Solar Panels Last
How Long Do Solar Panels Actually Last

How Long Do Solar Panels Actually Last

How long do solar panels actually last? That’s a common question that many homeowners want to know before making a purchase. Solar panels are an excellent way to reduce your energy costs. They make your home so much more efficient.

Solar panels are an excellent investment for many reasons. How long do they last though?

The Life Span of a Solar Panel

So how long do solar panels actually last? The truth is that solar panels have quite a long life span. Most homeowners who invest in solar panels reap their benefits for many years without having any problems at all. Most solar panel companies offer a 25-year limited warranty. It is safe to say that your new solar panels will last for at least that long. When you think of how much money you will save in that amount of time it’s easy to know that solar panels really are the way to go.

They are worth every cent that you invest and will pay you back year after year for that whole 25 years if they are taken care of properly. Solar panels are also environmentally friendly. When you use solar panels for your home’s energy you are doing your part to help reduce the pollution that is created when electricity is made by other means.

Effects of Exposure To The Elements and Sun

The most common problem that homeowners experience over time is that after so many years the ability of the solar panel to absorb light is reduced. It takes many, many years for this to happen. If you live in an area where the weather is hotter you may experience a faster degradation rate. The degradation rate of a solar panel partially depends on climate. Exposure the certain elements may make your solar panels degrade more quickly.

Solar panels that are exposed to harsh wintery elements such as frequent hail will degrade faster. Anything like hail that falls down upon the solar panels can cause microbreaks on the surface. Solar panels that are placed where rocks or trees often fall could potentially be damaged as well. Try to place your solar panels in a location where they will have the least amount of exposure to any of the above.

Shade Can Decrease Energy Output

As time passes trees will grow. When you first have your solar panels installed there may be nothing in their way to shade them. Over time though the surrounding trees will grow taller. 25 years down the road these nearby trees will be much taller and a reduction in efficiency may not be caused by the solar panel itself but rather the lesser amount of sunlight the panels are able to receive.

If you find that your energy costs are going up one of the first things you should do before blaming your solar panels is to check and see if any branches of surrounding trees are creating shade on your panels. You may find that once those branches are removed your energy costs will drop again.

The Rate Of Degradation Solar panels

Due to factors such as hotter weather and the natural decrease in chemical potency within the panel, solar panels lose their ability to absorb sunlight and convert it into solar energy over time. The “degradation rate” is the term used to describe this.

The panel is better if its degradation rate is low. A lower degradation rate means a solar panel will produce more energy over its lifetime.

The rate of degradation of solar panels also depends on how well they are made. Higher quality, well-made solar panels will last longer than poorly designed or cheaper models. Brand name does matter when it comes to choosing solar panels if you want them to last. Be sure to choose which make and model you buy carefully. Compare brands for quality. It pays off, in the long run, to spend a little more.

Premium modern solar panel manufacturers such as Panasonic and LG, according to a National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) study, offer panels with degradation rates as low as 0.30 percent per year.

There are three types of solar panels:

  • Solar panels 1 type have a degradation rate of 0.25 %
  • Solar panels 2 type have a degradation rate of 0.50 %
  • Solar panels 3 type have a degradation rate that is yet higher of 0.75%
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The Rate Of Degradation Solar panels

What this all means is that panel type 1 panel will last the longest.
Panel type 2 panels will still be working at a 94% functioning rate after 25 years though. Tier 3 panels are the cheaper ones. If you want your solar panels to stay the best, choose type panel 1 or type 2.

Is it true that solar panels deteriorate over time

For the first 25 years good quality, brand-name solar panels should have no problems. Should mother nature cause a problem that causes damage to your solar panels it will be covered in your warranty. After that 25 year time period is up it’s important to watch for the beginning signs that you may need to consider replacing your solar panels with newer, up to date, higher efficiency solar panels.

Signs include an increase in your energy bill. If you are noticing a gradual monthly increase in your energy costs it’s a surefire sign that your solar panels are not working as well as they used to. Each solar panel manufacturer has its own warranty policy, so read the fine print to ensure that your panels are covered in any circumstance.

According to an NREL study, only about 5 out of 10,000 solar panels have failed since 2000.

When should you think about replacing your solar panels?

Another sign that it may be time to replace your solar panels is visual damage on the surface of solar panels. It’s always a good idea to inspect your solar panels every now and then for as long as you have them. However, this becomes even more important once they are at that 25-year mark. Check them more often for cracks, etc. If they are damaged they will need to be repaired or replaced.

Many solar companies provide apps or physical trackers that allow you to track your solar electricity generation on a monthly or even daily basis. Knowing the typical amount of energy output from your panels will aid you in detecting any anomalies.

Solar Panels: Parts and Repair

It is not always necessary to replace the entire solar panel. Many times a solar panel can be repaired. The most common things that go wrong with a solar panel are hardware-related. It’s a good idea to check the solar battery, the inverter, and the racking. These parts can easily be repaired or replaced.

  • Changing out the racking

The racking system is more exposed to the elements, including sun, rain, snow, and extreme temperatures, because it is drilled into the roof to hold the panels.

