A Look Into Solar Panel Lifespan
When it comes to investing in solar systems, one of the most common questions we encounter, here at Earthsave, are those pertaining to solar panel lifespan.
Given the considerable investment required by these systems, it is expected that they enjoy a long life. Most solar panels, in fact, last a considerable number of years before owners need to replace them.
That being said, considering solar panel lifespan without taking into account its accompanying degeneration rate does not provide a clear picture. On that note, our blog this week dives into all factors pertinent to lifetime value, as well as how you can improve the lifespan of your solar panel system.
Continue reading for more!
How long do panels last?
In general, most solar panels last anywhere between 25-30 years.
What’s important to remember, however, is that even after 25 years these systems do not stop producing electricity. All that happens is that the amount of energy produced by the panels dips considerably, cutting into the energy savings that could otherwise be enjoyed.
Solar panel degeneration
Solar panel degeneration rates are calculated according to the dips in output these systems experience on a yearly basis. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, this rate is between 0.5% – 0.8% every year.
This, however, is not a fixed rate and can vary based on the supplier chosen and the quality of the panels themselves. This is also indicative of the fact that solar panel technology is gradually improving and will soon allow manufacturers to lower the degeneration rate even further.
These are, however, just numbers. What does solar panel degeneration mean in practical terms?
Assuming that a set of panels degenerates at a rate of 0.5% a year, in the second year of operation, this system will only perform at a rate of 99.5% compared to when it was first installed.
By the end of their lifetime, therefore, output and efficiency will have reduced by around 13%-14% in total.
Solar panel warranties
Solar panel warranties are also indicative of solar panel lifespan and give users a way of ensuring their panels operate efficiently until the very end.
In this regard, manufacturers generally provide buyers with both an equipment warranty and a performance warranty to ensure that the panels produce electricity the way they’re supposed to.
Solar panel warranties, which generally last around 25 years, also help you understand how much electricity your panels will produce over the course of their lifetime.
Improving solar panel lifespan
In terms of improving solar panel lifespan, success usually boils down to good installation and regular maintenance.
In this regard, make sure your installer is someone with a proven track record of excellence. This is because a well-performed installation will prevent your panels from getting damaged or destroyed as a result of freak weather events.
Further, it’s also important to ensure that your solar panel warranties are comprehensive and provide you with coverage over factors such as cover defects and environmental damage. Make sure you further insulate yourself with warranties that guarantee your panels will produce the requisite amount of energy over their lifespan.
It’s also important, in this process, to schedule regular maintenance.
If this is not something you can perform by yourself, seek professional assistance. Clearing debris from your panel will ensure that it stays damage-free and continues providing an excellent output of energy. You can also purchase protective covers for your panels to prevent damage from the elements and from stray creatures that may find themselves on your roof.
Beyond cleaning your panels, you can also request for professional inspection from time to time. This won’t just cover the panels themselves but all other equipment that make up the entirety of your solar system.
Solar panel lifespan remains a decisive factor for individuals investing in solar energy. Owing to their estimated years of operation, these systems justify the investment required at the outset.
In order to ensure the longevity of service, therefore, degradation rates must be looked into prior to purchase. Even once installation is complete, remaining proactive about maintenance is essential to enjoy an extended solar panel lifespan.