If you’ve already started exploring your inverter options, you may have noticed that many products come with a 25-year warranty. However, simply comparing the length of one warranty term to the next doesn’t give you a full picture: what is and isn’t included in a warranty differs quite a bit from one inverter company to the next. And considering how important a solar inverter is to the functionality of your system, you want to make sure you’re covered in case anything goes awry.
In this article, we’ll review the most important aspects of a solar inverter warranty, and discuss what’s standard for the industry.
- Inverter warranties vary by manufacturer and type of inverter
- A standard inverter warranty should come with at least 10 years of protection
- Typically, inverter warranties won’t reimburse any labor costs associated with installing new equipment, but many popular inverter companies cover shipping fees for new equipment
- Visit the EnergySage Marketplace to compare solar inverter options
Solar inverter warranties at a glance
|Category||Industry Standard (string inverter)||Industry Standard (string + power optimizers)||Industry Standard (microinverters)|
|Product||10-15 years||10-15 years for inverter, 25 years for power optimizers||25 years|
|Shipping of parts||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Limitations and exceptions||Variable||Variable||Variable|
|Warranty fulfillment & manufacturer reputation||Variable||Variable||Variable|
Industry standard: depends on the type of inverter; most string inverter technologies come with a warranty between 10-15 years, while module level power electronics (like microinverters and power optimizers) often have 25-year warranties. If you install a string + power optimizer solution, your string inverter and power optimizers often come with different warranty terms.
Also known as a materials warranty, an inverter product warranty covers the integrity of the equipment itself. If your solar inverter has a defect, mechanical issue, or experiences unreasonable wear and tear, that’s where your product warranty comes into play.
As you’re shopping around for the right inverter solution, expect each one to come with a product warranty, and of course, longer product warranties are more favorable. Most inverter manufacturers offer at least 10 years of coverage under a product warranty, and those that don’t offer 25 years of coverage often have an option to extend the warranty for an additional price.
Module level power electronics (MLPEs) like microinverters or power optimizers typically have 25 year warranties. This means that if you install a SolarEdge string + power optimizer system, the individual components usually have two different product warranty terms: 10-15 years for the string inverter, and 25 years for the power optimizers.
Inverter replacement: what happens if your product is no longer available?
Let’s say you have a solar inverter that dies after nine years – inverter technology continues to advance, and by then, your manufacturer will probably have a brand new product stock. Will they be able to replace your broken inverter?
Many companies will keep older products in stock for a good amount of time, or will otherwise offer to replace your inverter with a comparable, recent option. Alternatively, some manufacturers guarantee that they will provide a refund on the off chance that they can’t replace your product.
Labor for diagnostics, repairs or replacements
Industry standard: most manufacturers do not cover labor costs as a part of their warranty agreement.
Like we mentioned above, all solar inverter manufacturers these days should cover a replacement inverter if you need it during their warrantied term. However, while the manufacturer may cover your replacement part, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll cover the labor costs necessary to re-install that equipment. In fact, most manufacturers do not reimburse for labor associated with replacements or repairs of their products.
Depending on the installer you move forward with, this addition–or omission–to a warranty could be moot: some local installation companies will cover maintenance and repair costs within their own workmanship warranty. However, like with equipment, installer warranties vary from one company to the next, and often only cover their own installation work – not maintenance costs for properly-installed equipment.
While most manufacturers won’t pay for labor, some do! Inverter companies with outstanding warranties may cover these costs entirely, or up to a certain amount (i.e., all labor costs up to $500). You’ll find that sometimes, inverter companies will pay for these costs by providing the company that performs the repair (i.e. your installer, or another certified contractor in their network) a rebate or check, rather than reimbursing you directly.
Comparing product and power warranty terms: the EnergySage Buyer’s Guide
SolarEdge or Enphase – which is right for you? Using the EnergySage Buyer’s Guide, you can compare the warranties, performance, and aesthetics of top solar inverters. There’s a lot in there, so we recommend using the filter and sorting functionalities to find the right inverter for you.
Shipping of parts
Industry standard: many of the top inverter companies–including SolarEdge, Enphase, and SMA–will cover shipping costs for valid replacement or repair claims.
