The ultimate guide to solar panel warranties
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!
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.
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.
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 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!
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.
To better understand what a good solar panel warranty looks like, we picked five of the top warranties on the market today.
This California-based company, founded in 1985, landed the #3 spot on our list of top solar panel brands in 2023, and it’s pretty clear why we chose them. Sunpower’s Complete Confidence warranty offer is unmatched and provides top-tier coverage for customers.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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:
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!