Solar Panel Lifespan Explained

Solar Panel Lifespan

Famously known as solar panels are also determined as photovoltaic and PV panels. These solar panels are made to last for more than 25 years. In fact, there are so many solar panels that were installed in the 1980s that are still working at the expected capacity. Not only are solar panels reliable, but solar panel longevity has also increased dramatically over the last 20 years. In addition to this, it includes decades of effective performance; many solar manufacturers back their products with performance guarantees.

Remember that expected solar panel life expectancy doesn’t state that the panels on your roof will stop producing electricity after a couple of decades. The production of energy will decrease by what solar panel manufacturers consider optimal to meet the average energy requirement of a family.

Can We Make an Estimation of the Lifespan of a Solar Panel?

Since most people are seeking solar photovoltaic power to reduce the cost of their electricity bills, it is quite understandable to know the life of your solar panels. If you can determine the life expectancy of solar panels on an accurate basis, you can make the calculation of the long-term value they offer.

The major issue that has been seen while calculating the solar panel lifespan is that solar panels do not produce the same amount of power for every decade, and after that, they may stop producing electricity on a sudden basis. Instead, they start producing less and less power as they get older. Owners of the solar panels then have to determine when it's worth replacing such older panels with the new panels to re-producing the same level of energy generation.

It is estimated to have 25 years as the average solar panel lifespan as the researchers have shown that this is the time in which most people still receive enough production from their panels to meet the energy consumption requirements of their home. So the answer to the question is that the exact lifespan of the solar panel is basically 25 years.

What Is the Average Solar Panel Lifespan?

If you are not able to have faith in the accurate lifespan of the solar panel, then we can also make an estimation of the direction. Normally, solar panels are warranted to live, or we can say to produce efficient solar energy for about 25 to 30 years, but they can continue to produce energy at a high capacity after the breaching of this time limit. PV panels typically produce electricity at 80% of their initial capacity or less once they reach this age. In many situations, this level of production is sufficient, but for others, the panels may no longer be economically viable and may have to be replaced with newer panels that can produce more energy at higher efficiencies.

The lifespan of Monocrystalline Solar Panels

Monocrystalline solar panels can work effectively for about 25 to more than 50 years. These monocrystalline solar panels are made up of one crystal that certainly reduces the potential chances of failure.

Lifespan for Polycrystalline Solar Panels

Polycrystalline solar panels can work effectively for about 25 years; after the breaching of this lifespan, the efficiency can reduce as electrical forces cause their crystals to get separated.

Lifespan for Thin-film Solar Panels

Thin-film solar panels can work effectively for about 10 to 20 years. These thin-film solar panels can produce energy at a faster pace than their silicon counterparts.

Factors influencing the lifespan of solar panels

As it is understandable that the highest quality panels installed on your rooftops will eventually degrade over time due to a range of factors, including:

•         Quality – Solar panels must be extremely durable in nature. Therefore, they must use high-quality materials to manufacture the solar panels, which is paramount for superior performance. Poor quality components will be facing many problems like construction and performance issues which can be further utilized to save some money.

•         Climate – Solar panels are non-moveable; they rarely break from within into parts. But, these panels usually get damaged due to extreme weather conditions like heavy rain, snow and hail, and cold temperatures.

•            Installation – It is important to make sure that your panels and racking system are mounted securely on your roof. Racking is one of the important parts of the solar system. It should protect the panels from wind load and snow load and should not leakage when it rains.

•            Maintenance – How long solar panels last is dependent on the maintenance of panels. Always make sure that panels aren’t dirty or filled with debris. Panels degrade quickly if the maintenance is poor and bad.

Factors influencing the lifespan of solar panels

Tips to Make Your Home Solar Panels Last Longer

1. Choose a proper location for installation

The location of the solar panel should be selected in such a way that they absorb a large volume of sunlight but are protected from external damage. Apart from getting regular exposure to the environment, there are other factors that impact the panels, including shocks and impacts that can easily damage the solar panels.

