Solar panels are an excellent source of energy when thinking of cutting down on your energy costs. One common question among buyers is how long they can last before they need to be replaced. The lifespan of a solar panel is relative, going for approximately 20 years before noticeably declining in performance.
SEM Power supplies products to help clients generate their own energy so that they do not have to rely exclusively on utility companies. With proper maintenance, solar panels can last much longer than estimated. Below is a breakdown of how long solar panels last and how to keep them more efficient.
Calculating The Lifespan
A solar panel should last you approximately 20 years, meaning it can work for a longer or shorter period depending on several factors, which we will discuss shortly. A typical solar panel has a degradation rate of 0.5% annually. In twenty years, its optimal performance will have dropped by 10%. The end of a solar panel’s life does not mean that it will immediately stop working; instead, it means that it will not perform at its optimal performance according to the developer’s standards. Some high-quality solar panels last longer, with a degradation rate of 0.3%, making them 94% effective after twenty years.
Factors That Can Cause Your Solar Panel To Last For A Shorter Period
- Heat – Although solar panels are built to withstand much heat from the sun, very high temperatures can result in damage. Heat causes the panel to crack, which allows moisture into the panel, affecting the energy output. Heat can also lead to discoloration.
- Wind – Vibrations are harmful to different machinery, including your solar panels. Excessive wind causes vibrations that can loosen the fastened parts of the solar panel, making it less efficient.
- Rain – Water from the rain can cause corrosion if your solar panel is not installed correctly. The metal understructure and the framing are high-risk areas of your panel that can be easily damaged by rainwater.
- Snow – There’s no doubt that extreme temperatures can lead to lower solar panel efficiency. Snow causes the framing to move apart, and freezing temperatures result in warping. The cold can also cause the cells to crack, and heaps of snow on top of your panel will reduce efficiency unless regularly cleared off.
The Durability Of Different Types Of Solar Panels
If you are looking to purchase a new solar panel that will last a long time, you will likely hear of the monocrystalline and polycrystalline silicon panels. These two types of panels are among the most durable, with estimated life spans of about 25 years.
The monocrystalline panels are way more durable than polycrystalline but come with an extra cost. You can identify them by their dark color with square-shaped solar cells that have their corners cut out. The polycrystalline panels are blue and have confetti-like materials inside, which are gaps with silicon crystals that trap electrons.
How To Make Your Solar Panel Last Longer
With the right maintenance, solar panels can last for up to 40-50 years in satisfactory conditions. You may need to do a few things as a user to prolong your solar panel’s lifespan.
- Check Your Inverter Frequently
Inverters last a shorter period than panels, with an estimated lifespan of about 10-15 years. When your inverter fails, it will restrict the amount of energy being processed, preventing you from getting the maximum potential of your solar panels. Check your inverter regularly to see if the output turns out less than the expected amount. This could indicate a problem with either your panels or the inverter.
- Regular Cleaning
Regular cleaning and dusting are essential in making your solar panels more efficient. Wipe the panels each day since they get dusty and very hot during the summer seasons. Do the same during winter when there is likely to be snow build-up. You can spray down your panels with your hose on a gentle stream setting, but make sure the water does not get to the wiring underneath the panel.
Solar panels can last approximately 20 years, but you can use them for up to 40-50 years with proper maintenance. Factors like heat, water, snow, and wind can negatively affect the hardware. But, you can get your solar panels to last longer by maintaining regular cleaning, checking the inverters, and getting a licensed solar panel provider to perform the installation. It is essential to note that all these precautions are excellent but counterproductive if a qualified solar panel provider does not install your solar panels.