Home Power Magazine issue - 146 Silicon Energy Industry Leading Power Warranty


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Silicon Energy, a US manufacturer of solar photovoltaic modules, offers customers an industry leading power warranty as noted in this Home Power Magazine article.

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Home Power Magazine issue - 146 Silicon Energy Industry Leading Power Warranty

  1. 1. 52 home power 146 • december 2011 & january 2012PV 2012WarrantyEvery PV module carries two distinct types of warranty—amaterials (or workmanship) warranty and a power warranty.The materials warranty covers the module’s parts andworkmanship. It is critical to read the fine print, but amaterials/workmanship guarantee generally provides serviceor replacement of defective modules by the manufacturer.Some of the limitations are based on the parts that modulemanufacturers use to assemble modules, such as quick-connects and sealed junction boxes, which have their ownwarranties from their own manufacturers. Of the morethan 830 modules on the list, 500 carry at least a five-yearmaterials/workmanship warranty and about 250 are at 10years.A module’s power warranty guarantees that the modulewill produce a certain percent of its rated STC power (Pmp,minus any power tolerance) for a given period of time. Acommon warranty is 90% of rated power for up to 10 years and80% for up to 25 years. Silicon Energy and MAGE Solar offer30-year, 80% rated-power warranties—tops on the list. (SiliconEnergy also offers a best-of-list 15-year, 90% rated-powerwarranty.) All of the modules that have 10-year materialswarranties have at least 25-year, 80% rated-power warranties....and Cost!Compare all the stats you want: the majority of consumerdecisions are made first and foremost on price, and module priceshave decreased for the last several years. Global fluctuations indemand have and will likely continue to occur—entire nationshave implemented, adjusted, and/or repealed various incentivesfor grid-connected PV systems. Furthermore, it takes time formanufacturers to scale up to meet demand. Combine these twofactors, and the result is a market where supply can, and oftendoes, exceed demand.Solarbuzz is a company that tracks PV industry price trends(see www.solarbuzz.com). Their retail module price index showsmodules at an all-time low of $2.65 per W as of September 2011,around half of what modules cost at the start of 2002. These areretail prices, with distribution and installer markups included, anddo not take bulk pricing into consideration. Many modules areavailable for less than $2 per W, with some below $1.50 per W.Many utilities and states are reducing rebates for PV systems.Fortunately, this corresponds with all-time-low module prices,meaning system costs are decreasing ($ per installed watt) aswell. As in any market, prices will continue to fluctuate based onsupply, demand, and government support of the industry.When thinking about purchasing cheap modules, realize thatyou might get what you pay for. Quality matters, and often itbecomes a factor over time. Consider how long your modulemanufacturer has been around. Reputation must be earned, andword of mouth has impact.Module prices aren’t part of this list because, like any commodity,price isn’t fixed, but rather depends on who you know, how manyyou buy, and what overall manufacturing price trends are.Module Price IndexSilicon Energy’s power warranty is 15 years at 90% of ratedoutput, and 30 years at 80%. Module prices aren’t part of this list because, like anycommodity, price isn’t fixed, but rather depends onwho you know, how many you buy, and what overallmanufacturing price trends are.2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 201120025.505.004.504.003.503.002.502.00CostperWattUnited States ($) Europe (€)Courtesy Silicon EnergyPercentofRatedWattsWarranty Period (years)70%75%80%85%90%95%100%0 5 10 15 20 25 30STC Rating (including tolerance)80% for 25 yrs.90% for 10 yrs.80% for 25 yrs. Linear(0.8% per year)*Blue line is worst case for a stepped power warrantyTypical Power WarrantiesData Courtesy Solarbuzz