Solar panel warranties and consumer law
There are all sorts of different warranties to consider when it comes to comparing solar power systems and installation quotes. These include:
- Solar panel performance warranty (25 years)
- Solar panel product warranty (10 – 25 years)
- Inverter warranty (5 – 10 years)
- Installation (quality) warranty
- Entire system warranty
Solar panel performance warranty
Most solar panel warranties come with a 25-year performance warranty from the manufacturer. The performance warranty protects you against panels that degrade way faster than what they should. Most performance warranties guarantee that your panels will produce 80% of their rated output after 25 years. It is arguably the least important of all the warranties as it is difficult to prove that inferior performance is solely due to the solar panel module.
Solar panel product warranty
The solar panel product warranty provides you with protection should your system underperform due to faulty modules. The solar panel manufacturer provides the product warranty, and they normally guarantee the module for 10 – 15 years. Better quality solar panels come with a longer product warranty, up to 25 years in some cases.
Performance vs product warranty
Tip: Don’t confuse the performance warranty with the product warranty, as this is one indicator that can separate better quality panels from lower grade modules. The product warranty guarantees that the product will continue working, while the performance warranty provides that the system will deliver a percentage of its rated output after 25 years.
The inverter warranty is as important as the product warranty because without a functioning inverter your panels won’t work anyway. The inverter also performs at high temperature and is the system component most likely to fail. Inverters typically come with a 5-year warranty, though in many cases you can pay more to have this extended.
Your solar retailer will possibly offer you an install warranty that covers the solar panel installation. Installation warranties can vary from anywhere between 12 months to ten years. Installation warranties can be vague, it is critical that you ask:
- What is covered by the installation warranty?
- Does the warranty lie with the retailer company or sub-contractor?
In the event a solar company subcontracts the solar installation, it is essential to know who is providing the warranty. The solar retailer may advertise an installation warranty, but if they do not perform the install, they may well fall back on the sub-contractors warranty, which is likely to be far shorter.
Entire system warranty
A reputable solar company will guarantee the installation and operation of the whole system for a period of up to at least five years.
The best solar panel warranty
The most important solar warranty, if you can get it, is the entire system warranty. Not all solar installer companies even provide this warranty, while some top companies provide a 10-year warranty. The Clean Energy Council’s Approved Solar Retailers all agree to provide a minimum 5-year warranty on the operation and performance of the whole solar power system.
Responsibility is with the retailer
The beauty of this condition is that if any part of the system breaks down or underperforms, the solar retailer will repair it. An entire system warranty is one difference between a highly reputable solar installer and one not so good.
Australian Consumer Law
Australian Consumer Law
You should also be aware of your rights as a consumer under Australian law. Australian Consumer Law covers solar products and, provides that the product will function, work and last as it has been advertised/promised. If it doesn’t, then you have consumer rights for:
- Repair or replacement
- Cancellation of contract
- Compensation for damages or loss
Your rights for the repair, cancellation and compensation under Consumer law may be at the discretion of the installer or manufacturer. It is a good idea to consult a solicitor in this instance.
We certainly do not recommend you purchase a solar panel system from a door-to-door salesperson or a telemarketer, but if you do, you’re entitled to a 10-day cooling off period after signing a contract.