Your solar system is meant to last 25-30 years – so getting the best warranties is vital.
There are a lot of ‘smoke and mirrors’ in the solar world when it comes to warranties. This post demystifies the topic and gives you the know-how to ask the right questions when you’re shopping for solar.
The starting point
Do you want to be trying to get through to a Chinese call centre if your inverter breaks down? What about if there’s a malfunction with your solar panels? Want to call Taiwan?
Of course not!
The ‘absolute must’ is that the manufacturer of your panels and inverter has got to have an Australian support office with a decent call centre.
Don’t be fooled by a manufacturer who seems to have an Australian support office but, when you look closely, it’s just an admin office or their tax accountant’s address.
Next, you need to make sure that the panel and inverter manufacturers are financially solid. You don’t want to be left in the lurch with a product that’s no longer supported because the manufacturer has gone out of business (and this does happen).
Check out how big they are, how long they’ve been established and – if you can get hold of the information – their financial strength and backing.
OK, we’ve got that out of the way. What’s next?
Four most important solar power warranties
There are four warranties to check on a solar panel system:
|Type of warranty||Industry standard|
|1. Solar panel performance warranty||25 years|
|2. Solar panels product warranty||10 years|
|3. Inverter warranty||5 years|
|4. Workmanship warranty||5 years|
The industry standard periods are at the lower end of what you should expect. In recent years, a number of solar manufacturers have lifted their game, and now offer warranties that exceed industry standards.
Solar panel performance warranty
This warranty is a measure of the degradation of your solar panels over a 25-year period. Like all electrical appliances, solar panels won’t work as effectively in 5, 10 – or 25 years – compared to their day 1 performance.
This warranty states the percentage degradation of the solar panels at the end of the 25-year period, compared to their day 1 power output.
The industry standard is that panels will perform at 84% of their power output at the end of the 25th year, compared to their day 1 performance.
The world’s best panel – Sunpower Maxeon – guarantee 92% performance at the end of the 25-year period. This is an exceptional statistic; most other premium panels are around the 83-84% mark.
Whilst this warranty gives you a good indicator of panel quality, it’s hard to claim on. That’s why it’s the least useful of the warranties you’ll be checking out.
Solar panels product warranty
This is the most important warranty for solar panels. That’s because it covers defective materials or workmanship in the manufacture of the panel.
You need to check that your panels warranty is for at least 10 years. What you need to ask is:
- Will they repair or replace the panels at their cost during the warranty period?
- Will they cover the cost of service technicians to come to your property? (You don’t want to pay call-out fees)
- Will they reimburse you for any loss of solar power for the time that the panels aren’t working?
- What types of damage aren’t covered by the product warranty?
The good news is that a number of affordable, good quality panels now come with a product warranty of at least 12 years – sometimes even longer.
This is the most important of all the warranties for your solar system. That’s because the inverter is the part of your system that’s most likely to fail.
Many inverters come with a 5-year product warranty. We recommend that you get an inverter that has a 10-year warranty, at the very least. Some of the 5-year inverter warranties can be extended to 10 years or longer; this is definitely worth doing.
It’s important that your solar inverter is installed in a way that doesn’t void the warranty. If it’s meant to be installed in an enclosure, make sure this happens. Inverters are likely to malfunction if they are exposed to prolonged periods of direct sunlight. The last thing you want is your inverter to be installed on a west facing outdoor wall with no protection from the summer sun.
Watch out for the 5+5 warranties on inverters. This means you get 5 years covered for parts and labour, with the next 5 years covered just for parts. This is pretty useless as most of the cost is in the labour.
There are good inverters on the market with a 12 or 15 year warranty for parts and labour – and they’re reasonably priced. At the top end of the market, you can get inverters with a 25-year warranty. This may be worthwhile if you’re looking for total peace of mind and are willing to pay a bit extra for it.
Provided by your Solar Retailer, this warranty covers you if there’s a problem resulting from the workmanship of the installers.
Even the best installer can unwittingly cause damage during the installation process. This could be a small thing at the time – like a broken roof tile – which results in water damage in your home months, or even years, down the track.
The workmanship warranty should cover the cost of rectifying the damage. If there’s a leak in your kitchen caused by the broken tile, for example, the cost of replastering and repainting would be covered.
Of course, this warranty is only as solid as the Solar Retailer behind it. Check the track record of the Solar Retailer you are thinking of buying your system from. How big are they? How long have they been in business? Will they be around to service a claim on the workmanship warranty?
Please add some like the following .The best option to go for is a retailer offer a full 5 year system warranty as this covers your whole system that is will work as it should for 5 years. This includes some small items of yours system that may only have a 1 or 2 year warranty.
Get the best
A solar panels system should be a clean source of power for your home for at least 25 years. Make sure yours comes with solid warranties. Get the best warranties you can afford. It’s an investment in your home that you won’t regret!