Solar Panel Warranty 101 (What to Know in 2023)

Solar Panel Warranty 101 (What to Know in 2023)

In this guide on solar panel warranties, you’ll learn:

  • What even are solar panel warranties and what do they cover?
  • Which solar manufacturers offer the best coverage?
  • Should you purchase an extended warranty?
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What Are Solar Panel Warranties?

Solar panel warranties protect you from things like panel damage and rapid degradation of your panel efficiency. Ultimately, they provide you with peace of mind for your solar investment and can save you money on repairs or replacements if you do run into any issues. Unfortunately, not all solar panel warranties are made equal, so it’s important to understand the coverage you’re getting, how it compares to the industry average and how helpful the protection plan will really be.

In this article, we’ll discuss what a solar panel warranty is, what it covers, common exclusions and more to help you fully understand what to expect from your warranty.

How Helpful Are Solar Panel Warranties?

Solar panel warranties should be a major consideration when choosing a panel brand and a solar panel installation company. They come in two main varieties—equipment warranties and production warranties—and both can save you quite a lot of money in the long run.

Equipment warranties can insulate you from repair or replacement costs for panels that fail due to manufacturing defects. The average panel replacement cost is around $1,064, assuming the average per-watt cost of $2.66 and the typical panel output of 400 watts. Repairs tend to cost between $500 and $750, but still, that’s an expense you don’t need after spending $20,000+ on your solar array.

Solar energy power output warranties help guarantee that your panels won’t rapidly lose efficiency, which would lead to lower and lower energy savings over time. The typical solar array pays for itself in around 12 years and provides energy savings of more than $22,000 over the next 13 years of expected panel life. If your efficiency drops too quickly, those savings will also plummet, and your panel payback period could even be longer than your panels will last in extreme cases.

Overall, panel warranties are helpful for saving money on repairs, replacements and energy bills, and they improve the value of your solar energy system overall. The peace of mind you get knowing your multi-thousand dollar renewable energy system is protected is also priceless.

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What Do Solar Panel Warranties Cover?

Warranties from panel manufacturers can include the following:

  • An equipment warranty, which protects against manufacturer defects and unexpected panel damage. This is standard for most panels.
  • An efficiency warranty, which provides a maximum degradation rate per year after installation. This is standard for most panels.
  • A labor warranty, which covers issues stemming from the installation process, as well as labor costs to correct the problem. This is common among companies that manufacture and install panels, like SunPower and Tesla.
  • A roof leak warranty, which covers damages caused by leaking at your roof penetration sites. This is far less common and is only provided by a handful of companies.

We’ll explain these warranty options and discuss what they specifically cover in the following sections.

Equipment Warranty

Equipment warranties mostly cover problems that stem from manufacturer defects. These include the following:

  • Solar panel hot spots
  • Total solar panel failure
  • Leaking voltage
  • Moisture or water damage to interior components
  • Cracks in the solar cells
  • Unexpected damage to protective materials
  • Potential-induced degradation (PID)
  • Poor soldering or failing adhesives that keep the solar cells wired in series

Like any warranty coverage, your panel warranty will come with some exclusions, although the specific things that are excluded will depend on the manufacturer. Some things that might not be covered include the following:

  • Normal wear and tear
  • Efficiency losses due to installation in extreme temperatures
  • Damages that stem from the installation process — some companies will cover these issues in their labor warranties, but it’s often not a part of the equipment warranty
  • Damages caused by natural disasters — companies vary quite a bit here, as some providers cover damages caused by high-speed wind and hail
  • Shipping costs for replacement parts

A 25-year product warranty is standard for solar panels, and most fall within a range of 15 years to 40 years. Although the average panel lifespan is estimated at around 30 years, most clean energy systems pay for themselves in energy savings in just 12 years.

That means the typical equipment warranty will provide adequate protection for much longer than it takes your panels to become profitable. Over the typical 25-year warranty, your panels should pay for themselves and save an additional $22,000+, making the warranty term more than adequate.

