Warranty – are all warranties equal? What do I get in the real world?
This is the most variable topic since this has nothing to do with engineering nor physics but the arcane world of customer service. Basically, the answer is a resounding no…they are not all equal.
- You have two parts to your warranty – installers warranty and manufacturer’s warranty. Between them do they cover all eventualities?
- Most installer warranties – if decent – should have an insurance backed 10-year guarantee for a Solar PV system, but this probably won’t cover the battery system.
- Do you understand what the warranty covers? This may seem a simple question but when you consider that some state a certain DoD over time or total throughput of MWh as a limit to warranty did that make sense?
- Does the manufacturer’s warranty cover you for replacement of the product in case of failure or only a part re-imbursement of value as related to age of product? If so are you happy with this?
Advertising can be misleading… you may think that because a picture or logo (this one for example) appears to say 15 years on it that you have a 15-year warranty. In this case it means that parts will be available for 15 years and has no relation to the total product warranty.
We all have an opinion on what we expect to happen in the case of a fault – sadly you are often mistaken. Let’s look at the two parts that cover you.
Let us look at the simpler one of the two first – If the product fails due to poor installation this is clearly a case of the installer being liable to repair/replace the product during their warranted period. Most decent companies will warrant work that they have supplied and fitted for a 10-year term for Solar PV. In some cases, there will be an insurance backed guarantee that supports this but that is unlikely to cover the battery installation as well.
Please be aware though that your installation warranty may vary from as little as one year upwards. Please read the T&C’s of your install agreement and related quote before signing. If you are unsure please ask for clarification, in writing if necessary. However, plain language should already have been used by all reasonable companies.
Many installer warranties will NOT cover the installation/re-installation cost of a new product supplied from the manufacturer under warranty. You may think this is very unlikely – I only WISH that were so… This is vital because MOST manufacturers warranties exclude re-installation costs of a new product.
The manufacturer’s warranty.
We all know that if a product has a manufacturing fault in it then it will most likely fail quickly. After this initial period, you would hope for a long period of normal usage, eventually followed by increased chance of failure due to age and wear and tear. This is often called the “Bathtub Curve”. Realistically most manufacturers warranties cover the length of time up until the start of the wear out phase – caveated on the operating conditions it is used within.
Again, the devil is in the details. They vary enormously from a comprehensive full-service guarantee to requesting that the person un-installs the unit and ships it back to the factory for testing by themselves before they approve a replacement unit. In the latter case this basically means that you must diagnose or do the engineering yourself and sort the shipping and re-installation as in the worst-case scenario you bought it from an installer who’s warranty only covers faults arising from installation errors as in the section above.
Get it in writing and then overlap the warranty with what the installer company warrants and make sure you are covered. The responsibility rests on your shoulders – there is a reason why things are sometimes called “small print” … if in doubt ask…I hope this helps – all I can say is to read the small print, ask questions and be sure about what you are getting.
Written by John Rowlatt