ExecutiveChronicles | Is My Solar Panel Covered Under My Homeowners Insurance? | Homeowners insurance typically covers solar panel damage, but this coverage can vary in terms of limits and premium prices. Contact your clients’ homeowners insurance providers to find out more about their specific policy.
In addition to product warranties, solar panels come with a performance warranty that guarantees their energy production capability for 25 years. However, deciphering these warranties can be confusing.
What is a solar panel?
A solar panel is a photovoltaic (PV) cell that converts sunlight into electrical energy. It is a key part of any residential solar power system, and it is essential to understand how a solar panel works before purchasing one. A solar panel is a durable, reliable technology that provides clean and green energy for homeowners, businesses, and schools. However, just like any other technological device, solar panels are susceptible to damage from the elements and unforeseen events.
That is why it’s important for consumers to fully understand their solar panel warranties and insurance before making a purchase. Many homeowners insurance policies cover solar panels because they are a permanent addition to a home, but it’s best to check with your homeowner’s policy provider for specifics and coverage limits. Solar panel warranties can provide additional protection in the case of damage from weather or other factors that your homeowner’s policy doesn’t cover.
Most Tier 1 solar panel manufacturers offer 25-year performance warranties on their products. This warranty guarantees that your solar panels will not degrade below a certain percentage of their original output over the course of 25 years. Some companies also offer step warranties, which provide less comprehensive coverage over time.
Additionally, most tier-1 solar panel manufacturers offer product workmanship warranties for 10 or more years. This warranty protects against any manufacturing defects or equipment failures, and it covers a variety of issues, including corrosion, glass breakage, and mechanical damage to the panel’s frame. The manufacturer may require certain maintenance in order to keep this warranty in place, so make sure you carefully read your warranty’s fine print.
Many solar panels are also transferable from one homeowner to another, so that can be a benefit if you think you might sell your home in the future. However, it’s important to ask about transferability before signing any contracts because some companies only provide their warranties to the original purchaser and require a simple piece of paperwork in order to transfer the warranty.
What is a photovoltaic (PV) cell?
A solar panel is made up of hundreds or thousands of photovoltaic cells that are grouped together into a large cell module. Solar modules are typically made from crystalline silicon, but some manufacturers also produce panels with thin-film semiconductor materials that can be more lightweight and less expensive to manufacture. There are currently thousands of different PV modules available for use in residential, commercial, and utility-scale solar systems. The efficiency of a solar panel can be determined by its photovoltaic conversion coefficient (PTC), which is a measurement of how well the module converts sunlight to electricity. A higher PTC means a more efficient module, which results in greater electricity production per unit of surface area.
Most tier 1 manufacturers offer 25-year product warranties on their solar panels. They may also offer a separate performance warranty that guarantees that the solar panels will continue to produce their rated power after that timeframe has expired. The performance warranties often have either a linear or step coverage model.
While solar panels are extremely durable and able to withstand the harsh conditions of the Midwest, they do experience some degradation over time. This occurs because of a chemical reaction between oxygen and boron in the silicon cell, which reduces the module’s overall power output over time. New technologies are being used to solve this issue by introducing elements into the silicon cell that won’t bond with oxygen impurities.
Other factors can affect a solar panel’s longevity, including poor installation practices, unmaintained maintenance, and stepping on the panels themselves. It’s important to carefully read your solar panel manufacturer’s warranties to find out what issues are covered and when. Most manufacturers will include a “limitations and exclusions” rider that details the situations when the warranty will not apply. In some cases, the manufacturer will exclude the warranty for issues like hotspots and snail trails, which are localized decreases in power output that can occur over time. This is why it’s essential to work with a reputable installer who will ensure your system is properly installed and maintained.
What is a solar panel warranty?
A solar panel warranty is a guarantee offered by the manufacturer or installer of a renewable energy system that covers the panels against defects, equipment failure, environmental issues, and other damage. Warranties typically run for 10 to 25 years and should be an essential part of a solar buying discussion. Warranties protect customers from costly repairs and replacements as well as improve the overall value of their energy systems.
Solar panel warranties are generally comprised of two parts: a product/workmanship warranty and a performance warranty. A product/workmanship warranty is intended to ensure that the solar panels are free from any manufacturing defects and were thoroughly tested before being shipped to a solar installation company for integration with a customer’s roof. The majority of top-tier solar panel manufacturers offer a product warranty that lasts for at least 10 years.
In addition to protecting the integrity of a solar panel against equipment defects, a performance warranty is designed to keep a customer’s solar PV system at or near its maximum power generation capacity over a 25-year period. Specifically, the performance warranty guarantees that a solar panel will lose power at a rate no faster than a specified percentage per year.
REC manufactures some of the most popular solar panels in the market. Their REC ProTrust warranty offers both a product and performance warranty for 25 years and is backed by a 10-year labor warranty. Another excellent option is the Qcells line of American solar panels. This American-made solar panel brand has a 360W Mission Solar panel with a 25-year warranty that comes with a 30-year production guarantee.
Adding solar panel warranties to homeowner’s insurance is an excellent way for clients to secure additional coverage for their multi-thousand-dollar renewable energy systems. However, it’s important to note that most homeowners insurance already provides a degree of protection against damage to solar equipment from things like hail, lightning, and vandalism.
What is the difference between a product warranty and a performance warranty?
The difference between these two types of warranties is that a product warranty covers problems caused by the manufacturer during the manufacturing process. A performance warranty guarantees a minimum level of power production throughout the life of your solar panel system. A typical performance warranty offers 90% power production for the first 10 years and 80% for 25 years. Most top-performing panels are very stable and continue to perform efficiently long after the 25-year warranty has expired.
When choosing the best solar panel for your home, it’s important to ask about the specific details of both product and performance warranties. A reputable solar contractor will be able to help you understand what is and isn’t covered by each type of warranty and how it applies to your particular installation.
There are many factors that can void both types of solar warranty, such as damage or malfunction from events beyond the control of the manufacturer. A few things that might trigger this include damage to a panel from hail or other debris, alterations made by non-authorized installers or homeowners, issues caused by parts of the PV system not functioning properly, and extreme weather conditions such as snow and lightning storms.
The length of the warranty and how it’s structured are also important to consider. Many manufacturers offer warranties of 10-15 years, while premium solar panels come with 20- or 25-year product warranties. Some manufacturers also offer a workmanship warranty. This is a great option if you’re working with an installer that is part of the manufacturer’s certified network, as they will be able to back up their work with the same warranty offered by the manufacturer.
Be sure to look into the fine print of any warranty you’re considering. Make sure the company that’s providing the warranty is a reputable, financially stable business that has insurance policies or escrow in place to ensure that they will be around to honor their products and processes should anything go wrong. It’s also a good idea to ask about any extra safeguards that might be in place, such as a guarantee that the company will pay for replacement or solar panel repair even if they go out of business before their warranty expires.