When you invest in something sustainable like solar panels, the most significant query is how durable they are. Solar panels are meant to last for years, if not a couple of decades. However, this life expectancy depends on how you use the panels and whether you invest in their maintenance.
Over the last few years, the cost of installation has also significantly decreased. It makes solar panels exceptionally accessible, which further promotes the use of green energy. If you are apprehensive about the lifespan of solar panels, you can always trust the warranties they come with too!
Continue reading to find out more about how long solar panels last of solar panels and how you can improve their lifespan.
- 1 What is the life expectancy of solar panels?
- 2 What is solar panel degradation?
- 3 How are solar panels degraded?
- 4 How to improve the life expectancy of a solar panel system?
- 5 To conclude with
What is the life expectancy of solar panels?
A solar panel system can last you anywhere between 5 years to 25 years. The average lifespan of a solar system is 20 to 25 years. The latest solar panel on the market have an expected lifespan of 40 to 50 years. However, a large number of factors define and influence the amount of time it takes for your solar panels to give in.
Naturally, solar panels last longer if they are taken care of. While you may not have control over every natural factor that affects the life expectancy of solar panels, you can take precautionary steps.
You can reduce the degradation rate of your solar panels by performing regular maintenance checks and repairs.
One of the significant reasons solar panels can last you over 25 years is their design. Most conventional solar panels have no moving parts, and they are not moved once installed stationarily. This reduces the chances of physical damage and also helps cut costs of repairs and maintenance.
On the other hand, solar trackers are prone to more mechanical damage, thus reducing their life expectancy.
A few high-quality solar panels can also last up to 50 years, provided you look after them adequately. You can make your solar panels last, too, by preventing physical damage.
What is solar panel degradation?
As the name suggests, solar panel degradation refers to the reduction in the efficiency of solar panels over time. In most solar panel systems, the rate by which electricity production decreases every year is standard.
On average, the solar panel degradation rate is 0.5% per year. This level of degradation is standard in almost all types of panels. However, in case you fail to look after your solar system, this degradation rate is bound to increase exponentially.
So, what does a 0.5% of degradation rate mean? Simply put, your solar system will lose about 0.5% of its efficiency every year. So, the year you install it, your system will run at approximately 100% efficiency, but it will decrease to 99.5% after one year.
The amount of electricity generated by your solar system will get affected, along with how fast it converts solar radiation to usable forms of electricity. You must remember that 0.5% is just an average figure.
If you do not look after your solar panel system, this percentage could shoot up, degrading your panels at an alarming rate.
Even high-quality panels are not immune to this degradation. However, solar panel manufacturers provide their customers with good warranties.
Once installed, companies provide customers with warranties of about 25 years. By the end of this period, your panel is bound to have an efficiency rate of about 87%, as solar panels lose about 13% of the total.
How are solar panels degraded?
So, what causes solar panels to degrade? There could be a wide range of external factors that could affect the general mechanism of the panel, including the photovoltaic cells.
You generally install solar panels on the roof in your homes or establishments. This gives your panels much-needed exposure to sunlight.
However, it also comes with exposure to degrading factors like snow, hail, water, wind, etc.
The influence of such factors can degrade the outer materials of the solar panel.
When the sun is too bright and falls directly on your panels for prolonged periods, it could cause cracks on its surface. These cracks need to be tended to immediately, or they will result in reduced energy production than you previously expected.
Moreover, these cracks allow moisture to enter the body of the solar panels, which further accelerates the degradation rate in your panel system.
Heavy rainfall and water-logging
Waterlogging is a considerable concern when it comes to solar panels. If you live in a region where heavy rains are expected year-round, you might want to ensure proper water drainage around your panels.
Irrespective of whether your panels are on the roof or in your backyard, proper drainage will prevent water from entering the body of the panels.
Ensure the frame is secure and there is no water entering through cracks on the surface of the panel systems.
Areas experiencing extreme weather conditions can expect significant solar panel degradation over the years.
Snowstorms are a significant cause of reduced energy production. Places that receive heavy snowfall expect a massive reduction in their actual output.
Temperatures below freezing can cause cracks, broken frames, warping, etc. In such conditions, solar panels do not produce enough energy using solar power, a renewable energy source.
Keep your solar panel clean and remove all debris from its surface frequently. Fallen debris can cover the surface of the solar panels and result in reduced energy production. Degradation rates are also higher in panels installed near trees.
Solar energy absorbed by panels depends on the surface area exposed to the sun. The more your panels are covered in debris, the lesser solar energy they will absorb and convert.
Solar panels installed on roofs of tall buildings can fall prey to fast winds. Strong winds can weaken the structural integrity of your panel system. Solar panels last longer if they are securely fixed to their positions throughout their lifespan.
Panel degradation rate is higher when the body of solar panels is not intact and moves too much in the wind. Your solar panels will also have trouble absorbing solar power with the same intensity.
How to improve the life expectancy of a solar panel system?
You can add decades to your solar panel’s life by taking the necessary precaution. Extend their life to 25 to 30 years from just a mere 10 years or 20 years.
Check your inverters
Your inverters will never last as long as your solar panels do. It would be best if you replaced your inverters as soon as they start to give you any trouble.
The average warranty you get from solar panel manufacturers on inverters is 10 years, after which they start malfunctioning.
If your inverter is faulty, it will take your solar panels down with it and cause even more problems than you anticipated.
Replace panels or batteries whenever necessary
If you want to protect your entire solar panel system from damage and degradation rates, you must replace parts as and when required. This holds for the batteries you use too.
Solar batteries need to be charged frequently so that they don’t run out on you. You can alternate batteries to make sure that they last long enough.
Moreover, you can also opt for low-resistance, chargeable batteries. Frequently replacing batteries can help with producing electricity and enhance energy output.
Invest in repairs and maintenance
Make sure you keep enough funds aside to invest in repairs and maintenance. This type of investment is crucial because it can help extend your panel’s life to 25 years or more.
Many solar panel providers also give their customers free regular checks and repair assistance.
The installer can come by and check on your panels to check if they efficiently produce energy.
Keep your panels clean
The best way to ensure your panels are efficient is to keep them clean. The quality of the panel does not matter if you fail to clean your panels regularly. You can contact your provider for professional help, or you could even do it yourself!
To conclude with
Solar panels can easily last you 30 years or more if you learn how to look after them. Manufacturers and solar panel providers can only go so far as to give you their best quality products. However, in the end, it is up to you how you maintain these systems!
Make sure you take all the advice mentioned and create a sustainable solar panel system for yourself!