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A Guide to Solar Panel Warranties

Updated: Apr 24


solar panel warranty

When installing a home solar system, customers invest ten thousand dollars or more. Typically, the most expensive equipment on a photovoltaic (PV) system are the solar panels. But the job of a solar panel is not easy, so solar panel warranties are critical.


Solar PV modules are in the sun day after day, exposed to large temperature swings and extreme weather conditions. Depending on the climate, solar panels must endure hail, ice storms, blazing heat, and even hurricane-strength winds.


Solar panel warranties and homeowner’s insurance can help protect your customer’s investment in a rooftop solar system. Let’s explore this important topic so you can pass relevant information along to potential customers.


What Is A Solar Panel Warranty?

A solar panel warranty is a guarantee from manufacturers that covers defects and performance issues. Typically lasting 10 to 25 years, it assures customers that the PV panels will meet specified standards and offers repair or replacement if problems arise during the warranty period.


Typically, premium PV panels offer longer product warranties and stronger power performance guarantees. Many solar companies sell both a value panel and a premium panel, so customers can choose which one they want. The biggest difference between value and premium panels is usually the solar panel efficiency and the warranties.


In general, there are three different types of warranties that cover solar panels. Also, homeowners insurance is an option to cover damage from weather, fires, or vandalism.


Solar Panel Performance Guarantees

PV modules are exposed to the elements every day. As they age, they gradually become less efficient in converting sunlight into solar electricity due to light-induced degradation.


Power performance warranties ensure that PV panels produce a certain percentage of their original capacity during a certain period. A common power performance guarantee is that the panels will generate at least 90% of their initial capacity for 10 years and 80% for 25 years. This is the percentage of the maximum power output as specified by the manufacturer.


In some cases, the guarantees vary by the product line of a given solar panel manufacturer. For example, the Jinko Tiger N-type panel has a lower rate of light-induced degradation, and the power performance guarantee spans 30 years instead of 25. Therefore, the warranty on these panels is at a higher level than other panels that Jinko produces.


How Solar Performance Guarantees Work

Understanding these warranties can be a bit difficult to decipher without a basic understanding of how they work. The guarantee is generally stated as a percentage of the nominal power in the first year and then a yearly decrease in power up to a certain percentage.


For example, Q Cells states 98% nominal power in the first year, and then the nominal decrease in output is not to exceed 0.5% annually from years 2 to 25. To calculate this, remember that the nominal power in year one is calculated differently than in years 2 to 25. Therefore, the minimum nominal power after 25 years is 86%. To calculate this: 0.86 = 0.98 - (24 x 0.005)


If you want to calculate the nominal power output after 11 years is: 0.93 = 0.98 - (10 x 0.005)


Keep in mind that sometimes solar panels underperform because they need to be cleaned. Heavily soiled modules can produce less electricity because the solar radiation is blocked.


Solar Panel Product & Materials Warranties

These cover the integrity of the solar panels and protect against manufacturer defects. Although most major module manufacturers offer equipment warranties for at least 10 or 12 years, some premium panel manufacturers or lines have longer protection, such as 20- or even 25-year warranties.


Gradually, some manufacturers have been offering longer product warranties. Just 10 years ago, few offered product warranties of 25 years. Now it is relatively common. Beware that the warranty may not be consistent across various models from the same manufacturer. Often, the solar panel warranty varies and is longer with some panels compared to others. Sometimes, high-performance models may have longer warranty periods.


Some solar module manufacturers offer the option to extend the warranty period. For example, Silfab offers a standard 12-year warranty on solar panels with the option to extend it to 25 years when using a registered and approved Silfab solar installer. Likewise, REC offers a 20-year solar panel warranty for all installers and a 25-year product warranty for REC-certified contractors.


Here are the solar panel warranties that major manufacturers offer:

PV Panel Manufacturer

Duration of Home Solar Panel Warranty (in Years)

Power Performance Guarantee Over 25 Years

12 Years*

84.8%

10 Years*

83%*

25 Years

87.0%

25 Years

90.8%

25 Years

86.0%

20 Years/ 25 Years

80.7%

12 Years/ 25 Years

82.6%

25 Years

86.0%

25 Years

92.0%

25 Years

80.7%

* Minimum warranty period length varies by the series


Solar Panel Labor Warranties

Although most solar PV panels come with warranties, they typically only cover the equipment and not the labor associated with swapping out the module. Many solar panel repairs are fairly involved and require solar technicians going up on the roof, removing broken panels, and then mounting and wiring the new modules.