Performance Warranty

All PV panels degrade and lose efficiency over time, and a solar panel performance warranty tells you the maximum degradation you can expect over the warranty period. Below are some of the things that are usually included in your efficiency warranty:

  • Degradation in response to thermal cycling, which is a term describing the natural temperature fluctuations around your panels
  • Solar cell degradation in response to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light
  • Efficiency losses due to the weakening of solar cell connections as they expand and contract

Performance warranties often won’t cover the following:

  • Specific production rates, as this depends on your location, shading, solar panel angle and more
  • Accelerated degradation caused by use in extreme temperatures

The average efficiency warranty lasts for 25 years as well, although coverage for tier-two panels and DIY solar panel kits more often lasts for between 10 and 20 years.

The typical 25-year warranty usually includes a maximum first-year degradation since efficiency losses happen most rapidly right after installation. The average loss of efficiency in year one is a maximum of 2.5%, although some companies guarantee no more than 1%.

The warranty also usually includes a per-year degradation thereafter for the remainder of the warranty term. The average is 0.5% annually over the following 24 years. Some companies guarantee as low as 0.25% annually.

The average 25-year efficiency warranty is usually plenty to ensure your panels perform for well beyond the time it takes for your solar project to become profitable. It takes around 12 years for most panels to pay for themselves, at which point most panels would still retain 92% of their original efficiency. Even with typical losses, your panels should save over $20,000 within the standard warranty term after they pay for themselves.

It’s difficult to quantify exactly how much you’ll save with an efficiency warranty as opposed to not having one. However, with capped efficiency losses, you can more or less ensure that your system pays for itself and continues to save money for over a decade after that point.

Labor or Workmanship Warranty

A labor or workmanship warranty is usually only offered by manufacturers that also handle installations in some capacity, including companies like SunPower and Tesla. Some companies that have a certification process for installers will also provide this kind of coverage. Installers can also offer their own labor warranties on top of what the manufacturer provides.

Labor warranties often cover the following:

  • Repairs and replacements for panels that were damaged during installation
  • Efficiency losses and panel malfunctions that stem from the installation process
  • Damage to wiring that could have been avoided during the installation

There are some possible exclusions that you should look out for in your workmanship warranty, including the following:

  • Damages or issues caused by third-party equipment. This can sometimes include problems stemming from the mounting racks
  • Improper maintenance carried out by third parties, including other solar companies hired in the interim

The average labor warranty lasts for 10 years. Since the majority of the issues that are caused by poor installation techniques will come up shortly after installation, the 10-year average should be plenty to keep you adequately protected.

The typical price for replacement equipment, repair parts and labor for repairs sits around $1,000, so having a lengthy labor warranty can save you quite a bit of money if there are issues that pop up.

Roof Leak Warranty

A roof leak warranty is sometimes included in the workmanship warranty, but many companies keep it separate because the length of coverage is different. This kind of warranty is almost never offered by panel manufacturers unless the company also handles the installation. You’ll more often see this from your installer, which can sometimes be the same company.

Roof leak warranties often cover the following:

  • Localized roof damage caused by water intrusion at the roof penetration site
  • Water damage to building materials directly beneath the roof penetration

Roof leak warranties can come with a handful of caveats, so we recommend reading the agreement carefully to check for the following common exclusions:

  • Total roof replacement; usually, the covered repair includes just a portion of the total cost or a partial replacement
  • Leaks in areas where there was evidence of a pre-existing leak or roof weakness
  • Leaks under panels that have been serviced by a third-party company between installation and the leak occurrence
  • Damages sustained during extreme weather events and natural disasters, including hurricanes, tornadoes, tropical storms and more

Most companies don’t offer a roof leak warranty at all, and those that do average around 10 years of coverage.

Unfortunately, roof penetrations that are made during panel installations will eventually leak. Thankfully, the likelihood is that it will take many years for the penetration to get to the point of leaking, but that also means that the leak is likely to occur outside of that 10-year coverage window.

As such, this is one of the only instances of a solar panel warranty that we feel could potentially be inadequate. This is especially true because the cost to repair a roof leak and the resulting water damage can total between $1,000 and $10,000, depending on the severity. That makes it one of the most expensive issues you could run into after going solar.

Which Solar Installers Offer the Best Warranties?

Most solar system installation companies offer some kind of labor warranty to complement the manufacturer’s warranty and make their services more appealing. The typical labor warranty offered by PV panel installation companies is for 10 years and covers damages stemming from the installation process.

