Solar Warranties and Production Guarantees: 4 essential protections…

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Solar warranties and solar production guarantees are important considerations for property owners when deciding on the system and the companies standing behind them.

The installation and equipment components of a solar electric system should be covered by a comprehensive warranty against workmanship issues or equipment breakdown for a minimum of 25 years. These are the first two essential protections. Pretty amazing to find warranties lasting for 25 years. Yet in the solar industry, this is the gold standard.

One important consideration is to understand who is behind the warranty being offered. If that supplier or installer is not large, well established or financially secure, they may not be around to support the warranty over the next 25 years.

In the case of equipment warranties, ensure that if replacement is required that the labor to do so is covered by the warranty. Look for terms like ‘limited’ or ‘prorated’ which could indicate that you may be on the hook for some of the costs if a problem occurs in the future.

Equipment manufacturers often require that after installation the new owner registers their equipment. This will ensure that the warranty begins on the date of installation instead of the date of manufacture, as this is likely months, even a year earlier. Manufacturers will also provide the owner with other incentives to register, in some cases offering 2x the warranty period.

These warranties will also extend to any subsequent owners of the same property, if it is within the original warranty period. An owner cannot move equipment to a new property or the warranty will be void.

Installation work must be undertaken by qualified, licensed contractors in order for the equipment to be warranted. The contractor installing the solar system must perform, or authorize subcontractors to perform, any subsequent repairs on the system or the warranty will be void. This means no DIY work by the owner!

Normal wear and tear, damage from snow and ice, contact by tree branches, objects or people falling, animals, insect or mold, extreme weather events like lightning, tornados, hurricanes or earthquakes, or fire, floods, riots, wars and vandalism are not covered by the warranty. The owner should ensure that they have adequate protection against these possible causes through their property insurance coverage.

There are advantages to having roof repairs completed under the same contract as the solar installation. In this way, the leak-proof roof penetration warranty applies not only to the rack fastening points, but to the entire roof area repaired. This third essential protection should also last for 25 years, but beware.

Having a contractor install solar after and independent of the roof repair may cause the roof repair warranty to be voided. Best to check with the roofing contractor before repairs are performed to understand the impact on the warranty of having solar installed afterward.

Solar panels will have a production performance guarantee. This is the minimum percentage of the original power output observed after 1 year and each year thereafter up to 25 or 30 years. And this is the fourth essential protection property owners should seek.

Should there be a problem, the manufacturer will have the option to replace the underperforming panel(s) or make financial restitution to the owner for the difference in actual power produced and the minimum guaranteed amount.

Review the manufacture’s clauses with respect to transportation and labor costs covered when changing out panels. Installation of a replacement panel does not reset the guarantee period. It will continue on under the original schedule.

Remember that the time to review and question the installation, roof penetration and equipment solar warranties, as well as the solar production guarantees, is before you execute the contract. There is always the option to look at different installers and equipment until you find the particular system that meets with your satisfaction.

You are in charge, take your time and shop around!

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