The newbie guide to solar system warranties
The newbie guide to solar system warranties
Photo courtesy of Western Solar, Inc
Treated well, your solar power array should serve you for many years, saving you dollars on your energy bills every time the sun shines. That means keeping it running reliably, though, because every minute that it doesn't produce energy delays your return on investment. That's why it's important to understand what you should look for in your solar array's warranty. The fine print could mean the difference between a smooth solar experience — and keeping those energy savings in your pocket by avoiding paying out of pocket for module maintenance over the years.
To make sure you get the most of our your solar system warranty, there are three main considerations for homeowners looking to install a solar module: Look at the rules on equipment, labor, and performance.
Solar panels are designed to work for decades, and once installed failures are quite rare. Nevertheless, with panels costing hundreds of dollars each, this isn't something you should leave to chance. A good equipment warranty will offer replacements for equipment that fails in a set period. While warranties won't usually cover incidents like extreme weather events or vandalism, they should cover unreasonable wear and tear or mechanical failure.
Photo courtesy of Hot Purple Energy
Warranty length differs by manufacturer, with makers of higher-quality equipment more likely to offer longer periods. A 25-year warranty like Panasonic's is at the higher end of the scale, and will offer you enough protection to ensure that your solar installation pays for itself long before the warranty expires.
The panels are not the only equipment that you must insure against failure, though; the inverters are a more important concern. These devices convert the DC power from the panels into AC power that your home appliances can actually use. These units are more complex and the intense temperatures they regularly operate under can take their toll, causing the pieces to fail more frequently.
One way to decrease the impact of an inverter failure is to use microinverters, which are connected to and operate each panel individually. That way, a single inverter failure won't take out your entire array. Warranties are still crucial, though, when it comes to keeping costs down and savings high.
Look for warranty coverage from the inverter manufacturer if possible. In some cases, the solar panel manufacturer might offer warranty protection on preferred inverter brands. Panasonic offers an enhanced warranty for customers using Enphase microinverters bundled with its solar panels that covers that equipment for 25 years, too. As inverters are the more complex parts, it is crucial you don't overlook them during your warranty research.
Photo courtesy of Go Solar WNY
Cost of Labor for Repairs
Getting a replacement panel or microinverter only solves part of the problem. You must still install it on your roof, and that takes precise and skilled labor. Some manufacturers do not cover installation costs for replacement equipment, and the cost of the new installation can easily eat into your solar savings. That's why it pays to ask your installer about labor warranties for your particular module — ideally before you buy it.
For example, Panasonic offers a 25-year labor warranty for customers who work with its authorized installers, meaning that you won't have to pay for repairs on faulty equipment. If your warranty extends to its approved microinverters, it will cover the costs of labor for replacing those, too.
Performance Guarantees Over Time
Solar panels don't often fail, but their performance can degrade over time. As the years go on, they will produce less power than they did at the outset. Every watt counts when it comes to recovering the cost of your solar array, so look for a warranty that factors in performance degradation over time. Reputable manufacturers will offer a warranty guaranteeing a percentage of the original power production at a set point in time. Look for the high percentages. The industry average is around 80% after 25 years, so Panasonic's guaranteed performance rate of over 90% after 25 years is an attractive number.
Solar panels are a product that will last for decades — but to make sure the value of your investment lasts just as long requires careful consideration during the buying process. Reading the fine print can make all the difference when purchasing a solar array — an hour of reading now could save you headaches, money and peace of mind for years to come.
Planning to switch to solar power? Generate and store your own clean power with a system that lasts for decades. Get all your questions answered with a free quote from a trusted Panasonic installer.