Solar Panel and Inverter Warranties

When you buy a new solar panel these days it is pretty much certain to come from one of manufacturers below....
Canadian Solar, Jinko, Trina, JA Solar, Risen, Q.Cells, REC, GCL, Talesun, Suntech, Seraphim, Eging, LG, ET Solar, Sunpower, Winaico, SolarWatt and Longi.

All of these manufacturers, the World's largest and supposedly 'best', give a minimum of 10 years defect warranty, and the most expensive brands, 25 years.

The typical 10-12 year solar panel defect warranty does NOT include labour and sometimes not even transportation, and that needs to be properly explained.

Let's say you buy and install 6.6kW of Tier1 panels in 2019 that have the typical 10 year defect warranty.

The chances of you having any sort of failure on any of your twenty or so panels is statistically speaking, very low indeed, about 0.01%, within the ten year period, but let's say that you are unlucky and do get a faulty one, in 2025, 6 years later.

Without a shadow of doubt the exact panel you have on your roof will not be available anymore. You might have bought 300W panels but in six years time, the equivalent sized panel might be 400W. No problem there though, as the 400W panel will just reduce its output to match the others so your replacement 400W panel will behave like the other 300W ones.

The next obstacle to overcome, and this applies to ALL solar panels, no matter how long their warranty and whether they do or do not include labour and transportation costs, or how much you paid for them, is 'PROOF'.

The manufacturer wants to know the serial number of the panel, see pictures of the damage if visible, have open circuit voltages measured, proof of purchase invoices and often proof that the original installer was 'accredited' to install their brand.

The only way this can be done is by a solar electrician going out to your home and getting all the required info and pictures, returning to their office and submitting it to the manufacturer for 'approval'. Very time-consuming, and someone is going to pay, but we'll get to that.

Let's say approval is given. The manufacturer gives their local wholesaler authorisation to release a panel from their stock and issues the wholesaler with a credit.

The installer collects the panel from the wholesaler, drives to your house, and typically 30 minutes later you are up and running and the faulty panel will be returned to the wholesaler on the next stock pick-up visit.

However, what with the first call out to collect information and pictures and then the second trip there will have been at least $300 worth of electrican time costs racked up that are not covered by the manufacturer warranty.

So, in most cases, a warranty claim on a failed panel incurs a cost of $300.

So who pays that?

It would appear that the answer to that rather important question very much lies with who you bought from, if they still exist.

We've never charged a single one of our customers since Solar4Ever started in early 2011, to replace a faulty panel under warranty, but theoretically, contractually, we could have. What other solar companies do is their business but one thing is for absolute's panels from the list of names at the top of this page are orders of magnitude better built, by robots, than the old, often hand built, panels of just 5 to 10 years ago...and those hand built panels are standing up just fine so far.

Inverter warranties
Every inverter we have ever known has come with a minimum of 5 years parts and labour. You pay absolutely nothing to have your inverter replaced under warranty within that time. Sometimes we need to send an electrician out to check whether it is indeed the inverter at fault, but most times the inverter tells you the problem e.g. 'Relay Failure'. Before anyone gets sent out though, we will talk you through the process of (1) Making sure all your ground level AC and DC breakers are in the 'ON' position and (2) You aren't currently having a power cut (3) The sun was still shining when you checked the inverter (4) the process to re-boot your inverter.

Many inverters come with an 'extended' defect warranty option, typically an extra 5 years. Often it's free, sometimes you might have to pay an extra $100, but it gives you an extra 5 years defect warranty on a product that would cost a minimum of $1,000 if you had to buy a replacement and often with European brands like Fronius, over $2,000. However this extended warranty does NOT include labour, and unlike with panels, we aren't prepared to cover that labour cost ourselves, because inverter failure, especially as the inverter ages, gets increasingly more likely no matter how expensive it is. The typical labour cost to replace an inverter is $250.