Almost every single solitary manufacturer will tell you that their panel will last for at least twenty years. In fact, the industry standard is twenty-five years. There is no polite answer to this question but I will give it my best shot without stepping on too many toes. If you are the type of homeowner that goes out to purchase a solar panel and has no stomach for risk then stick with one of the companies that have been in business for at least five years like Kyocera or Canadian Solar. You will pay top dollar for one of these panels but they mean it when they tell you that the panel will last for 20 years. In fact, Canadian Solar has just inked a deal with Ikea Australia so you may be able to pick these beautiful babies right off of the shelf very soon. In a previous article I talked about the CS6X-305M solar panels that are easy to maintain, give you strong solar efficiency, and possess a pronounced rectangular design that will appeal to a large number of homeowners and the DIY crowd.
The reason I talk about Kyocera and Canadian Solar is that manufacturers of home solar panels have been increasing their warranties every year. That is great, but what happens when that quarter of a century warranty vanishes when the solar manufacturer goes out of business? This means that when and if the time arrives that the company needs to honor the warranty, the homeowner who has purchased solar panels is going to call the manufacturer and get a recording that says, “This number is no longer in service.”
Are there cheaper panels? Yes. But please let me give you a little more advice here so you will not be mesmerized by the glow of cheap solar panels. A few years ago I was speaking to one of the sponsors of the Solar Decathlon which is given each year by the United States Department of Energy. This particular sponsor is one of the nation’s premiere electrical companies who provided the detailed electrical schematics that make our governmental IT units function relatively seamlessly and they gross a billion dollars each and every year. This billion dollar company opened a new unit for solar, dedicated significant resources to the new unit, and were convinced that they could put a solar array on every roof. Furthermore, they provide a state-of-the-art warranty for all of its work. However, what they found when they did their testing on lots of different brands of solar panels was that there were only a few manufacturers who were accurate when providing the technical specifications of each panel. In fact, there was so much fluctuation in wattage that they decided to shut down their solar division because they could not provide the same warranty that had made their company famous.
So the moral of the story is this: If you stray off of the beaten path and go with a cheaper solar panel, make sure that the price reflects what may be a big sacrifice in quality. You will need to assume that the company will be out of business when and if you need to replace the panel. And with that said, make sure that you buy at least 15% more panels than you need so you will have replacement panels on hand when the time comes for a panel to be replaced.
See You Next Time! Dr. Stripling