The Solar Panel Warranty Paradox

solar panel warranty paradox

Presenting “Ronald’s Solar Panel Warranty Paradox™ “. Or what happens when you spend too much time thinking about solar panels and not enough time playing Dungeons & Dragons.

Why Solar Panel Warranties Are Less Important Than You May Think

I’ve written one or two blog articles over the years and if you’ve happen to have seen them, you may have noticed I have a thing about solar panel warranties.  Specifically, I like ’em long.  The longer the better.  It’s a little peccadillo of mine.  Because of my predilection for impressive warranties you could, quite understandably, reach the erroneous conclusion that I think a good solar panel warranty is a valuable thing for a household to have.  But this is not the case. I think for all practical purposes most solar panel warranties will be almost worthless. [Read more…]

An Apology To Australian Premium Solar

Sorry can be the hardest word.

I am writing this article to apologize to Australian Premium Solar, also known as APS.

On the 20th of January this year I wrote an article entitled, “Australian Premium Solar Turn A 30 Year Warranty Into A One Year Warranty.”

In the article I did the following:

  • I described the APS warranty as “horrible”.
  • I said that unnecessary and expensive inspections are required to maintain the APS warranty.
  • I advised people not to use APS panels.

I of course apologize for none of that, as I still believe it all to be true. [Read more…]

Unwitting Warranties: A Ticking Time Bomb For The Battery Industry

dodgy battery sales guy

As soon as a battery manufacturer says this, your battery magically gets a 20 year warranty in Australia. No matter what the warranty document says.

The other day a salesperson give me the rundown on a home battery system he had on display.  While it wasn’t cheap, it certainly appeared to be a very impressive piece of technology.  The salesperson clearly had a lot of confidence in it because, even though its written warranty was only for 10 years, he very generously doubled that to a 20 year warranty without batting an eyelid.

Ben Affleck had his eyes batted for two hours a day in preparation for this role.

Ben Affleck would bat his eyelids for two hours a day in preparation for this role.

We weren’t related, so nepotism wasn’t the reason for his generosity.  And it wasn’t because I saved his life in Nam…bour.  (That sugar cane train could be really dangerous.)  We weren’t old schoolmates, and as hard as it may be to believe, he wasn’t taken in by my charm and good looks.

No, the reason why he gave me a 20 year warranty was simply because he didn’t realize he was giving one.  Or possibly, he did realize he was giving one and really hates his company.

He gave me a 20 year warranty when he told me the battery system had a design life of 20 years.  According to Australian Consumer Law, if a salesperson makes a statement that a reasonable person would conclude to mean that a product can be expected to last for 20 years, then that counts as a 20 year warranty.  It doesn’t matter that this warranty was given verbally or that it is twice as long as its written warranty, legally it still counts. [Read more…]

Congratulations! Your 10 Year Solar Panel Product Warranty Is Probably 25 Thanks To Australian Consumer Law

magician turning a 10 year warranty in to 25 year warranty

Has your solar panel’s ‘product warranty’ has been magically transformed from 10 to 25 years thanks to Australian Consumer Law?

When people ask me about solar panel warranties, I tell them to look at the product warranty.  This is usually for 10 or 12 years.

I tell them not to worry about the performance warranty, which is normally for 25 years or sometimes 30.  You see, while most manufacturers are happy to honor their product warranties, not all of them expect to replace solar panels that fail while they are only covered by their performance warranty. [Read more…]

LG Chem Resu 6.4Ex vs Tesla Powerwall

LG resu 6.4ex and a powerwall

How does the LG Resu compare to the Tesla Powerwall?

If you are looking at a 6.4kWh Lithium-Ion battery for use with your solar power system in Australia right now, you are probably tossing up between a LG Chem Resu 6.4Ex and the Tesla Powerwall.

To help you decide which one is for you – here is a side by side comparison, and some commentary on their warranties below. [Read more…]

Your Solar Panel Warranty : What you need to know

solar panel warranty choices

What warranty are you really getting?

