If you’re interested in solar energy, you might be wondering how often do solar panels need to be replaced. After all, you don’t want to invest in something that will only last for a few years, right?
Well, the good news is that solar panels are very durable and long-lasting. They can provide you with clean and renewable energy for decades, as long as you take good care of them.
But how long exactly do they last? And what are the factors that affect their lifespan and performance?
Well In this article, answers to all these questions and some tips on how to maintain your solar panels and extend their life will be given, so stay put to learn more.
The Average Lifespan of Solar Panels
Solar panels are designed to last for a long time, typically 25 to 30 years, depending on the quality, type, and installation of the panels.
However, this does not mean that they will stop working after that period. It just means that they will start to lose some of their efficiency and output over time.
This gradual decline in performance is called solar panel degradation. It is caused by various factors, such as aging, weather, dust, and other environmental conditions.
According to a National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) study, the average degradation rate of solar panels is about 0.5% per year, meaning that a panel that produces 100 watts of power in the first year will produce 99.5 watts in the second year, 99 watts in the third year, and so on.
However, some panels may degrade faster or slower than others, depending on the quality of the materials and the manufacturing process.
For example, some premium solar panel manufacturers such as Panasonic and LG offer panels with degradation rates as low as 0.3% per year. On the other hand, some lower-quality panels may degrade as high as 0.8% per year or more.
To ensure that your solar panels last as long as possible and meet their expected performance, you should look for panels that come with a long-term warranty from a reputable manufacturer. Most solar panel warranties cover two aspects: product warranty and performance warranty.
Product warranty covers any defects or damages to the physical components of the panel, such as the glass, frame, junction box, etc. Product warranty usually ranges from 10 to 25 years.
Performance warranty covers the guaranteed output of the panel over its lifespan. Performance warranty usually specifies a minimum percentage of power that the panel will produce at different milestones, such as 80% at 25 years.
If your solar panels fail to meet the warranty terms, you may be eligible for a repair, replacement, or compensation from the manufacturer.
Factors That Affect Solar Panel Lifespan and Performance
Besides the quality and warranty of the solar panels, there are other factors that can affect their lifespan and performance. Some of these factors are:
1. Installation: The way your solar panels are installed can have a significant impact on their durability and efficiency. For example, if your panels are not properly mounted or secured, they may be vulnerable to wind damage or water leakage.
If your panels are not properly aligned or tilted, they may not receive optimal sunlight exposure. If your panels are not properly wired or connected, they may experience electrical issues or power losses.
2. Location: The location of your solar panels can also influence their lifespan and performance. For example, if your panels are located in a hot and sunny climate, they may produce more power but also degrade faster due to higher temperatures.
If your panels are located in a cold and snowy climate, they may produce less power but also degrade slower due to lower temperatures.
3. Maintenance: The maintenance of your solar panels can also affect their lifespan and performance. Solar panels generally require very little maintenance, as they have no moving parts and are designed to withstand harsh environments.
However, they still need periodic cleaning and inspection to ensure that they are free from dirt, dust, leaves, bird droppings, or other obstructions that can reduce their efficiency.
4. Monitoring: The monitoring of your solar panels can also help you optimize their lifespan and performance. By using a solar monitoring system or app, you can track how much energy your solar system produces on a daily, monthly, or yearly basis.
Tips for Extending Solar Panel Lifespan and Performance
Here are some tips for extending the lifespan and performance of your solar panels:
Choose high-quality solar panels from reputable manufacturers that offer long-term warranties and low degradation rates.
Hire a professional and certified solar installer who can ensure a safe and effective installation of your solar system.
Choose a suitable location and orientation for your solar panels that can maximize their sunlight exposure and minimize their temperature fluctuations.
Clean your solar panels regularly with water and a soft cloth or sponge to remove any dirt, debris, dust, leaves, bird droppings, or other obstructions that can reduce their efficiency.
Inspect your solar panels periodically for any cracks, chips, scratches, corrosion, loose connections, or other signs of damage or wear on your panels. Contact your installer or manufacturer for assistance if you notice any problems with your solar panels.
Monitor your solar system’s production and performance with a solar monitoring system or app. Compare your actual production with your expected production and identify any issues or anomalies with your system. Take corrective actions if needed.
When to Replace Solar Panels
Solar panels do not have a definite expiration date, but they do have a gradual decline in performance over time. Depending on the quality and warranty of the solar panels, you may need to replace them after 25 to 30 years or more.
However, there are some situations where you may need to replace your solar panels sooner than expected. Some of these situations are:
Your solar panels are damaged beyond repair due to extreme weather events, accidents, vandalism, or other causes.
Your solar panels are defective or malfunctioning due to manufacturing errors, installation errors, electrical issues, or other causes.
Your solar panels are outdated or incompatible with newer technologies or regulations that require higher efficiency or safety standards.
Your energy needs have increased significantly and your current solar system cannot meet your demand.
Solar panels are a great investment for anyone who wants to save money and reduce their environmental impact by using clean and renewable energy.
However, solar panels are not immortal, and their performance and efficiency will decline over time due to various factors. Therefore, it is important to know when to replace your solar panels and how to make them last longer just as you’ve seen above.