Often when homeowners or businesses begin to investigate the feasibility of installing solar panels, the motivation and therefore the focus of their research centers around the potential cost savings, and secondarily the ‘green’ factor, i.e. friendliness to the environment.
While these two factors are undoubtedly important points, they should not be the only considerations for people considering the installation of solar panels. Because solar panels are man-made, they can be subject to failure or unanticipated poor performance, so it is worthwhile knowi
ng just what kind of solar panel warranty you’d be getting with your purchase.
What to look for in a solar panel warranty
Part one of a good warranty should include some kind of guarantee on the product itself, which means that the solar panel is free of manufacturing defects, and will not fail under normal usage for a prolonged period of time. Solar panel manufacturers in general will back their products for at least ten years. In most cases the failure of a single panel on the surface will not seriously degrade overall performance and will not affect the functionality of other panels, but this is not always true.
It’s good to know that a panel is covered by warranty in the event of a standalone panel failure, since even one panel will often cost in the hundreds of dollars to replace. The great thing about a product warranty for your solar panel is that it’s a very easy thing to prove to the manufacturer, since a panel is either working and generating electricity, or it is not working and generating nothing.
Part two of your solar panel warranty should include some language on the long-term performance of the system itself. Commonly the decline in electricity generated by solar panels should only be about .25% 1%each year, and a good production warranty will guarantee no more that 1% per year so that after 20 years your system should be guaranteed to have lost no more than about 20% of its original generating power.
If you were to discover that your solar panel system is losing significantly more power than this guideline rate, that would be a sign of accelerated performance degradation. Therefore it is a good idea to look for language in a warranty that is as specific as possible with regard to long-term performance of the system.
Why is a solar panel warranty important?
If you don’t think it’s important to be aware of the actual output of your solar panel system over a period of time, consider the fact that as your solar panel power generation declines, your home or business will be consuming greater amounts of electricity from a utility company, and the savings aspect of your solar panels will diminish. If energy savings was one of the reasons you were considering the purchase of a solar panel system in the first place, your advantage may be floating away in the atmosphere somewhere.
By doing some simple comparison shopping and checking warranties offered by solar panel manufacturers, you’ll get a good idea of the kind of product and service support each company provides to purchasers. Should your solar panel ever experience some kind of failure or degradation, knowing how your manufacturer will respond might be extremely useful to know. It may even provide some insight into the typical business practices of your solar panel manufacturer, which would be another piece of information worth knowing. For instance, if a warranty states that you can expect immediate shipment of a replacement part as soon as you have made your claim, that would reflect very well on the manufacturer’s policy.
From the above it should be apparent that cost savings and environmental friendliness are not the only things you need to consider when thinking about installing a solar panel system. It is true that most solar panel systems are very stable and perform well for long periods of time, but that doesn’t mean you should throw caution to the winds when purchasing. If some kind of failure or premature degradation does occur, you should know what to expect from the manufacturer.