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Let’s talk grid-tie solar for a moment. Solar installation warranties are a hot topic, and yet the true information relative to solar panel warranties are often buried in the fine print, or easily misunderstood. The fact is, a solar panel’s warranty is only as good as the limited materials and workmanship warranty.
We have put together a solar panel warranty side-by-side comparison chart on the most popular monocrystalline solar panels on the market. The more you pay per watt, the better the long-term warranty guarantees. Most of the time. In some cases the allowable degradation rate in the later years of the warranty may be higher, despite a higher cost per watt.
Cost quotes for SolarWorld and SunPower are not published publicly, as these panels do not appear to be sold outside of full contractor installations. SunPower acquired SolarWorld Americas in spring 2018. SolarWorld solar panels have warranties comparable to that of LG and Panasonic. The SolarWorld Warranty has a limited materials and workmanship warranty of 20 years, and a 25 year performance warranty which states that output will not degrade more than 0.3% in the first year, and not more than .7% per year thereafter. SunPower Panel Warranty offers a full 25 year hassle-free warranty across the board, including all system installed components. Their performance guarantee is the best in the industry, with a max .25% annual decline in output such that in year 25, the panels are guaranteed to output 92% of their rated power, compared to approximately 80% for most other solar panels.
So why all the fuss on the “materials and workmanship” warranty? Is it that important? Absolutely. If the frame or other materials on the panels start to fail after its limited warranty period, you may experience dust, dirt, and moisture getting in behind the frames, which can negatively impact the panel output production. You would think that the performance warranty would have you covered there, but you would think wrong. If your manufacturer determines that the cause of the rate of degradation greater than expected is due to failure of the frame (aka materials and workmanship) after its initial warranty period, you are out of luck. Your 25 year system “warranty” just became a 10-12 year thing.
Bottom line – you need careful consideration and a balance between how much per watt you are willing to pay vs. for how long you desire a warranty on the panel’s frame, which is actually more important than the warranty on the power output!
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