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Understanding Solar Warranties

Understanding Solar Warranties

Given the recent ups and downs in the stock market, there is truly no better time to invest in your future with solar. Many potential solar customers are doing their homework by learning about the types of panels and companies that sell and install them. But understanding solar warranties, what they are, who provides them, how they work, and what is covered can be exhausting. Since understanding them is crucial in your decision, let’s break down the basics. The different solar warranty types include:

  • Manufacturer warranties (includes both performance and product)
  • Labor and shipping warranties
  • Workmanship warranties
  • Roof penetration warranties
  • Inverter warranties

What is the manufacturer’s warranty?

A manufacturer’s warranty is provided to the customer directly from the company that manufactured the solar panels. Depending on the type of solar PV purchased (low to high end), and the manufacturer, these warranties range from 10-25 years. Manufacturer warranties cover both performance (production guarantee) and product.

What is a performance warranty (production guarantee)?

The manufacturer’s production guarantee is designed to protect customers from solar panels that fail or degrade too quickly. Performance warranty ensures customers get a minimum of 25 years of solar production. Equipment is lab tested and given a degradation value; this rating shows how quickly a panel should decrease in production each year. The best solar PV on the market will maintain about 90% of their original output in year 25, while lower-end PV will be closer to 80%. Many other factors will contribute to your overall production, such as the orientation of your roof, shade exposure, and weather. Speak with a provider that can build a custom system that will take all these factors into account. Maximum production over your panel’s lifetime will provide you with the best return on your solar investment.

What is the product warranty?

A manufacturer’s product warranty covers the aesthetics of the panels themselves. This warranty protects the customer from issues relating to manufacturing defects or malfunction caused by environmental problems. Before leaving the manufacturer, equipment goes through extensive testing to ensure it lasts longer than your warranties. However, a product warranty gives reassurance should you need to replace materials and components in the future. Standard panels typically come with a 10 to 12-year warranty, whereas premium panels come with a 25-year warranty.

What is a labor and shipping warranty?

Labor and shipping warranties from reputable panel manufacturers are some of the best coverage you can get in the industry. This warranty covers labor and shipping if a panel needs replacement. While the manufacturer’s performance and product warranties cover material and parts, they do not include the labor fees for the technician to come out. A good labor warranty will save you in the long run, but not every contractor or installer offers one. If an installer states they have a labor warranty, you will want to make sure that they will be in business over the life span of your solar panels to service them or that warranty will be null and void. Premium installers of Panasonic and LG, like Elevation, will automatically provide this labor and shipping warranty for their customers since it is offered directly from the manufacturer. There are typically only a few installers with this status in each state.

What is a workmanship warranty?

This warranty comes from your installer and is sometimes called an “installation or service” warranty. Many customers will interpret this to include all labor, although this is typically not the case. A workmanship warranty covers any defects caused by installation issues. These warranties can range in length, the most common is 10 years, and some may offer up to 25 years. In rare cases, contractors like Elevation offer a lifetime workmanship warranty. But be aware that not all installation companies provide this warranty.

What is a roof penetration warranty?

The roof penetration warranty, provided by your installer, is put in place to protect a customer from leaks in their roof. Roof penetrations are necessary to secure the mounts and racking to the truss of your roof. A qualified installer will seal these penetrations and use equipment designed to keep your home free from leaks. Most solar companies offer a 10-year roof penetration warranty so you can have peace of mind that your panels are secure, and your roof is perfectly functional.

What is an inverter warranty?

A warranty from the inverter manufacturer covers the inverter’s capacitors and other computer components should they fail. There are two common types of inverters, string, and micro. String inverters (inverters that link all the panels together to convert the DC energy from the sun to AC energy to be used by the house) are usually less expensive and typically have up to a 10-year warranty. Microinverters (a mini inverter attached to each panel) are more costly, but because they are smaller and built to stand the test of time, they usually boast closer to a 25-year warranty. Ensure your solar design investigates which type of inverter is best for your home based on your roof design and geographical location.

What does this all mean for you?

Make sure you know and understand what warranties your solar provider offers before you commit to going solar. At Elevation, we think this education is vital to each buyer. That is why we are passionate about the type of panels and warranties we offer. Elevation provides the best equipment with the most reliable warranty coverage available to protect your investment. In addition to partnering with the best manufacturers, we offer a LIFETIME workmanship warranty. With a little bit of knowledge, you can feel confident navigating solar and achieving the best investment return for decades to come.

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