Solar Warranties for Labor & Service

Typically, solar companies offer their own labor and service guarantees that are separate from equipment manufacturer warranties. These solar company labor warranties vary considerably between installers, but often last 3 to 10 years. However, some solar contractors set themselves apart by offering a 25-year labor and service warranty.


This information is usually written on the proposal and clearly stated to potential customers. Offering no labor and service warranty could be a disadvantage, making your solar company less appealing to potential customers.



What Do Solar Panel Warranties Cover?

Solar panel warranties protect against manufacturer defects and premature light-induced degradation. Manufacturers will commonly warranty claims by either remedying the issue, replacing the panel, or refunding the original purchase price of the module.


Keep in mind that proper installation is critical to avoid damage to the solar panels. For example, ensure that the racking system can handle the wind load of the project site. Also, it is vital to determine if it is indeed the solar panel that failed or perhaps the issue is related to the inverter or power optimizer.


What Can Void a Solar Panel Warranty?

Beware that there are many things that can void solar panel warranties, such as altering the panels, improper installation, or faulty equipment. Unfortunately, many manufacturers do not protect against hail, lightning, vandalism, and fire, but homeowners insurance can protect your customer’s investment.


Does Homeowner’s Insurance Cover Solar Panels?

Typically, solar equipment warranties don’t protect your clients fully from the unexpected. Thankfully, most homeowners' policies do cover solar power systems, but clients should confirm this with their agent. Also, it might be necessary to increase the policy’s limit to ensure that the PV system is adequately covered.


For commercial solar installations, commercial property insurance can cover clean energy systems. Likewise, it is critical for your clients to ensure that the solar installation is covered and that the policy has adequate coverage.


Do Home Warranties Cover Solar Panels?

Basic home warranties do not cover solar panel systems because they are considered permanent attachments to the home and are part of the structure. However, PV installers and solar panel manufacturers typically offer warranties, and most homeowners insurance covers solar energy systems from the unexpected, like fire, hail, or storm damage.


What Solar Panels Have The Best Warranties?

SunPower has the best solar panel warranties, with a 25-year product warranty and a power performance guarantee of 92% after 25 years. However, Panasonic also offers some of the best solar panel warranties in the PV industry, with a power performance guarantee of 90.8% after 25 years.


What Solar Panels Have a 25-year Warranty?

Numerous solar module manufacturers offer a 25-year product warranty, including CertainTeed, Hanwha Q CELLS, LG, Panasonic, Solaria, SunPower, and Trina Solar. In addition, REC and Silfab offer a 25-year solar panel warranty when installed by a manufacturer-approved PV contractor.


The Cost Of Solar Panel Warranties

Warranties are included in the cost of purchasing the solar panels. The only exception is the option of extending the warranty, but this is relatively rare with solar panels but is more common with inverters.


A more likely scenario is that your clients will need to increase the coverage on their homeowner’s insurance policy which could have a modest impact on their insurance premiums. If your customers do file a homeowner’s insurance claim, they will likely first need to meet the deductible for the homeowner's insurance.


For example, if their deductible is $500 and their solar PV system incurred $3,000 in hail damage, their insurance could cover $2,500 of that total.


Why Solar Installation Warranties Are Important

Most solar panel systems cost thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. Although solar systems pay for themselves in savings, this will not happen if the system stops functioning. Solar panel product warranties offer your customers peace of mind that their solar investment is safe. In addition, it’s important to offer a labor, workmanship, and service warranty for at least a few years.


Being able to explain equipment warranties will help with closing solar deals and ensure that your customers are well-informed. When designing PV systems, consider solar warranties before making a final decision on equipment. If your company needs PV design, permitting, and solar engineering support, consider collaborating with GreenLancer on your next project.


Sign up for free and shop the GreenLancer marketplace, which helps streamline the solar design and permitting process for PV installers. Our residential and commercial services include solar engineering design services, PV plan sets, and interconnection applications. We offer a fast turnaround time and work with solar contractors nationwide.


Fill out the submission form below to learn more about joining the GreenLancer marketplace.



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