SunPower once again tops the list in terms of warranty length and value. ADT Solar also stands apart from the competition with longer-than-average warranty terms. Below are 10 of the best warranties we’ve seen from the larger installers in the country.

  • SunPower: SunPower tops the list as an installer in terms of warranty coverage as well, providing the same 40-year coverage for the labor as it does for the equipment and amount of electricity the panels generate. This is the longest workmanship we’ve seen from any provider. Additionally, the company provides roof leak coverage for 10 years.
  • ADT Solar: ADT Solar has the second-best warranty coverage as an installer that we’ve seen. It covers the labor for 25 years, which is 2.5x the national average.
  • Elevation Solar: Elevation Solar has an outstanding 25-year warranty for the equipment and labor, the latter of which is more than twice as long as most companies offer.
  • Freedom Forever Solar: Freedom Forever has an all-inclusive 25-year warranty, which, incredibly, includes labor.
  • Momentum Solar: Momentum Solar is another provider that covers labor in its 25-year warranty protection plan.
  • Tesla Solar: Tesla has a 10-year labor warranty, which is in line with the average. However, it also covers roof leaks, which most installers will not.
  • SunRun: SunRun provides its “SunRun Guarantee,” which includes a 10-year labor warranty and roof leak coverage. It should be noted that while the protection on the surface is above-average, the company has a history of slow responses to warranty claims.
  • Vivint: Much like its parent company, SunRun, Vivint offers 10 years of labor and roof leak protection. However, it has the same reputation for poor response times to warranty claims.
  • Blue Raven Solar: Blue Raven Solar offers the standard 10 years of labor warranty, but it couples its products and services with a customer satisfaction guarantee, which is uncommon in the industry.
  • GRNE Solar: GRNE Solar has a standard 10-year labor warranty, but it’s known to have good customer service, which provides even more assurance than the coverage alone.

Worst Installer Warranties

Unfortunately, there are also a lot of solar installers that offer no warranty for the labor at all, let alone roof leak coverage. Below are some examples of regional and national providers that don’t provide warranties for labor at all.

  • Titan Solar: Titan Solar not only has no workmanship warranty, but the company overall has a poor reputation for customer service and quality of service.
  • Vision Solar: Vision Solar is a large, regional installer. It outsources most of its installations, which means it can’t offer any workmanship warranty.
  • First Solar: First Solar has a five-year labor warranty. This is not only half the industry average, but the company also has a poor reputation for customer service and warranty claim response times.

Which Solar Manufacturers Offer the Best Warranties?

The average warranty coverage from panel manufacturers includes 25 years of coverage for the equipment and manufacturer defects and 25 years of guaranteed maximum efficiency losses.

Most manufacturers don’t handle installations as well, so they don’t typically provide labor or roof leak warranties. Those that do usually cover labor for 10 years and roof leaks separately for the same time period.

There are a few manufacturers that go above and beyond with their warranty protection. SunPower is, by far, the best solar panel manufacturer in terms of warranty coverage for its products, and Tesla is another excellent provider that has above-average coverage overall. Some of the best warranties come from the following manufacturers:

