Let’s face it – warranties aren’t the easiest (or most gripping) documents to read. There are often a lot of details and fine print included that can be hard to digest, leaving many to wonder: what does the warranty actually cover? Am I vulnerable? Anything I might be missing?
To make it as easy as possible, we’ve read warranty documents for the top solar equipment manufacturers–and talked to them to confirm what is and isn’t included–and plan to point out the most important aspects of each in a series of articles. In this article, we’ll explain the warranty of one of the largest solar panel manufacturers in the world: Q CELLS.
Highlights of Q CELLS’ warranty
- Includes a 25-year product and power warranty
- Covers up to $250 in labor cost through the Q.PARTNER program
- Q CELLS is a Tier 1 (highest) bankable company according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF)
Visit the EnergySage Marketplace to compare solar options from local installers.
Quick overview: Q CELLS’ history and warranty
Founded in Germany in 1999, Q CELLS has been in the solar industry for over 20 years now. They’re now headquartered in Seoul, South Korea, and represent one of the largest solar panel manufacturers in the world. In fact, their manufacturing plant in Dalton, Georgia is the largest solar facility in the Western Hemisphere!
From residential to commercial and industrial (C&I) solar projects, Q CELLS has produced over 23 gigawatts (GW) of solar since 2012. They’re listed by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) as a Tier 1 bankable company, indicating the highest level of bankability – this means that you can feel confident that Q CELLS will be around to fulfill your warranty in the event that something comes up.
Q CELLS' solar panel warranty at a glance
|CATEGORY||Q CELLS' COVERAGE||INDUSTRY STANDARD|
|Product||25 years||10 years|
|Power||86% for DUO BLK ML-G10+, 85% for all other panels at year 25||80% at year 25|
|Labor costs||25 years, up to $250 in labor costs for systems registered through Q.PARTNER program and less than or equal to 25 kW||No|
|Shipping of parts||No||No|
|Extended warranty offering||No||No|
Q CELLS’ product warranty
Also known as a material warranty, a solar panel manufacturer’s product warranty covers the integrity of the equipment itself – if your solar panels have a defect, mechanical issue, or experience unreasonable wear and tear, that should be covered by your product warranty.
If there’s a defect with your solar panel, it’s typically apparent “out-of-the-box”. In other words, you or your installer should be able to tell that something is amiss and fix the problem immediately–often before the panel even makes it to your roof. Regardless, it’s good to consider products with longer warranties for the peace of mind it provides.
Q CELLS includes a 25-year product warranty for all of their solar panels.
Q CELLS’ power warranty
Like every other type of electronic, the performance of your solar panels will degrade over time: fortunately, solar panel manufacturers offer a power (or performance) warranty for their products. Power warranties help protect you against atypical degradation of your solar panels, ensuring that the output of your panels won’t fall below a certain level after a set period of time.
Different types of solar panel technologies degrade at different rates. Generally speaking, the highest quality solar panels offer long power warranties (25 years or more) that guarantee at least 80 percent of the original output by the end of the warranty term.
Q CELLS provides a 25-year power warranty. Their DUO BLK ML-G10+ warranty guarantees that their panels will still produce at least 86% of their original output by the end of the warranty term:
- 98% output at the end of year 1
- No more than 0.5% degradation from years 2-25
- Power output of 86% by year 25
All other Q CELL solar panels for residential use have warranties guaranteeing that they will still produce at least 85% of their original output by the end of the warranty term:
- 98% output at the end of year 1
- No more than 0.54% degradation from years 2-25
- Power output of 85% by year 25
You can review and compare Q CELLS’ solar panels in the EnergySage Buyer’s Guide.
Does Q CELLS offer extended warranties?
Need a little extra protection for peace of mind? Many solar panel manufacturers offer extended warranties for their products. Depending on the company and the product, extended warranties can come at an extra cost, or only be available for certain installers who have been certified and endorsed by the manufacturer.
Q CELLS does not currently offer extended warranties for their solar panels.