2. Buy reliable and durable solar panels

If you are planning to make the long-term installation of the solar system, it is crucial to choose a reliable and durable brand for solar panels. This will not only facilitate you with durable solar panels but will also provide you with a long warranty period from the brand, which will cover performance degradation along with internal damage to the solar panels.

3. Keep an eye on the battery

If you have a battery-based solar system, you need to have a regular check of the battery health along with solar panels. The role of the batteries would be to store the energy produced by solar panels. Once the batteries get damaged, your solar panel’s efficiency will be automatically decreased as you won’t be able to utilize it to its full potential. Always choose a premium battery for your system and make sure that it has enough capacity to store the electricity generated by your solar panel array.

4. The installation process must be done by the professional

It is seen that most of the solar panels get damaged at the time of installation. The solar panels are heavy units, and they require special care during installation. Thus, it is always recommended to call a professional to accomplish the installation of a solar panel so that you won’t have to deal with damaged solar panels. A professional will also guide the owner on the best possible location for the installation of the solar panel.

What is Solar Degradation Rate?

With the spending time lap, solar panels tend to lose the ability to absorb sunlight and transform it into solar energy. This can happen for different factors, including hot weather and the natural reduction in chemical potency within the panel. This losing ability is termed the “degradation ratio.”

Panels that have a lower degradation rate are considered to be better panels. The lower degeneration rate will generate more energy over its lifespan.

Degradation rates are brand dependent on the panel. Panels with higher quality have a lower rate of degradation and vice-versa. Thus, it may make more sense to invest more in higher-quality panels.

As mentioned by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), premium solar panel manufacturers panels with low degradation rates of as 0.30% annually.

The degradation rate for most Tier 1 solar panels is estimated to have 0.30%. This means that the panel's performance decreases by .30% every year. This adds up over 25 years to 6.96%, which directly says that the panels will be able to operate at 93.04% in the year 2045.

Your panels will be degraded by.50% every year if you buy Tier 2 panels. After a 25-year warrantied panel, they will still work at 88.67% of what they were designed to. You can expect Tier 2 solar panels to perform better for 25 consecutive years unless they are broken, defectively manufactured, and beyond repair.

What is Solar Degradation Rate?

What if other solar system components might need replacing?

The hardware that builds up a solar system, such as racking, solar batteries, and inverter, has a higher chance of getting damaged than the actual solar panels do.

Replacing the racking

The racking system is drilled into the roof to hold the foundation of the panels; it is more exposed to the elements like sun, rain, snow, and extreme temperatures.

Replacing the inverter

The replacement of the inverter can be done every 10-15 years. Normally, the solar inverter asks for the replacement in between the lifespan of the solar panels because it works extremely hard because the tools convert DC electricity into AC electricity for homely usage.

Replacing your solar battery

Solar batteries, like the Tesla Powerwall, are an optional addition to your solar system and are used to make the storage of excess solar power.

Typically, these solar batteries have a 10-year warranty, which is the time their performance begins to slow down. After the breaching of the time of 10 years, you might need to replace them to maintain the peak performance. If you purchase a battery, consider the specific warranty of the battery system.

One way to keep your solar system operating at its peak is to sync up your roof maintenance with solar panel maintenance and replacement. Depending on roof shingle types, a typical roof needs to be replaced after every 25 years.

What Happens to Solar Panels After 25 Years?

The reason the solar system has reached the end of its expected life doesn’t mean it still can’t produce energy and can help you save money. Manufacturers determine the solar panel’s “useful life” is over once the panels’ production dips below 80% - but that’s not the reality. The panels will continue to produce energy for many years to come, but the efficiency level decreases.

Degradation is a normal and unavoidable part of owning solar panels. Nothing lasts forever, but savings that are generated by the solar system throughout its useful life could be saved or reinvested into your website.

Conclusion

The life expectancy of a solar panel is totally dependent upon its type, location, maintenance schedule, and brand it belongs to.

Extreme temperatures, wind, and snowfall can cause damage to your panel’s components. You must keep the panels free from the dirt and debris that may build up on your panel’s surface, as they can affect its efficiency.

The best way to ensure your solar panels last a long time is to find a provider who offers a solid warranty on the structure.