If you’re considering solar panels for your home or office, it's crucial to assess essential factors before investing significant resources. And one of these fundamental aspects is how long do solar panels last. After all, all investment decisions need to factor in the duration of the investment to make sure that it is profitable in the long run.
So, How Long Do Solar Panels Last?
You can count on solar panels lasting for at least 25 years depending on various factors such as climate, maintenance, and the type of solar panels used. Even most manufacturers guarantee that solar panels will work 80 percent of their potential or more after 25 years. So after 25 years, you can rely on your solar panel for producing electricity at an efficient rate.
Solar technology is relatively new, but more and more consumers and companies are switching to this renewable resource for their electricity needs. As a result of the increased market demand, solar panels are becoming more affordable.
At the same time, many factors affect the question, “How long do solar panels last?”And recent developments in solar panel technology result in vastly different lifespans compared to earlier generations of solar panels.
Why Do Solar Panels Degrade?
It's essential to look at why solar panels degrade to assess the variability in different solar panels better. While solar panels typically last for 25 years and more, the efficiency and effectiveness of solar panels are affected by various factors. By accounting for reasons that solar panels degrade, owners are better able to extend the life of their investment. So the answer to "how long do solar panels last" depends on a number of important factors.
Polycrystalline what now?
Solar panels contain various types of materials that transform energy from the sun into electricity. Monocrystalline solar panels are the most common type of panels. The high level of purity of this type of silicon makes it the most efficient at producing electricity. These panels are easy to identify, as they come in blue and black. Monocrystalline solar panels are also the most durable type of solar panel on the market.
Polycrystalline solar panels are relatively more affordable than monocrystalline panels. But experts estimate that polycrystalline solar panels are 15 percent less efficient. So while less expensive, you also won't get as much electricity when compared to their monocrystalline counterparts.
A solar panel made from monocrystalline or polycrystalline material can degrade up to 0.5 percent per year. But solar panels made from both monocrystalline and polycrystalline silicon last longer than other silicon products.
Solar panels sometimes contain various thin-film materials, including amorphous silicon and cadmium telluride. These materials tend to age at a faster rate.
Amorphous silicon solar panels are typically used in solar calculators. This type of solar panel is more affordable compared to the crystalline types. However, amorphous silicon panels are less efficient and less durable as well.
Cadmium telluride solar panels hold promise in the solar energy industry as they are more environmentally friendly to produce. So these panels reduce your carbon footprint compared to other types of solar panels. However, recent research into this type of solar panel has revealed negative findings that cadmium telluride might prove toxic when inhaled.
There are various pros and cons when it comes to different types of solar panel material. But ultimately, the most durable and efficient models also feature higher price tags.
Nope. Not like that
Solar panels should be installed correctly. Otherwise, they may get damaged in the process of setting them up. No matter how durable your panels are, you should ensure their proper installation, preferably by professionals.
It’s not like you're buying shoes that you can replace immediately if broken. Solar panels are placed on roofs and rooftops. And it is not as easy to modify the installation after mistakes happen.
Make sure your roof is suitable for solar panel installation. Also, ensure that it receives sufficient sunlight. There’s no point in installing solar panels on the roof of your building unless there’s adequate sunlight to convert into electricity.
Since solar panels can last up to 25-30 years, you may have to renovate your roof. It’s easier and cheaper to renovate your roof in advance to installing your solar panels. Having to remove your solar panels to renovate your roof down the road can be very costly.
Not a job for amateurs
When hiring people for solar panel installation, make sure you choose professionals. The installation of these panels involves electrical work, after all, so it's not a simple home renovation.
If you can find electricians accredited by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), you know you'll get quality work. Also, look carefully for providers and installers with reliable customer service.
Proper installation may come with a high price. However, it will save you money in the long run. That's because you will need less maintenance. Having professionals install your solar panels provides the benefit of having experts track their performance and maintain them. So, hiring professionals saves you time and stress as well as extends the life of your solar panels.
Here comes the rain again...
Climate affects the durability of your solar panels. High elevation locations with strong winds may expose your solar panels to more significant damage. Winter will also age the panels. Solar panels can withstand heat cycles, heavy rain, wind, dust storms, snow, and hail. But one way to care for them is by exposing them to less harsh conditions if possible by proper location and carefully chosen protective measures.
How to Prolong the Lifespan of Solar Panels
Solar panels require a significant investment. So, it's vital to extend the life of this investment to maximize your rate of return.
How long do solar panels last is directly related to critical factors. And the good news is that there are many effective methods of getting more use out of your panels before having to replace them.
Don't settle for just any fly-by-night outfit. Contracting a reliable solar provider will prove cost-effective in the long run. Can you imagine the hassle of calling different people and companies each time your solar panels need maintenance? You'll have to go through the process of explaining what happened to your system over and over again. Who needs that?
Working with the same provider from installation to maintenance will save you time and money. They will also track the status of your panels and won’t be starting from scratch because they have been your partner since the start. So, they have intimate knowledge of what has worked, what hasn’t worked, and why. This knowledge facilitates faster and more affordable solutions to problems when they arise.
Now, I know this tip sounds obvious, but it's a critical factor in how long do solar panels last. Try to be mindful of where you install your solar panels and the things around them. If you have trees in your yard surrounding your roof, you might want to reconsider placing your solar panels in such area. Trees can be hazards, as they block the sunlight you need to convert into electricity through your panels. They might also break during storms and strong winds and damage your solar panels.
If there is any construction going on near your roof, be sure your solar panels are safe from falling debris. Be on the lookout for potentially dangerous behavior and protect your solar technology investment.
Try to avoid surface scratches and water seeping through your panels as these factors can also shorten the longevity of solar panels.
Invest in cleaning and maintaining your solar panels the same way you would treat your car. This step is important for any product, but even more so with solar panels. These panels get exposed to harsh weather conditions as well as outdoor dirt and dust. And solar panels are more susceptible to dirt than your home. So, proper maintenance is important for preventing serious problems from developing.
Accumulated dirt can shorten the lifespan of solar panels. So, cleaning your solar panels two to four times a year can extend the life of your investment.
Writing down their performance is a valuable source of information you can use to keep track of your solar panels. Monitor how much energy they produce every day. Compare the data to identify any dip in performance before damage occurs. This step requires effort, but it will save you money in the long run. And some solar technology manufacturers offer monitoring system kits for solar panels.
How to Prolong the Lifespan of Solar Panels
The efficiency of solar panels deteriorates over time, as mentioned. However, this decrease is small. And considering the high installation cost of a new system, it's often preferable to continue with the less optimal current system rather than replacing it.
So, how long do solar panels last? You won’t really have to replace your solar panels until something extreme leads to the breakage or severe damage to your solar panels. And something extreme refers to events such as having a tree fall on your panels or debris thrown by a hurricane or tornado crashing down on them. All you have to do is maintain your solar panels for the duration of their lifespan exceeding 25 years.
Are Solar Panels Worth Your Time and Investment?
Investing in solar panels can prove wise, economical, and convenient. This investment will also provide satisfaction and a positive public image in helping the environment by reducing your carbon footprint. Solar panels may require a significant investment, but they will pay off in the long run.
So how long do solar panels last? Solar panels last for decades and do not require much effort to clean and maintain.
Have your own thoughts on how long do solar panels last? We'd love to read your ideas in the comments below!