Researching and comparing solar power systems can be a daunting and confusing process – especially when it comes to understanding the different warranties.
Solar panels have two different types of warranties: The Output Performance Warranty and the Manufacturer’s Product Warranty. They are VERY different.
Solar Panel Product Warranty
- The manufacturer’s product warranty is much more meaningful, important, and useful than the performance warranty.
- Ranges from 10-30 years.
The product warranty covers physical defects of manufacture including delamination, reduction in insulation resistance, frames falling off etc. The panel manufacturer’s product warranty is VERY different between the various manufacturers. Some panels have 10 years, some 15 and the industry leaders have 25-30 years product warranty. The wording and conditions of the manufacturer’s warranty will also vary greatly, so be sure to read the fine print and terms and conditions.
Just for reference – the solar panels that we install are the LG NeON H (which have replaced the discontinued LG NeON 2) and the REC Alpha Pure or TwinPeak 4. Both of these panels have a 25 year product warranty.
Solar Panel Performance Warranty
The solar panel performance warranty guarantees that the power output of the solar panels won’t decline beyond a certain amount.
It is the industry standard for solar panels to have a 25-year, 80% output performance warranty. To put it another way, a 25-year performance warranty is nothing special. All solar panels sold in Australia, both good and not-so-good, have this warranty.
There are a few solar panel manufacturers that guarantee performance for 30 years. However, just because they have a longer performance warranty, does not necessarily mean that they are a higher quality panel than other panels with a 25-year performance warranty.
BE WARY: This is the weakest warranty and the one that is least valuable to the homeowners. In the solar industry, many experts will consider the performance warranty to be practically worthless because it’s so hard to successfully claim. Not to mention it’s sometimes used as a marketing ploy to give the customer a false sense of confidence, similarly to the term Tier 1.
To help you with your research, we’ve done up a comparison graph of different solar panels that are commonly installed in Australia.
*The standard REC N-Peak product warranty is 20 years, however, when installed by a certified REC Professional (which Electrical Sensations are), there is an additional 5 years, taking it to a total of 25 years product warranty.
The Bottom Line
It is the industry standard for solar panels to have a 25-year, 80% output performance warranty (the least useful).
- A few manufacturers now offer 30 years, but most solar panels will have the standard 25 years performance warranty.
- The performance warranty can be very difficult to claim successfully.
The manufacturer’s product warranty is much more meaningful, important, and useful than the performance warranty.
- Depending on the manufacturer and the solar panel model, the product warranty typically varies between 10-25 years.
- Within the same manufacturer, the product warranty can vary depending on the module of the solar panel. A good example of this is LG. The NeON H (and the discontinued NeON 2) has a 25-year product warranty, while the Mono X has a 15-year product warranty.
Tips, Advice and Recommendations
- If a solar company is very vague about its warranty or does not mention the manufacturer’s product warranty at all, alarm bells should ring. Way too often, we get calls from people who say something along the lines of ‘I spoke to another company, and their system has a 25-year warranty…’ However, the reality is that the system they are talking about actually has a 25-year solar panel performance warranty (industry standard) and a 5-10 year solar panel product warranty. This is why it’s really important to ask your installers about the product warranty.
- Opt for solar panels with a higher product warranty.
- Always do your own research on the manufacturers and read their product warranty fine print – they will differ a lot between manufacturers.
A solar panel warranty is just one piece of the puzzle – a very important piece though! When choosing solar panels, you also need to take into consideration the efficiency of the panels, Australian support and the quality of the installation.