  • SunPower/Maxeon: SunPower has an industry-leading 40-year warranty for the equipment durability and the production. This is nearly double what most other providers offer. SunPower also covers labor for 25 years, and it has a 10-year warranty for roof leaks.
  • Tesla: Tesla is one of the few other manufacturers that provides warranty coverage for the equipment, production, labor and roof leaks. The equipment and production warranties are in line with the solar industry average of 25 years. The labor and roof leak coverage last for 10 years.
  • Panasonic: Panasonic has one the best performance warranties, as it guarantees a maximum annual degradation of just 0.26%, second only to SunPower’s for 0.25% and about half of the typical efficiency loss. Panasonic’s first-year degradation is just 2%, which is also below the industry average of 2.5%.
  • LG: LG pulled out of the panel manufacturing industry to focus on battery production, but the warranty coverage for homeowners who already have LG panels installed is excellent. It stands out particularly because of the efficiency warranty, which guarantees a minimum of 92% of the original efficiency after 25 years. This is far better than the industry standard of around 85%.
  • Q Cells: Q Cells has a 25-year labor warranty if you register your panels, which is superior to the standard 10 years of coverage. The first-year degradation set forth in the performance warranty is also 2%, about 0.5% less than most other panels.
  • Solaria: Solaria offers extended solar warranties of we’up to 30 years for different coverages if you register your panels.
  • Trina Solar: Trina Solar’s maximum first-year degradation guaranteed in the performance warranty is one of the lowest in the industry at just 1%.
  • AXITEC: AXITEC is one of the few manufacturers that automatically transfers warranty coverage to the new owner if you sell your home. This makes things convenient and saves you some time if you do relocate.
  • Aptos Solar: Aptos also automatically transfers warranty protection to the new owner if you move.
  • Silfab: Like AXITEC’s and Aptos’ coverage, Silfab’s warranty coverage is around standard in terms of length and coverage. However, coverage automatically transfers to the new owner if you sell your home. Most other companies require paperwork to be filed before coverage is transferred.

Worst Manufacturer Warranties

Of course, not all manufacturers offer great warranty coverage. Below are some examples of companies that provide less appealing solar warranties. Keep in mind that we’re not including manufacturers that simply don’t offer labor or roof leak coverage, as these options are more often provided by your installer.

  • Grape Solar: Grape Solar predominantly makes panels for DIY installation. The solar panel product warranty and the efficiency warranty both last for just 10 years—less than half of the industry average for both coverages. The performance warranty can last for 25 years, but only for efficiency dips caused specifically by manufacturer defects and not normal aging or wear and tear, like other panel brands.
  • Renogy: Renogy is another DIY panel brand, so its warranty coverage is expected to be lower. The equipment warranty on some products lasts for just three to five years.
  • Jinko Solar: Jinko’s performance warranty lasts for the typical 25 years, but the degradation rate per year is 0.7%, around 40% higher than the industry average.
  • JA Solar: JA Solar’s panel warranty lasts for just 12 years, which is less than half of the national average.
  • Canadian Solar: Overall, Canadian Solar’s warranty coverages aren’t terrible. However, the degradation is faster than you’ll find from most providers, with up to a 3% efficiency dip in year one and 0.55% per year for the following 24 years. Both are faster than the average.

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Can Any Other Insurance or Warranty Plans Cover Solar Panels?

Most home warranties won’t cover solar panels, and even the ones that include roof leak protection typically won’t provide coverage if you have solar panels installed.

However, your homeowner’s insurance policy will typically include coverage for your panels at no extra cost. That means they could keep you insulated from repair and replacement costs that come about because of damage sustained during extreme weather events, natural disasters and unavoidable issues. These include things like hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, fallen trees and more.

Additionally, while most roof leaks from solar panel roof penetrations won’t be covered under your homeowner’s insurance, there’s a good chance leaks that come about from extreme weather are. For example, if your roof starts leaking because of excessive rain during a hurricane or damage from a tree limb that comes down in a major storm, your homeowner’s insurance might cover the damage.

Can Installing Solar Panels Impact Any of Your Existing Insurance or Warranty Plans?

Yes, the roof penetrations typically used during panel installations can affect coverage from other warranties and insurance coverages, and the addition of solar might affect your insurance premium and coverage.

If you have a home warranty that includes roof leak protection or a standalone roof warranty, that will likely be voided if you install panels. Even if the coverage isn’t totally voided, you might not see a payout for specific leaking events that are determined to be caused by your panels.

Your homeowner’s insurance could also be affected. Since solar panels bump up your home value and the amount you need to be covered, you might need to increase your coverage to ensure your panels are included. That could mean that your annual premium increases to account for the added protection.

How to File a Solar Panel Warranty Claim?

Filing a claim with your solar provider or manufacturer should be a straightforward and simple process, provided you had a reputable and reliable installer carry out the work.

