Understanding Solar Panel Warranties and What They Cover in Repairs

Understanding Solar Panel Warranties and What They Cover in Repairs

Investing in solar panels is a significant financial commitment, and understanding solar panel warranties that comes with your purchase is crucial. Solar panel warranties can vary significantly between manufacturers, and knowing what is covered can help you protect your investment and ensure your system operates efficiently over its lifespan. This comprehensive guide will help you understand the different types of solar panel warranties, what they typically cover, and how they apply to repairs and maintenance.

Types of Solar Panel Warranties

Solar panel warranties generally fall into two main categories: performance warranties and product (or equipment) warranties. Each type of warranty covers different aspects of your solar energy system.

Performance Warranty

A performance warranty guarantees that your solar panels will produce a certain percentage of their rated power output over a specified period. This type of warranty is crucial because solar panels naturally degrade over time, producing less electricity as they age. The performance warranty ensures that the degradation remains within acceptable limits.

Typical performance warranties guarantee that the solar panels will produce at least 80-90% of their original power output after 25 years. For example, a 25-year performance warranty might guarantee 90% of the original power output for the first 10 years and 80% for the remaining 15 years. If the panels fail to meet these performance benchmarks, the manufacturer may repair, replace, or compensate for the loss.

Product (Equipment) Warranty

A product warranty covers the physical integrity and workmanship of the solar panels. This warranty ensures that the panels are free from defects in materials and manufacturing processes. Product warranties typically last between 10 and 25 years, depending on the manufacturer and the quality of the panels.

If a solar panel fails due to a manufacturing defect or material flaw within the warranty period, the manufacturer will usually replace or repair the defective panel at no cost to the owner. This type of warranty is essential for protecting against unexpected failures that could disrupt the energy production of your solar system.

Coverage Details: What Solar Panel Warranties Typically Include

Understanding what is covered under your solar panel warranty is vital for ensuring you can make the most of your investment. Here are some common elements covered by solar panel warranties:

Defects in Materials and Workmanship

Both performance and solar panel warranties typically cover defects in materials and workmanship. This includes issues such as faulty soldering, defective glass, and problems with the encapsulation of the cells. If these defects cause a panel to fail or underperform, the manufacturer is responsible for addressing the issue.

Power Output Degradation

As mentioned earlier, performance warranties cover the gradual decline in power output that all solar panels experience over time. The warranty specifies acceptable degradation rates and ensures that the panels will produce a minimum percentage of their rated power output for a certain number of years. If the panels degrade faster than specified, the manufacturer must take corrective action.

Repair and Replacement Costs

Most solar panel warranties cover the costs associated with repairing or replacing defective panels. This includes the cost of the new panel, shipping fees, and sometimes labor costs for the removal and installation of the replacement panel. However, the extent of this coverage can vary, so it’s essential to read the warranty terms carefully.

Labor Costs

While some solar panel warranties include labor costs for solar panel repairs or replacements, others do not. It’s important to clarify whether your warranty covers the labor costs associated with servicing your solar panels. If labor costs are not covered, you may need to pay for the installation or repair work out of pocket.

Inverter Warranties

Inverters, which convert the direct current (DC) produced by solar panels into alternating current (AC) for use in your home, are often covered by separate warranties. Inverter warranties typically last between 5 and 15 years, though extended warranties may be available for an additional cost. Like solar panel warranties, inverter warranties cover defects in materials and workmanship and may also include performance guarantees.

Exclusions and Limitations

Solar panel warranties also come with exclusions and limitations that outline what is not covered. Common exclusions include:

  • Damage from External Factors: Warranties typically do not cover damage caused by external factors such as extreme weather events, fire, vandalism, or improper installation by unauthorized personnel.
  • Improper Maintenance: Failure to maintain your solar panels according to the manufacturer’s guidelines can void the warranty. This includes regular cleaning and inspections to ensure the panels are free from debris and damage.
  • Unauthorized Modifications: Any modifications or repairs not performed by authorized technicians can also void the warranty. It’s crucial to use certified professionals for any maintenance or repair work to keep your warranty intact.

How to File a Warranty Claim

If you encounter an issue with your solar panels that you believe is covered under warranty, follow these steps to file a warranty claim:

  1. Document the Issue

Before contacting the manufacturer or installer, document the problem with your solar panels. Take clear photos of any visible damage or defects and note any performance issues you have observed. This documentation will be useful when filing your claim.

