An important question most homeowners ask before going solar is “How long do solar panels last?” This is an important detail when considering the costs of investing in solar energy. You don’t want to invest in a product that won’t last through its payback period.
Thankfully, solar panels last for decades. But what causes solar panel to degrade? And why is it important to consider the difference between solar panel lifespan and production life, as well as the warranties that guarantee this production?
SOLAR PANEL LIFE EXPECTANCY VS PRODUCTION LIFESPAN
When considering how long your PV system may last, it’s important to distinguish between a solar panel’s production lifespan and the life expectancy of the solar panel itself.
A solar panel’s life expectancy is how long the panel will continue to produce power. Solar panel production lifespan is how long a solar panel will produce a certain amount of its original power output.
The standard production lifespan of a solar panel is about 25 to 30 years. Solar panel manufacturers typically warranty their solar panels for 25 years. These warranties guarantee that your solar panels will produce a certain percentage of their original power production, generally 80% or more, after the 25-year warranty period has passed.
For example, a 350 Watt solar panel would be guaranteed to produce at least 280 Watts (80% of original output) at the end of the 25-year warranty period.
Solar panel manufacturers also typically offer equipment warranties that cover any damages to the solar panels themselves, such as any manufacturing defects. These warranties help ensure your solar panels will remain in service and continue to justify your investment.
TIER 1 PANELS
Want to ensure your panels will stay productive as long as possible? We do too!
That’s why we only use Tier 1 rated panels. Tier 1 refers to certified, high-quality solar panels that are manufactured by established and reputable companies with a strong track record of producing reliable and efficient PV modules. These solar panel companies typically have a long history of manufacturing panels and have invested significantly in research and development, quality control processes, and innovative technologies.
Another important aspect of Tier 1 solar panels is their durability and longevity, making them ideal for Oregon solar installs. They are constructed using high-quality materials and undergo rigorous testing to ensure they can withstand weather conditions and environmental factors over an extended period. As a result, these panels are less likely to experience issues and require maintenance, and are backed by robust warranties, offering a more hassle- and worry-free solar solution.
Learn more about the hardware and technology we use in other parts of our systems here: Our Technology
WHY DO SOLAR PANELS DEGRADE?
Although solar panels often come with a 25 to 30 year warranty, the energy production after that time will be lower. This is due to both natural and unnatural degradation of solar panels over time.
Solar panels naturally degrade over time due to exposure to UV rays and weather cycles. While UV rays are a part of sunlight, they are not beneficial to solar panels. UV rays do not contribute to energy production, and they produce heat. Heat decreases the efficiency of panels, decreases energy production, and degrade solar cells and backsheets over time.
Solar panels are also degraded by weather cycles, such as hot summers and cold winters. Constant changes in weather conditions and the natural cycles of climates can degrade solar panels over time.
Solar panels can also degrade due to unnatural causes. These causes are largely caused by humans, such as improper installation or improper care of solar panels.
SOLAR PANELS LAST LONG AFTER WARRANTY
What happens after a solar panel manufacturer warranty has expired? Do the solar panels stop working? Do they degrade quicker?
No, solar panels generally continue producing long after their warranty has expired. The productive time of a solar panel can span decades after the warranty has expired.
According to a study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), solar panel power production degrades an average of 0.5% per year. This means a solar panel would produce approximately 80% of its original power output after 25 years.
By this same standard, a solar panel would still produce over 77% of its original power output after 45 years.
As you can see, while solar panels might only have a 25-year warranty, their valuable working life expectancy is well past the initial guarantee.
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CAN YOU EXTEND SOLAR PANEL LIFESPAN?
Solar panels are very robust pieces of equipment. Because they have no moving parts, solar panels require very little maintenance and don’t suffer from frequent breakdowns, like other energy sources.
But while solar panels hardly ever require maintenance, there are steps you can take to ensure you solar panels are productive long into the future.
- Ensure you are buying high-quality solar panels from a reputable solar company. Make sure your solar panels are from a solar manufacturer that has a good reputation and a strong warranty to back their equipment.
- Work with a solar company you can trust. Do your research and ensure the solar company has a good track record of installing, maintaining, and repairing their solar installations, as well as maintaining a good relationship with their customers long after the installation is complete.
- Clean your solar panels on a regular basis. While rain will often take care of dust and debris, it’s still a good idea to clean your solar panels more thoroughly regularly. It’s important to clean your solar panels properly.
- Monitor your solar production and look over your solar panels regularly. Most solar panel installations come with a monitoring package, allowing you to see your solar production in realtime on your phone or computer. If you notice your solar panels aren’t producing as much as they used to, or you see any potential equipment issues, contact your solar company.
SOLAR PANEL LIFESPAN
While most solar panels have a 25 to 30 year warranty, those solar panels will continue to produce electricity long after the warranty has expired. These warranties are solely a guarantee that your solar panels will produce a certain percentage of their original power output.
The true life expectancy of your solar panels can be decades beyond the solar warranty. And with the average production degradation being just 0.5% per year, you can expect strong production for decades to come.
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