Still, it’s worth doing everything you can to avoid running into an issue where a claim might be necessary. Below are some tips for avoiding efficiency and performance issues that might warrant a claim being filed:

  • Avoid installing your panels in partial shade: A panel that sees shade during the day will always produce less than the same panel that sits in full sun. Installing in partial shade can also lead to temperature imbalances in your panel, which could promote hot spots from forming. Hot spots cripple efficiency and lead to accelerated degradation. Always install in full sun when possible to avoid having to file a claim for dips in efficiency and performance.
  • Choose a high-quality panel brand: You might pay more for a high-quality panel from a company like SunPower than you would from most other solar panel manufacturers, but you’ll also be less likely to see damages and efficiency loss. Top-tier manufacturers use advanced technology and materials to reduce leaking voltages, cracked solar cells, hot spots and other issues that might lead to a warranty claim.
  • Have a professional handle the installation: Attempting a DIY solar installation might be tempting to save some money, but we always recommend having a reliable professional do the work. DIY installation can lead to panel damage and improper installation that causes drops in efficiency and malfunctioning that could lead to warranty claims.

If you do run into a panel performance issue and have to submit a warranty claim, you can follow the steps below to do so:

  • Step 1 — Confirm the issue is covered: First, read through your warranty information from your manufacturer or installer to ensure your issue is covered.
  • Step 2 — Get your documentation ready: Prepare for the first contact by getting your documentation ready. This could be the panel model information your installer provided, the warranty information included with your equipment or proof of purchase.
  • Step 3 — Contact your panel manufacturer or installer: Next, contact the warranty claims or service department. If you’re seeing an issue with panel performance, you should first call your manufacturer. If there’s an issue with a roof leak, start with your installer.
  • Step 4 — Schedule an inspection: Next, your manufacturer or installer will need to schedule an inspection to assess the issue. You will need to be home for the inspection to provide access.
  • Step 5 — Provide any additional information required: Once the inspection is done, the company might ask you for additional information, including documentation for your equipment or installation.
  • Step 6 — Follow up: Finally, we recommend you follow up regularly on the warranty claim until your repair or replacement is completed.

Are Extended Solar Panel Warranties Necessary?

Some companies offer extended solar panel warranties just for registering your products, while others charge a fee to gain access to the added coverage. If you get any additional coverage for registering with the manufacturer, we strongly recommend you take it. Provided you’re not paying anything extra, it’s always worth it to get added protection.

However, we generally don’t recommend paying for an extended panel warranty. In most cases, included warranty coverages are plenty long to protect your equipment through the panel payback period and beyond, which means your solar panel system will be profitable by the time they expire.

The five to 10 years an extended warranty adds isn’t worth it, in our opinion. Thankfully, most panels don’t experience any severe issues even beyond their warranty term. Many panels installed 25+ years ago are still functioning and providing sufficient power today.

Some companies also offer free panel maintenance and service if you choose a specific financing option. SunRun is a classic example of this, as it includes maintenance if you choose a lease or a power purchase agreement (PPA).

While added protection is great, most panels don’t need maintenance or cleaning, so the extra coverage is more or less worthless. Plus, leases and PPAs save you far less over time than cash purchases and solar loans, so we strongly recommend against them, even if it means added protection.

Solar panel warranties are crucial to understand before you hire a solar installer or choose a panel brand for your home. Your warranty can help maximize your energy savings over time and protect you from high repair and replacement costs.

We suggest choosing a reliable installer that offers at least the industry standard in terms of warranty coverage, and we recommend a provider that includes equipment, efficiency and labor coverage for total protection.

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FAQs: Solar Panel Warranties

Below, we’ll answer some of the questions we see most often about solar panel warranties, what they include and how they work.

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Article author
Dan Simms is an experienced writer with a passion for renewable energy. As a solar and EV advocate, much of his work has focused on the potential of solar power and deregulated energy, but he also writes on related topics, like real estate and economics. In his free time — when he's not checking his own home's solar production — he enjoys outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking, skiing and rock climbing.
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Expert reviewer
Andrew Dunn is a veteran journalist with more than 15 years of experience reporting and editing for local and national publications, including The Charlotte Observer and Business North Carolina magazine. His work has been recognized numerous times by the N.C. Press Association and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. Andrew earned a degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as a certificate in business journalism and a minor in Spanish. He's also an avid outdoorsman, an Eagle Scout and volunteer leader in the Boy Scouts of America. He lives in Charlotte, N.C.

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