What to Know About a Solar Panel Warranty

Like most technology products that you buy, solar panels come with warranties that help safeguard your investment in the unlikely event that a problem occurs after installation. When evaluating a solar panel warranty and its manufacturer, the two most important factors on which you should focus are:

1. Product (or materials) warranty, and
2. The performance warranty

We’ll address both of these in this article as we break down our process for finding the best solar warranties offered by manufacturers.

What is a solar panel product warranty?

A solar panel’s product warranty covers the integrity of the panel itself, and protects you against failures due to manufacturing defects, environmental issues, premature wear and tear, etc. Most solar panel manufacturers warrant that their panels will not fail for at least the first 10-12 years, and some extend their solar panel warranty periods even longer than that. As with most warranties, a longer period is generally more advantageous to you, if you own your solar panel system.

Why Does a Solar Panel’s Warranty Matter?  

If you install a solar PV system for your home or business, by far your most likely scenario is that your panels will perform trouble-free for decades. But problems do occur from time to time, so if you happen to experience a problem with a solar panel after it’s been installed, it’s important for you to understand that the rest of your system will not be rendered inoperable—not by a long shot. In all likelihood, depending on the nature of the panel failure, the rest of your system will just continue running with the failed panel left in place. But occasionally, panels fail in ways that impact the performance of neighboring panels. In either case, it’s the solar panel’s product warranty that will cover you if you ever need to get a bad panel swapped out for a new one.  A point to note, the cost of a single solar panel generally ranges from $150 to $300.

Evaluating and comparing the product warranty coverage of panel manufacturers can help assure you that your service and support needs will be covered if a solar panel problem ever occurs. Manufacturers’ product warranties are therefore an important complement to other considerations in assessing not only a panel manufacturer’s technical specifications, but also its business practices. In case a solar panel fails, the manufacturer will ship you a replacement panel and in some cases, even pay for shipping cost and labor cost to replace it.

How the Top Solar Panel Manufacturers Stack Up


The Exhibit 1 below summarizes the product warranty duration for the leading manufacturers who sell solar panels in the U.S. as of 2016. Most manufacturers offer a 10-year product warranty from the date of installation. Only SunPower offers a product warranty of 25 years. On the other hand, only Hyundai seems to offer just a 6-year product warranty for its panels.

Exhibit 1:  Solar Panel Product Warranty by Manufacturer

 

Duration of Product Manufacturer Warranty

Solar Panel Manufacturer

5 Years

10 Years

12 Years

25 Years

Amerisolar
Axitec*
Canadian Solar

Centrosolar

China Sunergy

ET Solar

Green Brilliance
Hanwha 
Hyundai

Itek

KYOCERA Solar

LG
REC Solar

ReneSola

Renogy Solar 

Seraphim

Silevo

Silfab
SolarWorld
Stion
SunEdison/MEMC  √
Suniva

SunPower

Trina Solar





Don



2.  What is Solar Panel Performance Warranty?
The amount of electricity a solar panel produces declines slightly every year. That’s true of all solar panels, but to varying degrees. A common practice in the solar energy industry is to guarantee that the panels will not lose more than 10%-20% of their power output capacity over the first 25 years and is a crucial benefit of a good solar panel warranty. Said another way, panel manufacturers generally guarantee that their panels will produce electricity at 80%-90% of their power output rating at the end of 25 years.

Why does a solar panel warranty matter?  How it impacts your PV system


A solar PV system represents a multi-decade investment. Your return on that investment is directly related to the amount of electricity your solar energy system generates year-after-year. The electricity generated by your solar panel system allows you to either buy little or no electricity from your utility. The less energy your solar system produces, the greater your dependence on the utility. It’s a zero-sum game. If the panels in your solar system degrade quickly over time, then you’ll derive less long-term value from your system than if your panels degraded more slowly.

Performance warranty coverage is yet another indicator of a panel manufacturer’s service and support policies in the event that you ever encounter a problem with your solar system. Whereas product warranty issues are fairly straightforward to demonstrate (either your panel is working or it’s not), proving that you’re experiencing a panel performance problem that should be covered by warranty can be far more subtle, the reasons for which are beyond the scope of this brief article. Suffice it to say that higher 25-year performance warranties (i.e., slower degradation) are viewed more favorably than lower performance warranties, but as a practical matter the performance warranty may be a better indicator of a panel’s intended degradation behavior than of its manufacturer’s support practices. If your solar panels degrades faster than what the warranty specifies, the manufacturer will either repair the solar panel or provide you with a replacement panel. Some manufacturers even pay to ship the solar panel to you and labor cost to replace the panel.

