Updated 3 weeks ago

The ultimate guide to solar panel warranties

Written by Jamie Smith , Edited by Catherine Lane

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When you invest in a solar energy system, one of the most crucial things to consider is the warranty offer. Manufacturer warranties provide a layer of financial protection for you in the event of faulty solar equipment, performance issues, and more. Researching warranty offers can be a little confusing, and going through countless documents can become a hassle.

Lucky for you, we’re here to break it all down and share our top picks for the best solar panel warranties on the market today!

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What is a solar panel warranty?

A solar panel warranty is a guarantee that a company or manufacturer gives to the customer, promising coverage for their products and how well they are expected to perform.

Any reputable solar panel manufacturer will offer two warranties: a product warranty and a performance warranty. These cover manufacturing faults and guarantee a certain level of performance for your panels.

Product and performance are the two basic warranties to watch when researching solar panel brands to invest in. However, some manufacturers go above and beyond and offer additional protection for things like installation, labor, and additional parts. These warranties are usually offered by manufacturers with certified installer programs, like REC and SunPower.

What’s the difference between product and performance warranties?

So, how can you decipher between product and performance warranties? It’s simple: product warranties cover the panels themselves (and sometimes other equipment, too!), while performance is more or less a promise that your panels will perform at a certain percentage over their lifespan.

Product warranty

Also known as an equipment or materials warranty, a product warranty protects you from any defects your solar equipment has that could have stemmed from workmanship errors during manufacturing or poor material quality. Standard product warranties typically last 10 to 15 years. However, it’s becoming increasingly common for premium panels to offer 20 or 25-year product warranties. 

It’s not very common, but it is definitely possible for your equipment to malfunction. Product warranties typically don’t cover the costs of diagnosing issues with panels – they cover the cost of repairing or replacing them if the issue is found to be linked to the manufacturer. These warranties don’t typically last as long as performance warranties – likely because trained installers should catch any imperfections right away.

For example, if you’re a homeowner getting panels installed and your installer notices a panel not functioning properly, the manufacturer will cover the costs to fix or replace it. Solar systems can be pricey, so being protected from putting forth even more money in the event of a faulty panel is always a bonus. Luckily, most, if not all, solar panel manufacturers offer a product warranty, so you can sleep better at night knowing you’re covered!

Product warranties are not installer workmanship warranties. Product warranties cover issues that happen during manufacturing. Issues from the actual installation would be covered by a warranty provided by the solar installer.

Performance warranty

Performance warranties guarantee a percentage of electric power output over the warranty period. Most solar manufacturers offer 25-year performance warranties. The amount of power your solar panel can output declines steadily over that period. While solar panel degradation is normal, be sure to read over your panel’s specification sheet or warranty terms for specifics.

The average solar panel performance warranty will guarantee a panel’s power output won’t drop by more than 2% after the first year and no more than 0.5% each year after that for the remainder of the warranty period.

Degradation rates vary based on the manufacturer. The lower the degradation rate, the better. As a general rule, stick with panels with a degradation rate in the 0.5% range or lower. This means you have panels that will produce more energy over its lifespan.

Remember that just because your panel isn’t operating at its full wattage doesn’t necessarily mean it’s damaged. The performance warranty for solar panels is based on the panel’s operation under Standard Test Conditions. So, don’t panic if you notice slight underperformance at first. There are a few different factors that go into how well a panel performs!

Why are solar panel warranties important?

Warranties are a signal of quality in a product. Companies offer better warranties for products that are better quality. Solar panel failure is extremely rare, as they are explicitly designed to last decades and withstand harsh weather conditions.

That being said, errors can occur. Warranties give customers peace of mind that the products are of the best quality and don’t contain any defects.

If this happens to you, it’s always good to have coverage on a big investment like solar panels! If your system has a problem, it’s nice to know there may be a way to find a solution. Just keep in mind that testing panels to find any manufacturing defects can be a lengthy process.

