🌞 Understand Solar Panel Warranties: Performance vs. Product | Topproperty
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🌞 Understand Solar Panel Warranties: Performance vs. Product

Simon Whitlock
6 Mins Read

If you buy a solar power generating system, you have a lot of money invested in it. The warranties that go with the system, which are designed to protect that investment, might be confusing. There is one distinction that might not be obvious, a sleight of hand that could have the most profound impact on your rights as a buyer of solar panels. Let’s try and bring a little sunshine to that distinction in solar panel warranties that could leave you in the shade.

The most common trap is the difference between ‘performance’ warranties and ‘product’ warranties (or even worse, the omission of these all-important terms altogether). Let’s say you’ve been promised an excellent solar power system with a 25-year warranty. Great, right? But what if this warranty covers, not the product, but only the system’s performance?

Here’s how it usually goes: Three years into the system, a panel is not performing correctly. You call the provider to claim your warranty. They will tell you: ‘Our warranty guarantees performance, not the hardware.’ This gives them the ability to argue that it is something external to the panel or something else in the system that is affecting its performance, not necessarily the panel itself. And, if they believe the problem is related to performance factors, they might deny you a replacement for a non-performing panel.

And what is even worse is that a pure performance warranty doesn’t help much with components that have broken down completely. If a panel has stopped generating electricity, then a ‘more efficient bulb’ or some minor repairs that don’t get to the root of the problem aren’t really the solution – you’re trying to fix the leaky dam with tape!

So, what can you do to stop yourself from falling into this trap? Here are a few steps to help ensure that you’re actually covered: Know the difference between a product warranty and a performance warranty: The former protects you against defects or failures in the physical product you’ve bought. The latter promises that the product will perform to a certain standard over time, but it doesn’t usually cover outright failures.

The Fine Print: Read the fine print of the warranty carefully. Look for how long the product warranty is – at least 10 years, if possible; and what is covered in terms of performance – how much output can you expect over time? What is considered normal in terms of reduction in performance?

Ask questions When the salesperson starts talking about the warranty, interrupt and ask them to explain what it covers. Is it the performance? The product? Both? You’ll avoid a lot of heartburn if you find out up-front.

Document Everything: Keep all receipts and warranty documentation you receive along with your equipment. In the event of a dispute, a written statement of what is covered by the warranty can be invaluable.

The takeaway is that, while solar PV systems can be a wonderful environmental and fiscal choice, the associated warranties can be riddled with fine print meant to protect the seller far more than the buyer. Being aware of these potential shady tactics can help you make a wise decision that ensures your solar panels serve you well for many decades to come. By following these guidelines, your solar investment will provide years of benefits without undue concern over its longevity or operation. Knowledge is power, and that especially goes for solar power systems.

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