When thinking about purchasing an operating solar power plant, it is important to carefully consider the types and durations of the warranties clauses attached to the components. Like most technology products that one buys, major solar plant components also come with warranties that help safeguard your investment in the unlikely event that a problem occurs after installation.
Let’s look at the warranties attached to the two main components of power plants that are more vulnerable to failures that others.
As solar panels contain no moving parts, they are less likely to face structural damage, if bought from reputed manufacturers. However, most manufacturers offer two kinds of warranties for the solar panels
- Product Warranty
This typically comes for ten years. It covers any manufacturing defects that are observed in the panels. This warranty covers the damages that could occur to the frame which provides structural rigidity to the panel, the glass which protects the top side of the panel, the EVA which is the glue that binds all the components of the panel, the cells where sunlight is converted to electricity and finally the junction box and connectors which transfer energy from one panel to the next.
- Performance Warranty
There are two performance warranties that come with solar panels; Standard Warranty and Linear Warranty. The Standard Warranty gives you a minimum output per Wp for a fixed period, while the Linear Warranty clearly stipulates the minimum output from the solar panel for each of the 25 years. Overall, the Linear Warranty can give you a much higher output over the 25 year period than the Standard Warranty, even if does cost slightly higher. So, while evaluating your solar power plants, prefer the ones with panels having a linear performance warranty.
Inverter warranties typically come for about five years from most suppliers. However, inverters can also come with extended warranties up to seven or ten years depending on the extra premium paid up-front.
Inverters are the major components in the solar power plants whose warranties will usually have to be resorted to, since they are highly susceptible to damages. So again, while evaluating inverters, do give inverter warranties adequate attention.Most inverters come with a standard warranty cover of up to 5 years. This warranty covers the defects or damages that may occur to the inverters parts. Inverter Manufacturers can also offer you extended warranties at a premium, which can cover your inverter up to 7-10 years.
Other components in the solar power plants like mounting structures, cables, junction boxes, etc., usually come with five-year warranties.
What do you need to know regarding warranties of your solar power plant components?
Go through the warranty documents, especially for panels and inverters, and make sure you have clear answers on the following critical aspects.
The warranty document must explain exactly what the manufacturer will do to honor the promises made, especially with respect to the following:
- How they will determine the problem for which warranty is claimed
- Who will remove and re-install the faulty component
- Who will be responsible for the shipment charges of the faulty and repaired product
- Will they merely repair or completely replace the product
- What are the specific clauses against which the warranties can be void
On a concluding note,
Always remember that claiming warranties involves a lot of hassle and you are better off with components that are less likely to fail rather than components that merely are backed with good warranties. And also, do keep in mind that the warranties are likely to be honoured only if the manufacturers are in business all through the warranty period. Hence components covered by a third party’s insurance should score higher in your evaluation scale.
You might want to check out these questions on Solar Power Plant Evaluation- Components:
- How well have the components been chosen?- Here
- Presence of local service support from component manufacturers?- Here
- What have been the degradation rates in panels?- Here
- How good are the inverters?- Here
- What types of monitoring solutions are employed by the power plant?- Here
- What kind of trackers is employed?How do you ensure its quality?- Here
- Are the components suppliers in business?- Here
- Can you retrofit additional components to an existing power plant to increase generation? – Here