How the Top Solar Panel Manufacturers Stack Up


The Exhibit 2 below summarizes the 25-year performance warranties for the leading manufacturers who sell solar panels in the U.S. market.  As you can see, most manufacturers warranty a 80% performance output after 25 years, with some manufacturers doing somewhat better than that.

Exhibit 2:  Solar Panel Performance Warranty by Manufacturer

 Solar Panel Manufacturer

25-Year Performance Warranty

Amerisolar

80.6%

Axitec*

85.0%

Canadian Solar

83.0%

Centrosolar

80.2%

China Sunergy

80.7%

ET Solar

81.9%

Green Brilliance

80%

Hanwha SolarOne

82.0%

Hyundai

80.0%

Itek

80.0%

KYOCERA Solar

80.0%

LG

83.6%

REC Solar

80.2%

ReneSola

80.0%

Renogy Solar 

80.0%

Seraphim

80.7%

Silevo

80.2%

Silfab

92.0%

SolarWorld

86.85%

Stion

80.0%

SunEdison/MEMC

80.0%

Suniva

80.2%

SunPower

87.0%

Trina Solar

82.5%

To learn more about solar panel products and performance warranties as well as other criteria to evaluate solar panels, see our research on how to select solar panels.





Don



11 thoughts on “What to Know About a Solar Panel Warranty

  1. SunMan

    If the Solar Panel is rated 300 watts. Does it mean it will generate 300 watts per hour? please explain what is the time frame for generating 300 watts if everything else remain the same.

    Reply
  2. matersonne

    This is good because the energy-saving devices consume less electricity, which means spending on the workings of electricity is much less and pay accordingly.

    Reply
  3. Hugh Jo

    The solar cell is the heart of any panel. A strong panel is a misdirect. Because the damage to the cell is practically invisible. Don’t pay attention to companies showing how indestructible their panels are…they are trying to get you to focus on the wrong feature.

    99% of all manufacturers just glue a metal paste on top of their solar cell. This is their circuitry. Shading the cell and exposing the fragile paste to severe temperature swings. This is the main reason solar panels fail. On top of that due to it’s toxicity expensive to recycle and has the shortest lifespan. Hence 10 year warranty.

    If you want to see the latest technology where a copper plate on the backside of the cell is practically impervious to temperature swings. Non-toxic and 100% recyclable. 25 year product, production and labor warranty.

    If you want to see why most cells fail, see my videos on cell breakage: http://www.facebook.com/hjosolar

    Reply
  4. Jason

    I see the first comment was from a year and a half ago….when was the last time this article was updated?
    I ask because Sunedison panels have a 25 year warranty, though they are ‘marked’ as a 10-year.
    I also do not see Silfab panels on the list, nor do I see Panasonic.
    Which Solarworld panels have a 25 year hardware warranty? (they are marked as both 10 AND 25)
    I think you should have 2 separate tables – one for ‘standard’ panels, and one for “premium” panels.
    I.E. the ones with the 30-year production warranty. (Silfab SLA-X, CS6 Dymond from Canadian Solar, Solarworld Protect, and Trina Duomax PG-05.)

    Thanks for the clarification!

    Reply
    1. Sara Matasci

      Hey Jason,
      Thanks for your comment – we actually just updated this post to reflect product and production warranties for 2016. Hope you find it useful.

      Sara
      Content Specialist @ EnergySage

      Reply
  5. Leo

    You say that SunPower is the only one that offers a 25 year product warranty and then on the chart you have that SolarWorld also has a 25 year product warranty. I’ve looked at SolarWorld’s warranties and it looks to me like all of their panels only come with a 10 year product warranty. Could you update that?

    Also, I think that Hyundai actually has a 10 year product warranty, according to the warranty that I read, If you could verify and update that as well that would be great. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. LK

      No offense but this chart seems useless as I do some fact checking. AmeriSolar’s warranty is 12 years, not 25 years. And again, you contradict yourself when you say that SunPower is the only one with a 25 year product warranty and then the chart says otherwise.

      AmeriSolar’s warranty:
      http://www.weamerisolar.com/pdf/01.pdf

      Reply
      1. Sara Matasci

        Hi Leo,
        Thanks for pointing out the error – we’ve updated the table to reflect the correct product warranty and double-checked all of our entries for good measure!

        Sara
        Content Specialist @ EnergySage

        Reply
  6. Pingback: To be Solar, or not to be? Part 2: What solar panels should I choose? – Enjeux énergies et environnement

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