We asked a well known solar installer in Queensland, MC Electrical and Solar, to give us the low down on solar warranties and tips on what to look out for. This is what Mark Cavanagh, (possibly the most solar obsessed guy on the planet), had to say.
Solar is an environmental and economical no-brainer. While the industry has matured in the last 10 years, there are still some things that a savvy customer will want to be aware of.
In most solar panel warranty documents, they state that you must follow installation guidelines if you want to claim a warranty. Fair enough. But what if that installation manual said your panels must have: “...no shadowing affected by building, chimney, tree, and neighboring module etc. (sic)
That quote is straight out of LG Solar’s installation manual, but most solar panel manufacturers have similar clauses. Can you see the potential issue here? A lot happens in 25 years for starters.
The solar industry is full of solutions that allow solar panels to work better on real-world roofs with partial shade. Optimisers, microinverter, and technologies like “shade fix” are a huge part of the solar industry.
Ironically, most solar panel manufacturers don’t seem to care for the real world. Over 25 years, trees grow, and buildings will be built. Your panels will probably see some shade at some point, so your warranty can be void should the manufacturer feel that way inclined.
After much petitioning from MC Electrical, Sunpower, (an American based Solar panel manufacturer) was the first to make their installation manual suit the reality of shade.
Others such as QCells are working on this as well and will hopefully update their manual some day soon. MC Electrical are petitioning other solar panel manufacturers, but in the meantime, the best thing to do is ask your installer the question and read your fine print!