Top solar panel warranties on the market

To better understand what a good solar panel warranty looks like, we picked five of the top warranties on the market today.

Panasonic

Panasonic is a top-runner in the solar panel industry. The Japan-based company offers its AllGuard and Triple Guard warranty plans to homeowners who go solar through a Panasonic Authorized AllGuard Installer.

  • Product warranty: 25-year warranty that covers the panels, inverter, monitoring, and racking system. If damaged equipment qualifies for the warranty, the cost of shipping, labor, and replacement parts will be covered by Panasonic. 

  • Performance warranty: 25-year warranty that promises your system will have a maximum degradation rate between 0.25% and 0.50%, depending on the model installed.

Silfab Solar

Silfab Solar is a North American-based solar panel manufacturer that utilizes state-of-the-art technology. We ranked them at #7 on our list of the top 10 solar panel manufacturers of 2023.

  • Product warranty: 25-year warranty that covers repairs, replacements, and refunds for defective materials

  • Performance warranty: 30-year warranty that promises your system will operate at 82.6% of its total power by the end of the warranty period, with a degradation rate of 0.5% per year. This is longer than the industry standard!

REC Group

REC Group's logo next to its 25-year REC ProTrust warranty seal

This Norwegian company took the #4 spot on our top solar panel manufacturers list. Their panels are some of the top performing in the world, with a great warranty to go with it!

  • Product warranty: 20-year warranty that protects against damages or defects caused by the manufacturing process 

  • Performance warranty: 25-year warranty that promises your system will operate at 92% of its total power by the end of the warranty period, with a degradation rate of 0.25% per year.

REC offers REC ProTrust warranties to those who install their panels by a REC-certified installer. This warranty guarantees you a 25-year product warranty and a 25-year performance warranty and throws in a 10-year labor warranty as an added bonus.

Qcells

Graphic of Qcells 25-year product and performance warranty offer

Last but certainly not least, this American solar panel manufacturer landed the #1 spot on our top manufacturer list for 2023. As an extremely respected, reliable solar company, Qcells truly has it all – including a solid warranty offer.

  • Product warranty: 25-year

  • Performance warranty: 25-year warranty that promises your system will operate at 86% of its total power by the end of the warranty period, with a degradation rate of 0.5% per year.

SunPower

This California-based company, founded in 1985, offers its Complete Confidence warranty which provides comprehensive coverage for customers.

  • Product warranty: 25-year warranty that covers labor, shipping, and all solar system parts – not just the panels!

  • Performance warranty: a 25-year warranty that promises your system will operate at no less than 92% of its total power by the end of the warranty period, with a degradation rate of 0.25% per year.  

  • Also offers a 10-year warranty for storage and monitoring equipment.

However, SunPower recently experienced massive layoffs and closed its direct residential installation branch due to financial stress from tough market conditions and financial misstatements, wavering our confidence a bit in its ability to manage future warranty claims.

Final thoughts on solar panel warranties

Trying to find a good warranty can seem like a grueling process, but here are a few key things to keep in mind in your search:

  • The lower the degradation rate on your panels, the better!

  • Standard product warranties last 10-15 years, but some premium panels can go as high as 20 to 25 years.

  • Standard performance warranties last 25 years, but some are seen to go up to 30 years.

  • The better the warranty offer, the higher the solar panel quality!

Any reputable solar installer will sell panels with top-notch warranties and go above and beyond the industry standard. Find a solar installer near you – put your information into our solar calculator to find all the top-rated companies in your area!

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Written by Jamie Smith Content Specialist

Jamie is a Content Writer and researcher at SolarReviews. A recent graduate of La Salle University in Philadelphia, Jamie earned her B.S. in communications with a concentration in journalism, mass media, and public relations. Jamie has previously worked at a marketing company where she had the opportunity to highlight and promote small business owners through long-form stories and interviews. With a deep-rooted passion for creativity, Jamie stri...

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