One of the most important things you have to watch out for when buying solar is the warranties that are offered. All too often people end up going with a cowboy firm because they have been reassured by their “25 year solar panel warranty”. What many people don’t realise is that, in reality, this warranty can be worthless.  You really need to understand how solar warranties work when you are buying a system that is designed to last 30 years or more, so you can separate the worthless promises from the genuine guarantees… [Read more…]

Your Solar Panel & Inverter Warranty And The Law: What You Need To Know

Person signing a solar system warranty

Your Solar Panel Warranty and Solar Inverter Warranty have tough new minimum standards by law. Changes to the Australian Consumer Law came into effect on 1 January 2012. These are good changes which help protect you as a solar consumer from toothless warranties when buying a solar system. [Read more…]

Solar Panel Warranties – How to make sure yours is worth more than the paper it is written on:

All solar panels should come with 2 types of warranty:

  • Power Output Warranty : usually 20-30 years
  • Material Warranty : usually 2 to 10 years

1. The Power Output Warranty

This covers the power from the panels. Usually if the power drops to less than 80% of the specification in the first 20-30 years, you can make a claim on the warranty.

That’s all well and good but you need to be confident that you will firstly be able to measure and prove that the power has dropped, and secondly be able to contact the correct company to get any warranty claims honored.

Ask to see the warranty details in writing. Get the installer/salesperson to show you where it states how the power from your panels will be measured if you suspect that the power has dropped, who will measure it and if they will charge you for the privilege.

Also ask them to show you where it says how the warranty claim will be handled, who is responsible for honoring it and what costs you might incur. Will they charge you to remove, ship and test the faulty panel and then ship and install the new solar panel.

If your solar installer or salesperson can’t answer these questions then that is a sign that they are badly trained or inexperienced or both.

If the warranty is covered by the installing firm, ask what the backup is if they are not around in 20 years – (This even applies to the bigger solar installers – one thing the world has learned recently is that even huge companies can go bust if the economy changes…). If you have to go back to the solar panel manufacturer, then go to the manufacturers website and see if you can find warranty details. If you can’t find the website or the warranty details that is a bad sign…

Another great question to ask is: “What % of your revenue do you put aside for future warranty claims?” and also “What % of the solar panel manufacturer’s revenue is put aside for future warranty claims”.

The final thing to check out is whether this warranty is “linear” or “stepped”. A linear warranty of 80% (i.e. a 20% power drop) over 20 years would cover you if the output dropped by more than a twentieth of that 20% in the first year (i.e. 1%), then 2% in the second year and so on… at that linear rate of 1% per year until the solar panels were 20 years old.

Linear warranties are rare, but some of the more expensive panels do have them. The more common “stepped” warranty means that, for the “80% over 20 years” example, your panels can lose 19% in the first year and you won’t be covered unless they lose another 1% in the remaining 19 years to get under that 80% threshold.

2. The Material Warranty

The material warranty (2-10 years) is usually for defects that may cause the power of your panels to drop – but don’t cause the power to drop below the “power output warranty” threshold.

So if you have a power output warranty of “80% over 20 years” and some water gets into one of your panels causing the overall system power to drop 19% – this would be covered by the “material warranty”, not the “power output warranty”.

This can be for stuff like delamination of the backing sheet, discoloration of the solar panels (can look really naff!), solder joints coming undone and bypass diodes failing.

Again – ask your solar installer or sales person to give you a comprehensive list of things that are covered by this warranty.

Finally: watch out for get out clauses

In some of the small print in the terms and conditions published by the bottom end of the solar market, I’ve seen clauses that say your warranty isn’t valid unless you get your system “serviced” every 2 years.

If you have one of these clauses, find out exactly what defines “serviced” and how much it is going to cost. This is especially important if you are buying a really cheap solar system with panels of questionable lifespan. The last thing you want is for your panels to fail after 3 years and then have the warranty knocked back because you didn’t get your panels “serviced” within 2 years!

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