5 Tips to Help You Better Understand Solar Warranties

Sabrina Lopez
January 9, 2019
3 min read

Most modern solar panels are extremely durable, with peak output measured in decades rather than years. Even after their warranties expire, most of today’s better panels are expected only to show the slightest decline in efficiency over the course of decades. A well-maintained solar array should provide plenty of electricity for quite a while.

This durability has made panel manufacturers confident. Today, most better panel brands, such as SunPower, offer up to 25-year warranties. And most of the time these warranties cover failure and some degree of performance.

However, a solar energy system comprises much more than panels alone. So, if you’re looking to purchase solar, look closely at warranty coverage for every component of the system and the installation coverage offered by the installer. 

 

1. More than just solar panels

Solar energy systems are comprised of many different components. Solar warranties typically cover four main categories – panels, inverters, batteries (if you have them), and installation (labor + materials). The duration and scope of coverage for each category will vary between manufacturers and installers. The panel warranties are generally the longest (up to 25 years), but inverters typically cap out around ten years. Be sure to ask your installation partner for the full system warranty details at the time of purchase.

 

2. Know who to call if things go south

An authorized solar installer typically handles manufacturer warranty repair and replacement. Ideally, this should be the same company that sold and installed your system. When shopping, it’s worth discovering your potential solar partner’s capabilities and longevity. Do they do their installations or subcontract with other companies? Do they operate their service department? What are their hours and emergency after-hour resources? Is the company healthy, and will it be around 10 to 25 years later? Remember, a solar energy system will last for many decades if properly maintained, so choose your partners and products wisely.

 

3. Solar warranties and cost-sharing details vary widely

Some manufacturers will exchange a unit at the first sign of trouble, while some prefer to attempt a field repair first. There can also be ancillary expenses, such as shipping fees or removal/re-installation costs, not covered by a manufacturer’s core warranty. In these instances, most reputable installers will work with their customers to minimize any inconveniences. This is another good reason to select a reputable partner and carefully research their installation warranty and reputation.

 

4. Where warranties fall short, homeowner’s insurance can help

Like most technology, solar warranties generally do not cover problems resulting from natural disasters, such as fire or hailstorms, or harmful acts like vandalism or neglect. Consider this carefully if you live near a golf course, for example. Sun Valley Solar Solutions always recommends that homeowners look into insuring their systems as an extension of their homeowner’s policy.

 

5. Solar leases can change the rules…a bit

If you choose to purchase solar through a lease, you are essentially buying a warranty for the full period of the lease agreement through the leaseholder. In many lease programs, maintenance or performance issues fall to the leaseholder rather than the manufacturer (unless the leaseholder IS the manufacturer).  As many leases have a term of 20 years, it’s important to inquire how the lease program impacts manufacturer’s warranties that may fall short of that timeframe.

This list is hardly comprehensive, but it will hopefully get you on the right track and prepared to ask the right questions. Sun Valley Solar Solutions is always here to answer any questions about going solar.

If you're interested in learning more about solar, and how you can put Arizona’s most abundant natural resource to work for you, we invite you to download our complimentary solar whitepaper: Is Solar Right for You? You can also contact one of our solar experts for a custom solar quote.