrina enjoys creative writing and spending time with her family and their two parrots.

Leonardo David Sabrina Lopez