A solar energy system is a big investment decision. It’s important to do your research and ask questions. One of the top questions all home owners ask is, “How long do solar panels last?” As a general rule of thumb in the solar industry, solar panels last about 25-30 years. To clear up any misconceptions, this does not mean that they stop producing electricity after the 25 years. It simply means that energy production has declined a significant amount. Solar panels continue producing energy for many years taking into account they remain in good condition. Since solar panels have no moving parts, they rarely break from within. If they become damaged it’s related to either poor racking setup, inclement weather, or other external factors.
Solar Panel Degradation Rate
One study done by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that the average production output decreases by 0.8% each year. However, this rate may vary depending on the brand of panel you buy. Solar panel degradation rates are constantly improving as solar technology gets better. So, what does this mean exactly? If we take the average of 0.8% degradation rate, by the second year your panels will operate at 99.2% of their original output. After the 25 year “average lifespan,” they will continue operating but it would be at 82.5%.
Solar panels also come with different warranties. Typically, the performance warranty of solar panels is 25 years. Within this time, manufacturer’s guarantee that the panels will operate at or near peak efficiency. Over the life of their warranty, most panels are covered to produce at least 80% of their rated output. For example, a 300 watt panel should produce at least 240 watts (80% of its rated output) at the end of a 25 year warranty.
Is it possible to make solar panels last longer?
Absolutely! The best way to ensure you get the most out of your solar panels is to have them regularly checked by your installer or service provider. The solar panels themselves are very resilient. The parts that may need replaced are the inverters and batteries to keep everything running smoothly and consistently. Typically, a central inverter (string inverter) for a PV installations lasts between 10-15 years. Microinverters typically last the lifespan of your solar panels (25 years). It’s important to make sure to have your provider inspect and maintain your solar panel system. You run the chance of voiding your warranty if you end up damaging or scratching the panels on your roof yourself. Another way to make certain you get the most life out of your panels is to keep them free of debris and other damaging materials. When first installing your system, your installer will ensure there are no large trees that could shade or damage your panels. There are also things such as solar panel critter guards you can purchase to keep animals such as birds or squirrels from nesting under your panels.
Big investment decisions like solar panel systems are something that require a provider with great customer service and are knowledgeable in the solar industry. This is where WattSun Solar can help you! Call today to discuss your options and figure out what would work best for your home.