How Long Do Solar Panels Last?
As we are all feeling the negative effects of climate change, it seems that more and more people are finding ways to go green in an effort to repair, or even reverse, the damage that has been inflicted on our planet. This is the main reason the popularity of solar panels has increased. These photovoltaic cells help us produce electricity without leaving any carbon footprint on the Earth’s atmosphere by utilizing the energy that the sun emits. What’s great about solar is that it not only produces zero greenhouse gases, but it also helps us save money by significantly reducing our electric utility bills.
Another great thing about the usage of solar panels is that they will be able to absorb light energy and generate electricity for a long time. Many people are bound to ask, “How long do solar panels last?”. Fortunately, we can help you find the answer to this question. Let us provide with you more information regarding their lifespans and other details that you might find useful or be interested in. Who knows, maybe after reading this, you might finally realize that you need this type of system for your home?
Solar Panels Lifespan
It’s already been mentioned that solar panels can be used for a long time, but just how long is the typical “solar panels lifespan”? Usually, the panels or cells can last from 25 up to 30 years, or even more. That’s a really, really long time, right? Not a lot of products that we use and rely on have this guarantee. One reason they can last this long is that they are made with quality monocrystalline or polycrystalline material. Another reason is that these cells are designed to be installed in one place, which is commonly on the roof for maximum sun exposure.
Since the panels are not constantly being moved or relocated, there’s a much smaller chance that they can be damaged or broken, unless they get hit by lightning or other forces of nature such as heavy rain, hailstones or a tornado. There are two other reasons a panel may not last as long; one might be due to incorrect installation, and the other one could be because of materials that are of poor quality which costs even more money to repair.
So, going back to that question “How long do solar panels last?”, they can last up to three decades. Do note that after the said time, it is to be expected that there will be a decline in performance and the amount of electric output that is produced. As with any other product or device, we should be aware that there will come a point when the panels won’t work as well or perform the same way they used to.
Solar Panel Degradation
The reason that there is a gradual decline in the performance of the photovoltaic panels is called solar panel degradation. While it is true that most, if not all, of these panels are guaranteed for at least 30 years of continuous work, we can’t expect them to function at their absolute best four decades later. It simply doesn’t work that way. So how does this degradation occur? After 30 years or so, the solar cells will still continue to absorb and produce enough energy to provide your home electricity, but the only difference is that the overall output of electricity will be lower compared to before the 30-year mark.
The rate at which the decline starts is what’s called a solar panel degradation rate. According to a study that the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) conducted in 2012, the average rate at which the electric output falls is at 0.8% per year. This means that after the solar panels lifespan has been reached, their efficiency will have fallen to 99.2% a year after three decades.
So, for everyone who has already, or is planning to have a solar system installed, you don’t have to worry about your money going down the drain. The photovoltaic cells will still be able to provide an ample amount of electric power well into the future. Imagine something working well for thirty long years – that’s still something to feel good about, right? It’s certainly no mean feat. One more thing — manufacturers are continuing to work on slowing down the degradation of these panels. There are some companies out there that can guarantee a degradation rate as low as 0.5%.
Tips for Making Solar Panels Last Longer
If you’re wondering if there is a way to extend the life of solar panels, there are a few things you can do to help them last longer. Let us give you a few tips to guide you on what to do to ensure that your solar cells are kept in good shape:
- Keep them clean – Any object that sits in muck and dirt for a long time can be expected to be damaged one way or another. It is vital that you keep the panels themselves, and the whole system clean so that it can function well. Besides, any dirt is just an eyesore.
- Have the system professionally checked regularly – This means you need to have the experts involved in inspecting not just the panels but the system as a whole every few years. This is to make sure that there are no loose screws or damaged or disconnected wires that could cause trouble in the years to come. It’s best that professional engineers who know everything about solar do the inspection other than doing it yourself.
- Look out for bugs and animals – We can’t always help it if say squirrels or birds climb up the roof of your house. The problem is that animals like birds or bugs can create nests on or underneath the panels, and that can cause a lot of damage. To prevent this, you can create a barrier by installing critter guards surrounding the panels to make sure everything’s protected.
- Batteries are important too – Being one of the most expensive parts of the whole solar array, be sure to have the batteries checked or changed if necessary. Ensure that they are plugged in and charged correctly to avoid any issues in the future.
How long does solar panel last? It’s impossible to provide an exact number of years that these solar-powered cells can continue working, except for the given lifespan the manufacturers have already indicated. In any case, what matters most is the way we handle and take care of them so that they can last as long as possible. Another important factor is that no matter how long they last, solar panels are guaranteed to give us sustainable and renewable energy that’s free and not damaging to our planet.
The endless energy that the sun supplies is something to be thankful for and look forward to. Imagine a future with less pollution, lesser damages, and more free-flowing power. What’s not to like about that? So, if you want to make a change, why not begin the journey by getting some solar panels and see the difference that they can create?