Q CELLS workmanship warranty
More often than not, solar installers are the sole party responsible for providing workmanship warranties for a solar installation. However, some manufacturers offer additional protection by tacking on their own workmanship warranty for a limited number of certified installers in their network. Q CELLS does not currently offer a workmanship warranty.
You can learn more about manufacturer endorsements and how they impact installer warranty offerings in this article.
How to make a warranty claim with Q CELLS: shipping & labor costs
Ideally, your solar panel system will continue operating smoothly for 25+ years, and you never have to worry about Q CELLS’ warranty. However, if you experience any defects or performance issues with your solar panel system, Q CELLS will be there to help.
If you notice an issue with your system, your first phone call should be to your original installer: having designed and installed your system, they are the most equipped to diagnose (and fix!) any potential issue.
If your installer determines that you need to replace a piece of equipment–like a solar panel– they can help you file a warranty claim with Q CELLS. You’ll need to include photographs of any visible damage or defects (we recommend having your installer take these photographs if your system is on your roof) and in each photo you’ll need to include the panel’s serial number.
If the damage is not visible in the photographs, you’ll need to work with Q CELLS and your installer to carefully ship the defective panels to Q CELLS at your expense. They will then perform a technical investigation to determine if the damage is warrantied. If Q CELLS can visibly see the damage or defects from the photographs, you won’t need to ship your panels.
If a warranty claim is confirmed by Q CELLS, they will either repair your panel, replace your panel, or provide you with monetary compensation equal to the purchase price of your panel accounting for 4 percent annual depreciation in value. Q CELLS does not cover transportation costs associated with shipping you any replacement panels or parts.
Your original installer will be the best-suited to replace the equipment. Importantly, Q CELLS will cover up to $250 in labor costs for repair or replacement of solar panels if you register your system through their Q.PARTNER program, as long as your system is less than or equal to 25 kilowatts (kW). If your installer covers repairs in their workmanship warranty and you’re still within their warranty term, you may have the labor covered already, but be aware that workmanship warranties vary from one installation company to the next–so remember to read your installer’s workmanship warranty thoroughly before signing any contract!
Unfortunately, solar installers can go out of business, and you may find yourself in a position where you can no longer call the business that installed your system for help. Because Q CELLS does not provide coverage for labor costs in their warranty, you will likely have to pay for the labor to replace any solar panels.
Limitations and exceptions to Q CELLS’ warranty
Every warranty has its exceptions – Q CELLS’ is no different. Warranty limitations aren’t meant to make it harder for you to take advantage of the offering; companies simply try to protect themselves from unjust or unreasonable claims.
Here are a few things that aren’t covered in your Q CELLS warranty:
- Defects or damage caused by extreme environmental events (i.e., acid rain or snow, blowing sand, saltwater air, pollution, fires, etc.)
- Defects or damage caused by extreme weather events (i.e., lightning, hail, frost, extreme temperatures, earthquakes, tornadoes, etc.)
- Damage caused by unapproved usage, transport, storage, installation, or handling
- Damage caused by improper or inadequate service, operation, or maintenance
Other warranty considerations, and how Q CELLS stacks up
- Bankability: Q CELLS is a highly bankable company; in fact, they are listed as a Tier 1 (most bankable) company by BNEF and are backed by Fortune Global 500 company Hanwha.
- Escrows/insurance policies: Q CELLS does not have insurance policies or an escrow that ensures their warranties will be upheld if they go out of business.
- Customer reviews: another critical aspect of understanding a manufacturer’s warranty offering is investigating how their customers feel about their equipment and the services they provide. Any warranty can look promising on paper, but how the installer or manufacturer performs when honoring their warranty is also critically important. If you are interested in reading Q CELLS’ reviews, you can do so on their EnergySage company profile.
Finding the right solar panels for you
Finding the right solar panel system for your home means comparing multiple quotes from solar installers. Using the EnergySage Marketplace, you can find local solar installers near you, and make easy side-by-side comparisons of all your solar options, including equipment. By shopping around first, you can find the right option at the right price – warranties and all. If you have a preference for one type of equipment over another–Q CELLS or otherwise–simply note it in your account when you sign up so installers can quote you accordingly.