Solar Power

Solar product warranties vs. workmanship warranties—what’s the deal?

This article is reposted with permission from Direct Energy Solar. See the original blog here

As you begin your search for photovoltaic installers, you’ll likely come across two similar-sounding concepts:

  1. Solar product warranties
  2. Solar workmanship warranties

But what do these two terms mean exactly? And how do they differ?

Solar product warranties defined

Solar product warranties are very similar to what you receive whenever you buy consumer goods like iPads, televisions or computers. In essence, the manufacturer guarantees that its product will not break for a set period of time.

But with most electronic products, the best you can hope for is about one year of coverage—maybe three years if you buy extended protection.

However, PV products work a little differently.

Because solar doesn’t have any moving parts, it is one of the most durable energy generation technologies in the world. Moreover, each component is rigorously tested before shipping to market.

As a result:

  • Most panel optimizers carry warranties ranging from 12 to 25 years (depending on the manufacturer). If anything happens, the original factory will replace the defective part free of charge.
  • Solar PV panels come with standard warranties of 25 years. Again, if anything happens, you receive a replacement part for free. However most panels last much longer—sometimes for as many as 40 years.

It’s important to note that all solar panels degrade with time—usually about 0.5% every year. This is why manufacturers only guarantee 80% performance or higher after 25 years.

Now let’s turn to the other type of warranty—the one that covers installation workmanship.

Solar workmanship warranties defined

Whereas product warranties protect you against component-related issues, workmanship warranties protect you from labor-related defects—e.g. those arising from the actual installation process.

This type of guarantee states that:

  • The design, assembly and installation are all done correctly
  • The system will perform as expected—without malfunction
  • Any defects that may arise will be fixed free of charge

Solar workmanship warranties vary depending on the installer. Some offer none, while others provide five years of continuous coverage.

At Direct Energy Solar, all installations come with 20-year workmanship warranties.

For truly worry-free solar protection, be sure to…

As a general rule, you should avoid any contractors who don’t provide both types of warranties—product and workmanship.

The longer the coverage, the better.

However, there is one final type of coverage that a select number of installers provide—a solar production guarantee.

With this type of protection, the installer promises that your system will deliver a predetermined amount of solar energy every billing cycle. If your installation ever falls below this threshold, the contractor will correct the problem—and even compensate you for any financial losses.

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