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A beginner’s guide to Solar Panels

Solar power is a great alternative to traditional sources of power that use fossil fuel for the generation of electricity. People across Australia are realizing the harmful effects this reliance of the depleting source of power can have on their pockets as well as on the environment. Generating electricity with the use of non-renewable sources is not only bad for the environment but is also very expensive. Solar power on the other hand only requires an initial investment with close to no maintenance costs once the solar panels and inverter are installed. Australia is a great location for installing solar powered systems as it receives a favourable amount of sunlight throughout the year. Solar panels only require uninterrupted sunlight (without shade from trees, other buildings, etc.) to generate electricity.

Russel Ohl, patented the world’s first silicon solar cell in 1941. Ohl’s invention led to the production of the first solar panel in 1954 by Bell Laboratories. Solar panels found their first mainstream use in space satellites.

Solar panels consist of a layer of silicon cells, a metal frame, a glass casing surrounded by a special film, and wiring.  For getting the maximum production from the solar panels, they are grouped together next to each other to form an “ordered series” or an “array” and can then be installed on rooftops or in large outdoor spaces. 

All Solar panels come with two types of warranties offered by the manufacturer:

  1. Solar Panel Product Warranty
  2. Solar Panel Performance Warranty

Product Warranty

A solar panel’s product warranty covers the integrity of the solar panel itself, and protects the customer against failures due to manufacturing defects, environmental issues, premature wear and tear, etc. Most solar panel manufacturers warrant that their panels will not fail for at least the first 10 years, and some extend their warranty periods even longer than that. A longer period warranty is more advantageous as you can replace the solar panels completely in case you face any issues. The Product Warranty covers defects in production and materials.  Five years ago it was 10 years for nearly all solar panels, but now it is 12-15 years for most, while an increasing number of manufacturers now offer a 25 year product warranty on their solar panels.

Performance Warranty

The amount of electricity a solar panel produces declines by a very small percentage every year. That’s true of all solar panels, but to varying degrees. A common practice in the solar energy industry is to guarantee that the panels will not lose more than 10%-20% of their power output capacity over the first 25 years. Said another way, panel manufacturers generally guarantee that their solar panels will produce electricity at 80%-90% of their power output rating at the end of 25 years. In other words, a 25 year performance warranty does not cover a panel failure.

The Performance Warranty promises a minimum capacity of a solar panel after 25-30 years.  The lowest performance warranty is 80% of the original capacity. Performance warranties are usually horribly written, but manufacturers can’t use small print to wriggle out of their obligations under the Australian Consumer Guarantees.

The Importance of Product warranty on solar panels

When you install a solar power system for your home or business, by far your most likely scenario is that your solar panels will perform well for a few years. However, it is important to note that problems do occur from time to time, so if you happen to experience a problem with a solar panel after it has been installed, it is important to understand that the rest of your solar power system will not be rendered inoperable. In all likelihood, depending on the nature of the solar panel failure, the rest of your solar power system will continue running with the failed panel left in place. But occasionally panels fail in ways that impact the performance of other solar panels in the array. In either case, it’s the panel’s product warranty that will cover you if you ever need to replace a solar panel causing you issues.

When choosing the right solar panel brand for your home, it is very useful to do your research and evaluate and compare the product warranty coverage of the solar panel manufacturers which will consequently help assure you that your service and support needs will be covered if a solar panel problem ever occurs. Manufacturers’ product warranties are an important complement to other considerations in assessing not only a panel manufacturer’s technical specifications, but also their business practices. In case a solar panel fails, a reputable solar panel manufacturer will ship you a free replacement panel. However, in most cases, they will NOT pay for shipping cost and labor cost to replace it.

Contact Austra Solar today for a free quote on a solar power system for your home! Our Solar experts are available to help guide you to help you choose the right system for your home!

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