Say your solar inverter breaks, and you can get a free replacement under your manufacturer’s material warranty – but what about shipping that part to you?
Fortunately, the top inverter manufacturers like Enphase, SolarEdge, and SMA cover shipping costs for replacement equipment as part of their warranty agreement, so long as the “claim is justified”, meaning they’ve confirmed it’s a reasonable claim, and you followed the proper return merchandise authorization–or RMA–process. However, you may have to pay a shipping tax under certain circumstances.
Industry standard: most solar inverter manufacturers leave workmanship warranties to the installer.
More often than not, solar installers are the sole party responsible for providing workmanship–or labor–warranties for your solar installation – they’re performing the actual installation work, after all! However, it’s becoming increasingly common for manufacturers to offer an extra safeguard by tacking on their own workmanship warranty coverage. When applicable, it’s typically only an option if you work with specific installers in a manufacturer’s certified network: they’re putting their brand name and reputation behind their work, and want to make sure they can stand by the installer performing the installation.
Limitations and exceptions
Industry standard: every warranty–including solar inverter warranties–has limitations and exceptions.
It probably doesn’t surprise you to hear that inverter warranties come with limitations and exceptions. These limitations aren’t meant to make it difficult for you or other customers to take advantage of the offering; at the end of the day, companies need to protect themselves from unreasonable claims.
Warranty limitations and void clauses vary from company to company, but here are a few to keep an eye out for:
- Transferability: If someone buys your home, will you be able to transfer the warranty over to them? Will you have to pay a fee to transfer the warranty?
- Installer endorsement: Do you need to work with a certified installer to take advantage of the warranty offering? If someone outside of their network repairs your system, does that void your warranty claim? Is the warranty void if you perform a DIY installation?
- Re-installing equipment: Are you moving, and want to take your solar panel system with you? This isn’t common, but keep in mind that if you move your equipment and re-install solar inverters in a new location, it’ll likely void your warranty.
- Wire and cable coverage: look for mentions of wires and cables in your terms. Many companies don’t provide warranty coverage for these – even if they supply that equipment!
- Acts of nature: this is a common one – most inverter manufacturers will not cover any damage caused by extreme weather events outside of their control, such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, etc. Fortunately, solar panel systems are pretty durable and can withstand most storms without the added protection. Even better, should damage happen to occur during a storm, many homeowner insurance policies cover solar panel systems–including inverters.
Warranty fulfillment & manufacturer reputation
Industry standard: there really isn’t one! Reputation and warranty fulfillment standards/processes vary from company to company.
Let’s say you need to submit a warranty claim – how easy is it to do so? And can the manufacturer stand by their warranty?
When comparing one solar inverter warranty to another, also consider the following:
- How old is the company providing the warranty? Is it a bankable company, and do they have their own insurance policies or escrow that ensure their warranties will be upheld even if they go out of business?
- Who is on the hook for actually fulfilling the warranty? Does the manufacturer have a parent company or subsidiary who backs the warranty? Do they process claims internally?
- How easy is it to make a warranty claim? Does the manufacturer allow you (the product owner) to submit the claim directly, or do you need to contact your installer to do so? Does your installer need to come out to your property and perform a diagnostic assessment prior to submitting any claims? Do you need to ship the defective product back to the manufacturer – and if so, will they cover those shipping costs?
Unfortunately, answers to the questions above can’t always be found in warranty documents. But we’ve started publishing some manufacturer and warranty reviews that answer these questions for top manufacturers! Your installer can also be an invaluable resource for inside scoops on warranty claims.
Remember: inverter solutions can have multiple components, and multiple warranties!
What we’ve discussed in this article relates specifically to the warranties of inverters and power optimizers; however, your inverter package may include some additional equipment, such as a monitoring system, smart energy products, and more. These will most likely have different levels of coverage than the main inverter product, so keep an eye out for that when reviewing warranty terms.
The best way to compare solar inverter options – warranties and all!
The key to finding the right solar panel system for your home is comparing multiple quotes from solar installers. Using the EnergySage Marketplace, you can find local solar installers near you, and make easy side-by-side comparisons of all your solar options, including equipment. By shopping around first, you can find the right option at the right price. If you have a preference for one type of equipment over another, simply note it in your account when you sign up so installers can quote you accordingly.