As we’ve covered in other posts, today’s high quality solar panels are incredibly resilient. With no moving parts, a well-maintained installation can continue generating clean and free electricity for decades.
In fact, many Maryland, DC solar installations from the 1970s are still fully operational — more than 40 years later.
But while malfunctions are quite rare, they can and do happen.
The most common solar malfunction issues over the 25 to 40-year useful lifetime of a standard system include:
- Loose or torn connections
- Inverter failures
- Battery malfunctions or disconnections
- Panel blockages
- Installation slippages
- Panel cracks
In the unlikely event of a solar installation failure, what are your options?
Well, it depends on a range of factors, including:
- Who owns the system?
- What warranties and guarantees come with the installation?
- What service agreements are available?
Who Actually Owns the Solar Installation?
System ownership is probably the most important variable.
If you lease (i.e. rent) your solar installation from a 3rd party, you’re usually not responsible for any repairs. In most cases, this 3rd party is legally required to make the appropriate arrangements — including covering any maintenance and repair costs.
This is not simply a legal requirement. 3rd party system owners are also financially incentivized to get their solar installations back online as soon as possible. Because they charge you (the lessee) for the clean electricity that the system produces, every hour of downtime represents lost income potential.
But what if you own the system?
As the system owner, you’re technically responsible for any and all repairs. But rarely will you have to pay out of pocket.
Let’s explore why.
Warranties Help in the Case of Solar Panel Malfunctions
Most solar photovoltaic (PV) installations are backed by any number of warranties. In fact, Maryland, DC has fairly strict performance guidelines regarding professional installations performed by licensed contractors.
The exact terms and conditions vary from installation to installation, but below are some common ranges:
- High quality solar panels usually come with 20 to 25-year manufacturer warranties (although useful lifetimes can exceed 40 years with proper maintenance)
- Solar inverters range between 5 and 20 years, depending on the maker
- Warranties for solar-enabled batteries last anywhere from 5 to 10 years (although their useful lifetimes can exceed 15 years)
In addition, most installers may offer 10 to 20-year workmanship warranties — i.e. legal guarantees that your system will perform properly barring any accidents or equipment malfunctions not covered by the manufacturer.
In other words, if your system fails due to improper installation, the contractor will fix it, free of charge.
Are Extended Solar Service Agreements Necessary?
For a technology as durable as solar, the above warranties are usually sufficient. Breakages are rare — if and when they do happen, you’re fully covered 99% of the time.
But for added peace of mind, you may want to purchase an extended service agreement from your solar PV installer. It’s a wise investment when you consider that 40+ years of lower monthly electricity bills will more than cover the added expense.
For more information about solar warranties, repairs, and installations, contact Renewable Energy Corporation today for a free solar assessment of your home or business