Schott Solar AG, the German solar panel manufacturer, will extendguarantee conditions for two of its photovoltaic module lines. As reportedby Renewable Energy World, the group will now offer a “25-yearperformance guarantee on glass-foil modules and a 30-year guarantee ondouble glass modules.” Earlier this month, Schott announced its plans to raise the warranty to 25 years on its line of POLY panels:
“This warranty extension further reinforces SCHOTTSolar’s position as a high quality manufacturer of photovoltaicmodules,” said Mark Finocchario, President and CEO of SCHOTT Solar. “Weare able offer our customers a 25-year performance warranty because ofour strict manufacturing controls. Independent tests have proven timeand again the excellent longevity and performance stability of SCHOTTSolar’s quality modules.”
When it comes to solar PV, product warranties are particularlyimportant for a number of reasons. First, all solar panels slowlydegrade over time. A 220-watt panel today, for instance, inevitablyproduces less electricity that it will 15 or 20 years down the line.While such degradation is slow — and while some panels manufactured inthe 1970s are still putting out power — manufacturers offerdecades-long warranties to reassure the buyer that their products willperform as advertised. A typical warranty in the industry guaranteesthat a panel will produce electricity for 10 years at 90 percent of itsrated power output, and for 20 years at 80 percent of its rated poweroutput.
Second, in order to function, panels must be outside — which meansthat they’re exposed to nature’s elements. The quality of a panel’sglazing and casing are important considerations, and are usuallyincluded in warranty provisions. Be sure to read the details, however —some panel makers limit coverage if the panels are placed in unusuallyharsh conditions, like marine environments.
Finally, while interest has grown in recent years, solar PV has yetto hit the mainstream. Potential buyers have a lot of questions and, insome instances, concerns. To be successful, manufacturers of PVequipment must back their products. End of story. Interestingly,there’s been something of a herd effect within the industry: onemanufacturer raising the warranty bar increases pressure on all othersto do so as well. We’ll see if Schott’s recent moves contribute to thistrend.
Stay tuned. Next time I’ll be writing about rated power output and output tolerance. Fun stuff!