By Tim Henderson
You’re looking forward to switching the house over to solar, but you wonder about the types of solar panel warranties available for homeowners. Before you make the conversion, it helps to understand the differences between a solar performance, product and service warranty.
Different types of home solar panel systems offer different solar panel warranties, so keep these four important considerations in mind as you finalize your decision about products and services.
Solar panels rarely break, and they generally require minimum maintenance. System components go through rigorous industry testing to ensure they can hold up to severe weather and damaging situations.
Manufacturers are able to offer long-term warranties on solar panels because of the components’ proven strength and durability. Solar panels increase your home’s property value with a performance guarantee that makes them a solid investment.
Regardless of a system’s established quality, take the time to research your options and become familiar with different solar panel installations for homes. Always read a warranty’s fine print to be sure you understand the specifics of its coverage.
Do a little homework, and research solar panel warranty comparisons across multiple manufacturers. If one company’s warranty doesn’t offer the coverage available from reputable manufacturers, its panels may not be top quality.
It’s also important to choose an installer with a proven track record, solid industry experience and good references. Be very cautious of any contractor who can’t or won’t give you detailed information about your warranty’s coverage and limits.
Homeowners often wonder what the difference is between a solar performance warranty, product workmanship warranty and service workmanship warranty. All three are equally important, but they provide different guarantees.
A performance warranty or guarantee is issued by the solar panel’s manufacturer and covers the product’s effectiveness. This type of warranty takes into consideration a decrease in an average solar panel’s production value of between 0.25 and 0.5 percent each year.
Typical performance warranties cover panels for up to 25 years, but most systems work efficiently long after warranty expiration. The numbers are similar on solar panels industry-wide, so be wary of a performance warranty with limited coverage.
The manufacturer will also usually offer a product workmanship warranty. This type of warranty ensures that the solar panels are free from defects and that each component was tested before installation. Some top-name manufacturers, such as Panasonic, offer product workmanship warranties for up to 25 years.
Solar panels also come with a workmanship warranty offered by the contractor who installs the product. A typical workmanship warranty from a certified company covers panels for an average of 10 years.
If solar panels develop problems due to faulty installation, your workmanship warranty covers the cost of repairs or replacement. A reputable contractor guarantees a finished project with a workmanship warranty in place for at least 10 years after installation.
Without professional installation, a solar panel warranty can become void. DIY installations or work performed by a contractor who lacks industry certification can nullify a performance warranty. Bringing in a company other than the original installer for maintenance or repairs may void both the performance and workmanship warranty.
Failing to properly maintain your solar panels can also cause warranty problems. For example, if trees in your yard block the sun from reaching the panels, failure to keep branches trimmed back can affect your performance warranty.
Ask your contractor for details about specific causes and conditions that might void either type of warranty on your home’s solar panel installation.
Check with your agent about solar panel warranty insurance and coverage available through your homeowner’s insurance policy. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab, most reputable insurance companies can easily modify policies to cover solar panels.
Homeowners insurance typically covers a wide range of solar panel damages including:
• Fire or water damage
• Ice and snow damage
• Wind, hail and lightning
• Falling objects and explosions
• Vehicle and aircraft damage
• Theft and vandalism
When you go over options for a residential solar panel installation, ask about the details on both solar performance guarantees and solar workmanship warranties. Make sure you know exactly what is and isn’t covered. Your contractor can help you understand the specifics for your home’s installation.
If you have friends or neighbors who are also considering solar panel installations, share this post with them so that everyone can make decisions with confidence.
As the largest residential and commercial solar panel installer in Santa Cruz County, we’re always happy to help homeowners understand the installation process. Sandbar Solar & Electric has proudly served home and business owners across the California central coast for 13 years. We’re proud of our reputation for designing and installing the most efficient solar panel systems available.
We invite you to look through our online project portfolio covering our work in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, San Jose and all across the Bay Area. You have our professional commitment to top-tier workmanship, ethical solutions, community sponsorship and environmental stewardship.
Tim has worked in the solar industry since 2008. He has a Master's Degree in Energy Resources Engineering from Stanford University. His years of experience include working on solar energy projects for both homes and commercial properties. Tim enjoys sharing his knowledge of this evolving industry and making a difference in his community.
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