  1. Review Your Warranty

Carefully review the terms of your warranty to ensure that the issue is covered. Pay attention to any exclusions or conditions that might affect your claim. This step will help you understand what to expect from the warranty process.

  1. Contact the Manufacturer or Installer

Reach out to the manufacturer or the company that installed your solar panels to initiate the warranty claim process. Provide them with the documentation you have gathered and explain the issue in detail. They will guide you through the next steps, which may include an inspection of your solar panels.

  1. Follow the Claim Process

Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer or installer to complete your warranty claim. This may involve filling out forms, providing additional documentation, or scheduling an inspection. Be sure to keep records of all communications and documentation related to your claim.

  1. Repair or Replacement

If your claim is approved, the manufacturer or installer will arrange for the repair or replacement of the defective panels. Depending on the terms of your warranty, this may include covering the costs of labor and shipping. Ensure that any repair or replacement work is performed by authorized technicians to maintain the validity of your warranty.

Benefits of Solar Panel Warranties

Solar panel warranties provide several benefits that help protect your investment and ensure the long-term performance of your solar energy system:

  1. Financial Protection

Warranties protect you from the financial burden of unexpected repairs or replacements due to manufacturing defects or premature performance degradation. This protection helps you avoid significant out-of-pocket expenses and ensures that your solar energy system remains cost-effective over its lifespan.

  1. Peace of Mind

Knowing that your solar panels are covered by a comprehensive warranty provides peace of mind. You can have confidence that any issues will be addressed promptly and professionally, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of solar energy without worrying about potential problems.

  1. Enhanced System Performance

Warranties encourage manufacturers to produce high-quality solar panels that are less likely to fail or underperform. By choosing panels with robust warranties, you can be assured of their quality and reliability. Additionally, the performance guarantees included in many warranties help ensure that your system will continue to generate the expected amount of electricity over time.

  1. Increased Property Value

A well-maintained solar energy system with a strong warranty can increase the value of your property. Prospective buyers will appreciate the added assurance that the solar panels are protected and will continue to perform efficiently. This can make your property more attractive to potential buyers and may lead to a higher resale value.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Solar Panel Warranty

When selecting a solar panel warranty, consider the following factors to ensure you are making an informed decision:

Warranty Duration – Look for warranties that offer long-term coverage, typically 25 years for performance warranties and 10-25 years for product warranties. Longer warranties indicate greater confidence from the manufacturer in the durability and performance of their panels.

Coverage Details – Carefully review the coverage details of each warranty, including what is covered and any exclusions or limitations. Ensure that the warranty covers key components such as the panels, inverters, and associated hardware. Also, check if labor costs for repairs and replacements are included.

Manufacturer Reputation – Choose solar panels from reputable manufacturers known for producing high-quality products and providing excellent customer service. Research customer reviews and industry ratings to gauge the reliability and trustworthiness of the manufacturer.

Transferability – If you plan to sell your property in the future, check whether the warranty is transferable to the new owner. Transferable solar panel warranties can increase the resale value of your property and provide added assurance to prospective buyers.

Customer Support – Evaluate the manufacturer’s customer support and responsiveness. A reliable manufacturer should provide prompt and helpful assistance with warranty claims and any other issues that may arise.

Installer’s Role – Consider the role of the installer in the warranty process. Some solar panel warranties are provided by the installer, while others are backed directly by the manufacturer. Ensure that your installer is reputable and experienced in handling warranty claims and providing ongoing support.

Common Misconceptions About Solar Panel Warranties

There are several misconceptions about solar panel warranties that can lead to confusion and unrealistic expectations. Here are some common myths and the truth behind them:

Myth: All Warranties Are the Same

Truth: Solar panel warranties can vary significantly between manufacturers in terms of coverage, duration, and conditions. It’s essential to carefully review and compare solar panel warranties to understand what is included and choose the best option for your needs.

Myth: Warranties Cover All Types of Damage

Truth: Warranties typically cover defects in materials and workmanship but do not cover damage caused by external factors such as extreme weather, fire, vandalism, or improper installation. Understanding these limitations is crucial for setting realistic expectations.

Myth: Warranties Include Routine Maintenance

Truth: Most solar panel warranties do not cover routine maintenance tasks such as cleaning and inspections. These tasks are the responsibility of the system owner tasks such as cleaning and inspections. These tasks are the responsibility of the system owner and are crucial for maintaining the efficiency and longevity of the solar panels. Regular maintenance helps ensure that the panels continue to operate at peak performance and remain covered under warranty.