  • Inverter replacement

Every 10-15 years, you should replace your inverter. The solar inverter, in most cases, will need to be replaced during the lifetime of your solar system because it is the tool that converts DC electricity into AC electricity for use in your home.

  • Changing out your solar battery

Solar batteries, such as the Tesla Powerwall, are an add-on to your solar system that store excess solar energy.

Solar batteries are typically covered by a 10-year warranty, which is when their performance starts to deteriorate. To maintain peak performance after ten years, you may need to replace them. If you buy a battery, make sure to check the warranty information provided by the manufacturer.

Syncing your roof maintenance with solar panel maintenance and replacement is one way to keep your solar system running smoothly. A typical roof needs to be replaced every 25 years or so, depending on the type of roof shingles used, which is the ideal time to replace your solar panels.

Once these parts are replaced, if they are found to be the problem, your solar panel will work like new again. Buying new parts and choosing to make repairs is much less expensive than replacing the entire solar panel. It is normal for parts such as the inverter and the solar battery to need to be replaced every 10 to 15 years.

If The Solar Panels Aren’t Broken – Don’t Fix It

Some makes and models of solar panels reach their 25-year mark and still work perfectly fine. If they are inspected regularly and no signs of damage are present there is no need to worry about replacing them so long as they are still producing enough energy to meet your needs.

There’s an old saying that says if it’s not broke then don’t fix it. If they work fine leave them be until you notice that they are not working fine. If there are no signs that there is a problem even after 30 years they are fine. Leave well enough alone.

Do Your Research On Solar Panel Maintenance and Inspection

Do some research on your own to know what to look for when inspecting your solar panels yourself. If you aren’t sure what to look for hire a professional to perform yearly checks if your dealer does not have one or suggest a technician that can do that for you.

Is it possible to make a solar panel last longer?

A good dealer will also make sure that your warranty is fully honored should you need to fall back on it. It’s very important to ask your dealer what exactly is covered on the warranty, and what is not.

Solar panels are generally low-maintenance because they are designed to withstand harsh weather conditions such as snow, hail, and wind. Solar panels have a lower chance of “breaking down” or requiring repair because they do not require moving parts.

Even though solar panels can last for a long time if they are left alone, routine care and maintenance can help them last longer. You can follow these simple steps to maintain and extend the life of your PV system:

  • Use a reputable solar installer who performs regular maintenance checks. Maintenance checks can detect any degradation in the quality of the panels, as well as any problems with the roof-mounted racking and whether or not the inverter is properly connected. Solar panels will perform better if the system is running smoothly.
  • If your panels are dirty, keep them clean by washing them with water. Dust and sand can cause microcracks and scratches on the solar panel if they are left on it for too long. These cracks can grow and eventually break the panel if they are not addressed.
  • Debris such as fallen tree branches and snow loads should be removed. Because they put more pressure on the panel, falling branches or hail can do even more damage than dust or sand. Small branches left on panels can cause scratches and add a lot of weight to panels if they pile up. Falling branches can break panels outright, but small branches left on panels can cause scratches and add a lot of weight if they pile up.
  • If snow is left on the panels, it can freeze, causing microcracks as a result of the extreme cold. To relieve excess pressure and reduce the likelihood of microcracks, it is best to remove all debris from panels.

Choose Your Dealer Carefully

When you make your solar panel purchase be sure that your dealer is knowledgeable, professional, and able to assist you in the future. I cannot stress enough how important it is to compare dealers before making a purchase. Solar panels are quite an investment and having a good dealer can make all the difference in the world. A good dealer will be sure to offer solar panel parts and services. You should be able to go back to them any time you ever have a problem, question, or need service.

Solar Panels Are a Great Investment That Will Last For Years To Come

If you are considering investing in solar panels I would definitely say go for it. They are a great investment that will last for years to come. Even if your solar panels only last 25 years think of all of the money you will have saved, or even earned, in that 25 years. It is amazing when you really break it down and do the math. Solar panels, when regularly inspected and maintained, have very few problems. Be careful where you have your new solar panels installed. Try to ensure that they will be as protected from the elements as is possible.

Remember, shade can decrease the energy output. Cutting back branches may be all you need to do if you notice an increase in your energy costs. Every 10 to 15 years you may need to replace your solar battery and or inverter. This is normal. Not replacing these parts will cost you more in the end. It is better to make small repairs than it is to buy a whole new solar panel.

Conclusions

  • Most solar panels have a 25-year lifespan and a 0.50% annual degradation rate.
  • Solar panels do not “go bad,” and they are only rarely defective or broken.
  • Within the 25-year lifespan of solar panels, inverters and batteries will need to be replaced.
  • Maintaining your solar panels properly will help them last longer.


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Thomas Harder

Is an environmental and renewable energy specialist with over 10 years of expertise within the renewable and solar industry. With over a decade of experience in various organizations within the field He runs Mysolarperks as a passion-driven project that promotes sustainable renewable energy ideas and products.
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