Elements to Consider in a Solar Panel Warranty

There are several things you'll be thinking about as you move toward solar panel installation, and one of these is your warranty coverage. Warranties are important here just like they are for many other high-value items or services you're considering, and knowing what's covered versus what's not is a vital part of this conversation.

At Intermountain Wind & Solar, we're happy to discuss warranty coverage and many related forms of protection for any of your residential and commercial solar power needs. What are some of the key considerations to keep in mind as you evaluate your warranty coverage for any solar power system? Here's a general rundown.

Product Vs. Power Warranties

Within the solar realm, warranties generally fall into two broad categories:

  • Product warranties: Also sometimes called a materials warranty, this type of coverage protects you from defects or problems that occur with the physical product itself. This can include everything from the solar panels and inverter to mounts, racking, and other mechanical components. In most cases, such issues will be visible almost immediately, although some may not present themselves for years. Virtually all solar panels come with some level of product warranty from the manufacturer.
  • Power warranty: In addition, it's common to see power warranties that guarantee products won't degrade to below certain output thresholds over time. This is different from a product warranty in that it covers long-term output and performance, not just defects that might show up right away. Power warranties are often offered by solar panel manufacturers as an added layer of protection on top of the product warranty.

Now that you know these two broad warranty types, our next several sections will go over some themes they will often cover and how to consider them.


One of the single most important aspects of any warranty is its term, or the amount of time it lasts. With solar systems lasting decades, you'll want to be sure your warranty coverage extends for at least a good portion of that time.

The industry standard for product warranties on solar panels is 20-25 years, although some manufacturers may offer longer terms. Power warranties are often shorter, lasting 10-12 years on average.

Degradation Coverage

Another vital piece of any solar panel warranty is degradation coverage. Degradation, also called power loss or performance loss, refers to the gradual drop in output that solar panels experience over time as they age and weathering takes its toll.

Most manufacturers will offer protection against this through what's called a power warranty or a performance guarantee. These typically promise that your panels will retain a certain percentage of their original power output (often 80% or more) over the course of the warranty term.

Now, the specific thresholds used here are very important to pay attention to. In many cases, they will only cover a certain amount of degradation. For example, a panel with an 80% power output guarantee may only cover up to 5% degradation over 20 years. This means that if your panels lose more than that - say, 6% or 7% - you're on your own as far as the warranty is concerned.

It's also important to remember that degradation protection only applies to the panels themselves, not any other components in your system.

Shipping for Parts

If any parts are needed to fulfill a warranty claim, it's important to know who will be responsible for shipping them. In some cases, manufacturers may require you to pay for this up front and then reimburse you later. Others may include it in the cost of the warranty itself.

It's also not uncommon for manufacturers to require that panels be shipped back to them for inspection before replacements are sent out. This can obviously add considerable time and expense to the process, so it's something to be aware of.

Diagnostics and Labor

In many cases, solar panel warranties will also cover the cost of any diagnostics that need to be done to determine whether a problem is covered by the warranty or not. This can be important, as some issues may not be immediately apparent.

What's more, some manufacturers will also cover the cost of labor to replace panels or parts that are covered by the warranty. This obviously varies quite a bit, so it's something to pay attention to.


Generally speaking, solar installers are the only party responsible for workmanship warranties. These typically last for 1-2 years and cover any defects in the installation itself, such as faulty wiring or problems with the racking.

Keep in mind that workmanship warranties are different from product warranties, which are offered by the manufacturers of solar panels and other system components.

Limitation or Exception Areas

Finally, it's vital to consider a few limitations or exceptions that might be present on some warranties, as these can drastically impact your solar power plans:

  • Transferability: While most warranties allow you to transfer coverage to a new owner if you sell your home, some do not. This can obviously be a major issue if you plan on selling your home before the warranty expires.
  • Indemnification: Some warranties come with an indemnification clause, which essentially means that the manufacturer agrees to reimburse you for any legal fees or other costs that you incur as a result of a warranty claim. Others do not, leaving you to foot the bill yourself if things get ugly.
  • Acts of God: Many warranties include language exempting them from coverage in the event of an act of God, such as a hurricane or tornado. This obviously varies quite a bit, so it's something to be aware of if you live in an area that's prone to severe weather.

As you can see, there are quite a few things to consider when it comes to solar panel warranties. Be sure to do your homework and understand exactly what's covered before making any decisions.

For more on this, or to learn about any of our solar panel installations or related services, speak to the team at Intermountain Wind & Solar today.

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