Myth: Warranties Are Automatically Transferred to New Owners

Truth: While some solar panel warranties are transferable, not all are. The transferability of a warranty can depend on the manufacturer and specific terms of the warranty agreement. If you plan to sell your property, check whether the warranty can be transferred to the new owner, as this can enhance the property’s value.

Myth: Warranty Claims Are Always Approved

Truth: Not all warranty claims are approved. To have a claim approved, the issue must fall within the scope of the warranty coverage, and the system owner must have complied with the maintenance and usage guidelines outlined in the warranty. Proper documentation and adherence to the terms are critical for successful claims.

Case Studies: Real-World Examples of Solar Panel Warranty Claims

To provide a better understanding of how solar panel warranties work in practice, let’s look at some real-world examples of warranty claims and their resolutions.

Case Study 1: Panel Degradation

A homeowner noticed a significant drop in the energy production of their solar panels after ten years of use. The panels were supposed to maintain 90% of their original output for the first ten years but were producing only 75%. The homeowner filed a warranty claim with the manufacturer, providing performance data and inspection reports. After a thorough review, the manufacturer acknowledged the excessive degradation and replaced the underperforming panels at no cost to the homeowner, including the labor for removal and installation.

Case Study 2: Manufacturing Defect

A commercial property owner experienced issues with several solar panels not generating power. Upon inspection, it was discovered that there were manufacturing defects in the panel connectors, which caused electrical faults. The property owner contacted the manufacturer and filed a warranty claim. The manufacturer sent a representative to inspect the panels and confirmed the defects. The faulty panels were replaced under the product warranty, and the manufacturer covered all associated costs, including labor and shipping.

Case Study 3: Damage from External Factors

A homeowner’s solar panels were damaged by a severe hailstorm, resulting in cracked panels and reduced efficiency. The homeowner attempted to file a warranty claim, but the manufacturer denied it, citing that the damage was caused by an external factor (hail) and not covered under the warranty. The homeowner’s insurance policy, however, did cover weather-related damage, and the costs were reimbursed through the homeowner’s insurance provider.

Tips for Maximizing Warranty Benefits

To ensure you get the most out of your solar panel warranty, consider the following tips:

Read the Warranty Thoroughly

Understand the terms and conditions of your warranty, including what is covered, the duration of the coverage, and any exclusions or limitations. Knowing the details will help you manage your solar panels effectively and avoid actions that could void the warranty.

Keep Detailed Records

Maintain thorough documentation of all maintenance activities, inspections, and repairs. This includes receipts, reports, and any communications with the manufacturer or installer. Detailed records can support your warranty claims and demonstrate compliance with warranty conditions.

Use Authorized Technicians

Always use certified and authorized technicians for maintenance and repairs. Unauthorized work can void your warranty, leaving you unprotected. Ensure that any professional you hire is approved by the manufacturer.

Perform Regular Maintenance

Adhere to the manufacturer’s maintenance guidelines to keep your solar panels in optimal condition. Regular cleaning, inspections, and performance monitoring are essential for preventing issues and maintaining warranty coverage.

Address Issues Promptly

If you notice any issues with your solar panels, address them immediately. Delaying repairs can exacerbate problems and may result in damage not covered by the warranty. Prompt action helps ensure issues are resolved under warranty conditions.

Check Transferability

If you plan to sell your property, verify whether the warranty is transferable to the new owner. A transferable warranty can enhance the property’s value and provide reassurance to potential buyers.


Understanding solar panel warranties and what they cover in repairs is crucial for protecting your investment and ensuring the long-term performance of your solar energy system. Solar panel warranties typically include performance and product warranties, covering defects in materials and workmanship, power output degradation, and repair or replacement costs. However, they also come with exclusions and limitations that system owners must be aware of.

By carefully reviewing warranty terms, maintaining detailed records, using authorized technicians, performing regular maintenance, and addressing issues promptly, you can maximize the benefits of your solar panel warranty. These practices help ensure that your solar panels continue to operate efficiently and effectively, providing substantial financial and environmental benefits over their lifespan.

Investing in solar energy is a significant commitment, and understanding the protections offered by solar panel warranties can provide peace of mind and enhance the overall value of your investment. Whether you are a homeowner or a commercial property owner, taking the time to understand and utilize your solar panel warranty will help you achieve the full potential of your solar energy system.

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