Using sustainable solar energy to power up homes has paved a way for homeowners to save money on electricity bills and reduce their carbon footprint.
Though installation of solar panels has high-upfront costs, the money you save through the solar power over the time is supposedly worth the investment. But this only possible if the solar panels last for a very long time.
If you are wondering how long does a solar panel actually last, then you have to come to the right place. Here, we will explore the details of solar panel lifespan, what affects their lifespan and other information.
Can We Accurately Estimate Solar Panel Lifespan?
Most homeowners are interested in installing solar panels to reduce their electricity bills. So, it makes to predict the lifespan to analyse whether they can offer the long-term value you are seeking.
Solar panel lifespan is a problem because they don’t produce the same amount for 20 years and then suddenly stop producing any electricity. They slowly lose power over time and become less efficient as they age. To get maximum energy generation, homeowners must decide when to replace the panels.
Because data shows that 25 years is the industry’s average lifespan for solar panels, it’s the time during which most people receive enough production to meet their homes’ energy consumption.
How Long do Solar Panels Last?
As the solar panels haven’t been in the market for not too long, so predicting the actual life expectancy of solar panels is a little bit difficult. Actually, there are a very small portion of residential panels that are older than 10 years.
But manufacturers have pretty accurate predictions when it comes how long the solar panels last. They predict this based on the degradation rate. The rate of degradation determines the speed at which the panels lose the efficiency or output over the time.
Fortunately, modern solar panels come with extremely low degradation rate which is around 0.2% to 0.3%. This means that solar panels lose a little of total capacity over the time. And to say in simple terms, solar panels last really long time.
What is Solar Degradation Rate?
Over the time, solar panels tend to lose the ability to absorb sunlight and transform it into solar energy. This can happen for different factors like hotter weather and the natural reduction in chemical potency within the panel. This losing ability is known as the “degradation ratio”.
Panels that have lower degradation rate are considered better panels. Because the lower degeneration rate will generate more energy over its lifespan.
Degradation rates differ from one brand to the next. Panels with higher quality have a lower rate of degradation than panels with lower quality. It is worth considering this when comparing solar panels. In the end, it may make more sense to invest more in higher-quality panels.
A study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) states that, premium solar panel manufacturers panels with low degradation rates of as 0.30% annually. The worst possible degradation rate is.80% per year. However, as a guideline, you can expect a.50% average degradation rate for all panels.
The degradation rate for most Tier 1 solar panels is 0.30%. This means that the panels performance decreases by .30% each year. This adds up over 25 years to 6.96%, which means your panels will be able to operate at 93.04% in 2045.
Your panels will be degraded by.50% every year if you buy Tier 2 panels. After a 25-year warranty they will still work at 88.67% of what they were designed to. You can expect Tier 2 solar panels to perform well for 25 years, unless they break, are defectively manufactured, or are beyond repair.
Factors That Impact the Lifespan of Solar Panels
Your expected lifespan of your solar panels will depend on the equipment you use, where you live, how you maintain them, and many other factors. We have mentioned them clearly below for your preference.
1. Weather Conditions
Your panels can be affected by different weather conditions, such as:
Wind- Although wind has very little effect on the efficiency of solar panels, it can cause vibrations at high winds. These vibrations can cause damage to other components over time if they continue for a prolonged period and at any frequency.
Rain – If the panels are not placed at an angle that is sufficient, rain can collect on them and cause corrosion. The corrosion can lead to a decrease in the effectiveness of solar panels and a reduction in the amount they can produce.
Sun – When exposed to high heat, the solar panel’s seals can become brittle and allow in water. The panels may become less efficient at converting sunlight into electricity if there is moisture. The discoloration that can occur from prolonged exposure to high heat can also affect the efficiency of solar panels.
Snow – Like heat, snow can cause solar panel frames crack, warp and distort due to the freezing temperatures. You will likely see a decrease in the electricity output of your solar panels if this happens.
Regular service and checks are essential in order to maintain solar panel efficiency. Your system’s overall maintenance and repair history could have an impact on the expected life expectancy of your solar panels. It is important to identify any problems early so that your solar power system can last longer. This is why it is worth investing in regular panel monitoring and service.
