So, you've made the fantastic decision to invest in solar panels for your home or business – congratulations! But like with any investment, things can sometimes go wrong.
That's why it's important to understand solar panel warranties and what they cover.
In this article, we'll cover everything you need to know about solar panel warranties, including what they are, what they cover, and how to make a warranty claim.
What is a Solar Panel Warranty?
A solar panel warranty is a guarantee that covers the repair or replacement of defective materials or workmanship for a certain period of time after installation.
Solar warranties typically have three components: solar panel product warranty, solar panel performance warranty and installation warranty.
Solar Panel Product Warranty
A solar panel product warranty guarantees that the solar panel is free from defects. Here are some common defects that might occur.
These are small, often invisible cracks in the solar cells caused by mechanical stress during manufacturing, transportation, or installation.
When the protective layers of the solar panel go their separate ways, leaving the solar cells exposed to moisture and other environmental baddies.
Hotspots can develop when a part of a solar cell generates excessive heat due to factors like partial shading, dirt accumulation, or cell damage.
Most solar panel product warranties range from 10 to 15 years, with some companies offering even longer warranties. Solar panels also typically last longer than that.
Defects are generally quite rare if you go with a reputable "Tier 1" solar panel.
Product Warranty Exclusions
While the product warranty generally offers protection against defects in materials and workmanship, there are certain exclusions that manufacturers typically do not cover.
These exclusions are meant to protect manufacturers from claims arising due to improper handling, installation, or usage of solar installation.
- Misuse: If the solar panels are used in a manner that is inconsistent with the guidelines of the solar manufacturer or industry standards, the warranty may not apply. This includes using the panels in extreme environmental conditions, for which they were not designed, or applying excessive force or pressure on them.
- Abuse: Deliberate acts of damage or vandalism that result in harm to the solar installation may void the warranty. For example, if the panels are intentionally damaged or tampered with, the manufacturer will not be responsible for repairs or replacement.
- Neglect: Failure to properly maintain the pv system, such as not cleaning them regularly, can lead to reduced performance and potential damage.
- Accidents: If the solar panels are damaged due to an accident, such as a falling tree branch or a severe storm, the warranty may not cover the cost of repairs or replacement.
- Alterations: Any modifications or alterations made to the solar panels without the panel manufacturer's consent may void the warranty.
Solar Panel Performance Warranty
A solar panel performance warranty, also known as a power output warranty, is a guarantee provided by the solar panel manufacturer that the panel will maintain a certain level of efficiency and power output over a specified period.
This warranty ensures that the solar panel will continue to perform at a high level throughout its expected lifespan, which is typically 25 to 30 years.
The performance warranty usually covers a gradual decline in the panel's power output over time, as solar panels naturally degrade and lose efficiency.
Most leading manufacturers now offer a 25-year performance warranty. This means they guarantee the performance output after 25 years will not be lower than 80-80% (Depending on the manufacturer).
It is essential to note that the performance warranty only covers the power output and efficiency of the solar panel under standard test conditions.
The solar company provides a workmanship warranty, also known as an installation warranty, to guarantee that they have carried out the installation process correctly and professionally.
This warranty typically lasts from 1 to 10 years, depending on the solar retailer and the agreement's specific terms.
Throughout the warranty period, the installation warranty provides customers with confidence that their solar system operates effectively and adheres to high industry standards.
The installation warranty covers:
- Workmanship quality: The warranty ensures that the solar panels and associated equipment have been mounted, wired, and connected correctly, in adherence to the relevant regulations and industry standards.
- Structural integrity: The installation warranty guarantees that the mounting structure and other supporting elements have been installed correctly and securely, maintaining the overall structural integrity of the solar panel system.
- Solar system performance: The warranty ensures that the solar panel system generates the anticipated amount of energy and functions efficiently without any significant issues resulting from installation errors.
- Repairs and adjustments: If installation errors cause any problems or malfunctions, the warranty covers the cost of repairs, adjustments, or replacements needed to rectify the issue.
It is important to note that the installation warranty does not cover damages caused by external factors such as extreme weather events, accidents, or vandalism.
To ensure the longevity and optimal performance of a solar panel system, homeowners should thoroughly research and select an experienced, reputable installation company that offers a comprehensive installation warranty.
Breakdown of common causes of solar panel problems
Inverter manufacturers usually recognise that the inverter is likely to stop working before the solar panels in your solar PV system.
Solar panel warranty and inverter warranty can be easy to confuse due to their interconnected roles.
Both components have warranties covering similar aspects, such as manufacturing defects and performance issues.
However, it is essential to understand the differences between the warranties to ensure proper maintenance and identify potential problems.
When diagnosing solar system issues, it's crucial to consider inverter-related problems since they may not necessarily originate from the solar panels.
Some common signs of inverter issues include:
- Reduced energy output: A sudden or gradual decrease in electricity generated by your solar system may indicate an inverter problem. In such cases, consulting the manufacturer or a professional technician to assess the situation is essential.
- Error codes or warning lights: Modern inverters usually have displays providing essential information about the system's performance. Any error codes or warning lights could indicate an inverter malfunction requiring attention.
- Unusual noises: Inverters are typically silent, so if you hear humming, buzzing, or clicking sounds, it could indicate a problem with the inverter's internal components.
- System shutdowns or restarts: Frequent shutdowns or restarts of your solar energy system could indicate an inverter issue.
Remember that each component has specific warranty terms and conditions to avoid confusing solar panel warranty with inverter warranty.
Solar panel warranties cover photovoltaic modules and their performance, while inverter warranties focus on the inverter's functionality and efficiency.
How to Make a Warranty Claim
If you need to make a warranty claim, the first step is to contact the solar panel manufacturer or solar installer.
They will ask for documentation of the problem, such as photographs or a written description, and may send a technician to inspect the solar system.
If the problem is covered under warranty, the manufacturer or solar installer will arrange for repair or replacement.
Australian Consumer Law and Solar Panel Warranties
If you have a problem with your pv system, first try to talk to your solar retailer and see if they can fix it.
If they are part of the New Energy Tech group and you can't sort out the problem with them, you can tell the people in charge of the group by making a complaint.
If that doesn't work, you can tell your local consumer protection agency about your problem.
Solar Companies that sell solar power agreements need to have special permission because they are selling energy.
If you think the solar company you bought your agreement from doesn't have this permission, you should contact the Australian Energy Regulator.
Investing in solar panels can provide many benefits, but it's important to understand the warranties that come with them.
Solar panel warranties can provide peace of mind and protection in case something goes wrong.
Be sure to read the terms and conditions of your warranty carefully and contact the solar manufacturers or solar retailers if you have any issues.
Remember that Australian Consumer Law also applies to solar panel warranties, and you have certain rights as a consumer.