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Warranty Info Solar Panel Installers Are Hiding From You

My name is David Bar, and I am the VP of a solar energy company, Grid City Energy, https://GridCitySolar.com and we are actively servicing the needs of the commercial and residential markets in Long Island and New York City. I am writing this article because we want to encourage you to reach out to us for your solar needs to eventually become customers. We are not a website which will give your information to 20 different installers all over the internet. We are a local company who will keep the details of your information and your project secure. We do all the work ourselves in house including engineering to installation. I want to share with you certain things that are important for you to know that many installers wouldn’t want you to know or that your salesman wouldn’t know to share with you.

Solar Panel Production Warranty
All solar panels come with a 25 year production warranty. When you ask your salesman about the warranty, he says “yeah its 25 years”. To the average consumer that sounds great and in our minds, warranty means anything that’s bad gets covered. But that’s not true. I ask you to read the details of the warranty covered and become familiar with the terms included with a particular solar panel. There are different aspects of every solar panels’ assurance and you need to know that. The 25 year production guarantee which comes with all panels these days means that for 25 years, the panel will perform a certain way. The panel will also lose power every year at a certain rate referred to as the degradation rate. Different solar panels degrade at different rates. For example, the typical solar panel will lose 20% of its ability to perform making it 80% effective over a 25 year production warranty schedule. However, there are panels which degrade or lose power at a slower rate meaning that after 25 years, the panel could potentially have 90% of its power (rather than 80%). This means that the better panel will be producing at higher rates for a longer period of time as compared to the inferior panel described above. Moreover, the production warranty language many manufacturers use stipulate that such production guarantee’s are situational. Situational means that if there is a tree nearby and that tree is over time growing at a rate of 1-2 ft per year, that will be a variable impacting certain panel’s and in some cases, an entire system’s ability to perform. Other variables could be your neighbor who builds a house next door which now due to renovation and height casts a shadow upon your system at certain points of the day or year. Other more concrete variables include the direction or azimuth which your panels face,  the steepness of the roof plane in which your panels are located or the tilt, and even other more meticulous variable such as inverter choice and whether the panels are raised off of the roof or whether they are installed directly onto the roof surface or flush mounted (Flush mounted installs do not give the solar panels the ability to ventilate properly which increases the temperature of the solar panel – a solar panel produces less power per hour of exposure when it is functioning at a higher temperature). I am hoping the word 25 year production warranty is taking on a new meaning for you. Most sales people and companies are not informing customers of this. At Grid City Energy, we focus on these factors and take a globally engineered approach to design and installation of your system. We take every variable into account. Another impacting factor in production warranty is the company which is giving you such warranty. There are various different solar companies out there. Your salesman will offer you what his boss tells him to sell. It could be the cheapest panel from the worst company but that salesman will tell you how great it is. What you need to do is make sure the solar panel which you are buying is at best coming from a diversified company (a company like Panasonic or LG which has a wide global conglomeration of products and a history making electronics) or at a minimum that the panel is made by a tier 1 company that has been around for a very long time. You need to ask yourself “will this company be around in the 24th year of my system to take my phone call and give me service?”
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 In sum, if you hear the words “25 years” for warranty from another company (we hope you call us at 516-308-7878), make sure you
  • Look at the Degradation Schedule to find out the rate in which the panel gets weaker annually and over the course of 25 years
  • Ask your installer (again hopefully us!) about variables which a manufacturer would consider in honoring such warranty and how such variable would impact production
  • Evaluate and make sure the company behind the warranty has a significant, financial, global, and technological footprint in the electronics industry in general and in the solar field.
What happens if I File a Solar Panel Warranty Claim and Win? 
Once a solar panel manufacturer approves a warranty claim, they are required at a minimum to replace the panels which were having issues. They will ship you a solar panel but who will install it? The installer who sold you your solar panels hypothetically sold you a solar panel from a company which was able to answer your call. GREAT! The one thing the installer did not share with you at the time of installation is: Even though you did your research on them manufacturer who had the greatest chances to answer the call, the salesman and manufacturer cannot guarantee that the solar panel replacement at the time of need will be the same dimensions, and technical characteristics as the solar panel originally purchased. The solar panels today in many cases are sized differently from those made 5 and 10 years ago. The aluminum frames could be thicker, taller, and longer, the connectors could be different, the voltages and amperages could create compatibility issues. The clamps and hardware used to secure those different panels may be different and incompatible to the mounting system you have on your roof. Aesthetically, the panels could be different colors (for those of you with panels on the front of your home, having two color panels may be a tough pill to swallow). Just because a manufacturer is offering a panel replacement warranty, it doesn’t mean the panel on your roof. It means they will give you whats available at the time in which the warranty claim is filed. Solar manufacturers do not stockpile your solar panel in their warehouse waiting for your claim. They keep making changes to the panels every year to optimize both performance and manufacturing methods. Are there companies whose panels are more consistent in shape and behavior than others? Yes, but many do make changes over time. A lot can happen in one year, let alone 25 years. Ultimately, it all comes down to your installer to solve these issues. Does your installer have the engineering team in house to go online and hunt down the equipment and fittings necessary to make that solar panel(s) fit your system (Grid City Energy does!)? Does your installer have the local installation team to go out to your home or business and collect the necessary pictures and data needed to adequately ensure replacement go smoothly (Grid City Energy does!)? Does your installer have a the brand reputation, local reputation, and customer-centric attitude which is needed to service and solve such a problem  (Grid City Energy does!)? Most companies don’t want to tell you that they only cover a small piece of the solar customer service picture. They are there to sell you the system but not to service it (They often times sub-contract the work out to a local installer).  
 
In sum, a replaced solar panel under warranty does not translate to a compatible panel because:
  • Solar sales people and companies cannot guarantee the solar panel replacement will work with your current configuration

  • Solar sales people and companies cannot guarantee the solar panel replacement will be the same color

  • Solar sales people and companies may not have the necessary engineering and installation capabilities necessary to handle a solar panel replacement

  • Solar sales people and companies may not have the physical business location and presence in your local market to handle a solar panel replacement.

The article written above only presents one or two aspects of solar energy system warranties. There are other sections of solar panel warranties which were not discussed in this article such as solar panel workmanship warranty, solar panel labor warranty. In addition, there is much to discuss about solar inverters and their respective warranties (and also how those warranties impact solar panel warranties). Last, there is also the mounting system warranty as well as the installer’s workmanship warranty. We will be covering these items in future articles.
 
It has been a pleasure sharing this information with you. The goal of the article was for Grid City Energy to give you a deeper understanding of one of the hundreds of variables which go into a solar panel system investment. Since we are local, we hope that this article helps you view us as a trusted installer you can depend on for a secure solar panel investment. 
 
Call us today at (516) 308-7878 or visit GridCitySolar.com
We serve commercial, residential, and industrial solar customers during all phases of engineering and development.   

My name is David Bar, and I am the VP of a solar energy company, Grid City Energy, https://GridCitySolar.com and we are actively servicing the needs of the commercial and residential markets in Long Island and New York City. I am writing this article because we want to encourage you to reach out to us for your solar needs to eventually become customers. We are not a website which will give your information to 20 different installers all over the internet. We are a local company who will keep the details of your information and your project secure. We do all the work ourselves in house including engineering to installation. I want to share with you certain things that are important for you to know that many installers wouldn’t want you to know or that your salesman wouldn’t know to share with you.

Grid City Energy 375 Pearsall Ave, Cedarhurst, NY 11516 516-308-7878 gridcitysolar.com

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