I get it. Warranties are boring. And sometimes unnecessary (think extended warranties on kitchen appliances).
But when it comes to putting a small solar energy “power plant” on the roof of your biggest asset – your home – you want to be confident in the workmanship, and that you are getting the performance and savings you were promised. Warranties provide that confidence.
Even if you truly don’t care about the warranties – maybe you think your system will never have an issue – warranties also say something about the company offering them. An installer willing to stand behind its work with long-term warranties has faith in its estimates, its crews, and the equipment it uses.
Here’s a summary of the types of warranties you might get with solar.
From the equipment manufacturers
- Material Warranties protect you from defects in the manufacturing of the panels and inverters.
- Power Production Warranties guarantee your panels will operate at a certain level of performance for a certain amount of time.
- A Labor Warranty is much less common, but a few manufacturers cover service and labor for any repairs related to failures covered under the Material Warranty. For example, if a faulty panel takes in water, the labor to replace that panel is covered (along with the panel itself).
From the installer
- Workmanship Warranties cover the installer’s work and assure you are getting quality installation by experienced crews using industry-leading methods. If something goes wrong due to the company’s work, it will be fixed at no charge to you for supplies or labor. And mistakes do happen. New England Clean Energy crews are very well-trained and meticulous in their work, but even the best crews can be responsible for the occasional wiring flaw or roof leak.
- Speaking of roof leaks, these are of particular concern to many homeowners, understandably. New England Clean Energy’s Workmanship Warranty includes a Roof Protection clause. If you experience a roof leak within five inches of any of the roof penetrations created by our crew, we will fix it. Thankfully, roof leaks are rare because of our Triple Seal Roof Mount.
- System Performance or Production Warranties are extra critical because they guarantee your system will deliver the solar energy and savings you were promised. Some companies will keep you whole on any electricity savings you don’t realize if the system under-performs. A few, like New England Clean Energy, also compensate you for any lost green income if you participate in programs such as SRECs and SMART in Massachusetts, RECs in New Hampshire, or Renewable Energy Growth in Rhode Island.
(Note that manufacturer warranties don’t cover damage due to “natural causes” such as a tree branch falling on a panel and cracking it. Be sure to add your solar to your homeowner’s insurance for situations like that. Most insurers add little to nothing to your policy to include your solar.)
Warranty names vary from company to company but this overview describes the basic concepts. Warranties also change over time. When you receive a solar proposal, the consultant should give you details on what warranties are available to you.
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