The location of your solar panel can have an impact on the effectiveness and life expectancy of your solar power system. Because weather conditions are different by region, solar panel degradation can occur quicker if there is extreme heat or freezing temperatures.
In areas with a lot of snow, for example, the snow can cause the frame of the panel to break off from the panel. This exposes the solar cells and reduces the system’s life expectancy by a few years. Temperature changes of large magnitude can also cause seasonal contraction and expansion. This can lead to solar panels developing microcracks that can accelerate their degrading rate.
How Can I Extend the Life of a Solar Panel?
You’ll get years of free energy if you take care of your solar panels. You can help your panels in a number of ways, including:
- Preventing physical damage to the panels. The higher the rate of degrading, the greater the chance of scratches.
- Regular maintenance checks: Look out for loose racks and cracks on the panel’s surface, as well as exposed wires.
- Keep your panels clean – Especially after stormy or snowy weather to remove any debris
- Ensure panels are properly installed – Research solar manufacturers and installers to verify their track record for successful installations
- Birds and other animals should be kept away from panels- Pigeons can decrease efficiency by covering panels with poo and climbing on the surface
How to Make your Solar Panels Last Longer?
You can see that some factors that cause solar panel degradation can be controlled, while others cannot. There are many steps you can take in order to make the most of your solar panel.
A trusted provider is one of the best ways for your solar panels to last longer. Trusted providers will ensure that you receive high-quality panels made of quality material. A good provider will also ensure that the panels are correctly installed. A good provider of solar energy will also provide regular maintenance to make sure that everything is in working order.
You can also do things to prolong the life of your solar panels. You can take care to clean your solar panels of any debris, such as snow and branches. One of the best ways extend your panels’ lifespan is to keep them clean.
When Should you Consider Replacing Solar Panels?
Your solar energy system might not be working efficiently if you start to notice an increase in your energy bills after 25 years. This could be a sign that you need to get new solar panels.
Many solar companies offer apps and physical trackers to monitor your solar electricity generation. You can spot any anomalies by knowing the average energy output of your panels.
If your panels produce 35 kWh per week, and then you notice that this drops to 32 kWh and then 30 kWh over time, and there isn’t any visible debris or shade increase over your roof, this could indicate that your panels may be starting to fail. It is time to replace your panels if your panels stop producing enough electricity for your home.
What Happens to the Old Solar Panels?
You have the option to sell, donate, or recycle your old solar panels. You shouldn’t expect a high price if you decide to sell them. There is very little demand for solar equipment. It is best to recycle them or dispose of them as e-waste.
Tips to Make Your Home Solar Panels Last Longer
1. Choose a proper location for installation
The location of the solar panel should be selected in such a way that they are always exposed to ample amounts of sunlight but protected from external damage. Apart from regular exposure to the environment, there are other factors such as shocks and impacts that can easily damage the solar panels.
2. Buy reliable and durable solar panels
If you are deciding to install a system for the long term, it is crucial to choose a reliable and durable brand for solar panels. Not only will you get a highly durable solar panel, but you will also receive a long warranty period from the brand, which will cover performance degradation along with internal damage to the solar panels.
3. Keep an eye on the battery
If you have a battery-based solar system, you need to keep checking the health of your battery along with solar panels. The batteries store the energy produced by solar panels. If your battery is damaged, your solar panel’s efficiency will be automatically decreased as you won’t be able to utilize it to its full potential. Always choose a premium battery for your system and make sure that it has enough capacity to store the electricity generated by your solar panel array.
4. Call a professional for installation
Most solar panels get damaged at the time of installation. The solar panels are heavy units, and they require special care while installing. Thus, it is recommended to get a professional while installing a solar panel so that you won’t have to deal with damaged solar panels. Along with proper installation, a professional will also guide you on the best possible location for the installation of the solar panel.
The life expectancy of a solar panel depends on its type, location, maintenance schedule, and brand.
Extreme temperatures, wind and snow can cause damage to your panel’s components. You should also be aware of dirt and debris that may build up on your panel’s surface, as they can affect its efficiency.
The best way to ensure your solar panels last a long time is to find a provider who offers a solid warranty.
We hope the information provided in this article has helped you clarify the doubts pertaining to solar panels and their life expectancy. If you still have any questions, write to us in the comment section below. We will reply to them at the earliest.