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Limitation Act 1980 and Solar Panels - Hypothetical Question

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Pretext:

 

Have been looking into the possibility of building a solar panel from scratch as part of an allotment project. Bit of fun more than anything.

 

Discovered one of the major hurdles with building any solar panel (commercial or otherwise) is condensation and water vapour. It can severely damage the panel and reduce output, sometimes destroying it altogether.

 

One of the ways they deal with this in commercial panels is to encapsulate the solar cells in a resin or epoxy, which are usually silicone based. Apart from being horrendously expensive to purchase, research is starting to show these encapsulants may still allow moisture to permeate. (You also have to wonder how "green" these resins and epoxies actually are!)

 

Problem is there is not a lot of long-term data to state with any certainty how durable these solar panels actually are, especially in the UK climate.

 

Many manufacturers and green organisations state panels can be expected to last 25 years or more. Installation guarantees are typically 5 years; product workmanship guarantees vary between 5 and 10 years; power output guarantees are usually 25 years. The expected payback time of a solar array is usually around 10 years.

 

The question:

 

If one or more commercial solar panels fail, in reality what protection does the consumer really have? Assuming of course these failures start to occur several years down-track.

 

Are these guarantees really worth the paper they are written on?

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Solar panels for generating hot water or for electricity ?

 

If the latter, the green credentials for a panel is questionable. One only needs to look at the high levels of pollutants generated during the manufacture of the cells to see that it is a very dirty business.


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The guarantees are only worth anything if they are backed by some form of Insurance I would have thought. Especially if the company crashes !


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Solar panels for generating hot water or for electricity?

 

Would happen to agree (for the moment) although this is for an off-grid application.

 

The guarantees are only worth anything if they are backed by some form of Insurance I would have thought. Especially if the company crashes !

 

Nothing like this mentioned by the companies I've seen so far! Do wonder whether these panels are a bit of a ticking time-bomb.

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this is for an off-grid application.

 

Have you considered a small wind turbine ?

 

There are a number of designs based around car alternators which are low cost, easily repaired, and recyclable. If you need constant power without relying on the vagaries of solar or wind, stirling engines is another area to look at - NASA use advanced stirling engines for some of their projects which are about as "off grid" as you can get.


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Have you considered a small wind turbine ?

 

There are a number of designs based around car alternators which are low cost, easily repaired, and recyclable. If you need constant power without relying on the vagaries of solar or wind, stirling engines is another area to look at - NASA use advanced stirling engines for some of their projects which are about as "off grid" as you can get.

 

I have and we're building one of those too, but that isn't the focus of this thread! Thank you anyway though :-)

 

Just wanted to know the legal basis of how consumers are protected in a commercial scenario, where these "guarantees" of 5, 10 or 25 years are commonly quoted. Especially since the Limitation Act 1980 only provides a period of 6 years to claim in relation to contract. Would the 6 years commence from the date of installation/purchase, or would it occur any time within the "guarantee" period where the product becomes defective.

 

CitizenB raised a very good point: these guarantees probably need to be backed up by an insurance policy to really provide peace of mind. And this isn't something you really see mentioned when dealing with PV companies.

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Would the 6 years commence from the date of installation/purchase, or would it occur any time within the "guarantee" period where the product becomes defective.

The six years starts from the date of the breach of contract.

 

 

So, if you have a 20 year guarantee which says the manufacturer will fix a problem within 30 days, and the panel breaks in year 15, the 6 years would run from the end of that 30 day period.


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Thanks for clearing that up :)

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