How long do solar panels last?

How long do solar panels last?

The lifespan of solar panels is something that many homeowners are curious about. It’s a significant investment, so it makes sense to want to know how long you can expect them to last.

The lifespan of a solar panel system depends on the quality of the panel. This blog will break down the various factors that affect how long your solar panels will last.

How long do solar panels last?

The conventional solar panel lifespan typically lasts between 25-30 years, while higher quality panels can last a minimum of 40-50 years.

Solar panels are a long-term investment, so investing in a high-quality solar energy system with durable panels is what we recommend. The more durable your panel, the longer it will last, meaning that you won’t have to replace them sooner than expected.

Panels that are of poorer quality may not be able to last more than 10-15 years. This is because low-quality panels use less efficient materials and components. As a result, they may not be capable of lasting as long as higher-quality panels nor achieving the same energy production.

What will happen to solar panels after their useful life is over?

Your solar panels will still be able to produce energy. However, they will be less efficient at producing electricity after their useful life span has ended.

A common misconception about the life expectancy of solar panels is that they stop producing electricity after 25-30 years, and you would need to purchase a new solar energy system. This is not true, and it is unlikely that your solar panels will stop producing electricity after only 25-30 years.

Manufacturers warranties

Solar panel manufacturers’ warranty is generally between 10 to 25 years and covers the solar system’s components and performance.

The average manufacturer’s warranty on power production guarantees that your solar panels will produce 80% of the original solar power output capacity. Therefore, if your system falls below 80% of the original output during the warranty period, you will be entitled to repair or replace your panels.

The manufacturer’s warranty is the baseline for how long solar panels last, but this does not mean that your solar system will fail in those 25 years. Solar energy systems are made with quality components and typically perform way past these warranties. However, these warranties will give you an idea of how long your whole solar energy system should last.

What is included in a manufacturer’s warranty for a solar panel system?

  • Solar panels
  • Performance warranty
  • Solar batteries
  • Solar inverters
  • Labor costs (in most cases)

Can a solar panel last 50 years?

Yes, a solar panel can last 50 years or more. It really depends on the quality of the panel. The latest panels last between 40-50 years with minimal maintenance.

What is solar panel degradation?

Solar panel degradation is the decrease in performance over time. After about 20 years, solar panels will generate around 70% – 93% of the amount they did when they were new, dependent on many factors.

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the average degradation rate for a solar panel is 0.5% per year. This percentage can be higher for panels installed on rooftops in hotter climates because of airflow restrictions under the panels.

Solar panel degradation rates are improving as research and solar technology advance.

If you are investing in solar panels to save money or generate a return on investment, the lifespan of your solar panels is an essential factor. With today’s technology, solar panel degradation rates are decreasing, increasing the return on investment for homeowners during the lifespan of a panel. 

Solar panels should be replaced when they fail to produce any electricity under optimal conditions or when they no

What causes solar panel degradation?

Things that increase the degradation rates in solar panels include:

Humidity

High humidity can cause corrosion of metal components in the module, resulting in reduced power output.

The PV Damp Heat Test is a test that exposes a solar panel to long-term exposure to high temperature and penetration of humidity. The test is done to assess whether a solar panel can maintain durability after a certain period. Typical testing lasts 1000 hours, while there are Damp-Heat Tests that last for 3000 hours.

Conventional solar panels were shown to reduce the energy output by 28% after DH3000 – 3000 hours of testing. While high-efficiency modules such as SunPower have a power loss of just 2.7% after DH7750 – 7750 hours of testing.

Heat

The more the solar cells are exposed to heat, the faster they degrade. This is because heat weakens cell performance. 

Solar cells perform at their peak efficiency when they are between 59° and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, cooler, sunny weather is optimal conditions for your solar panels.

Light-induced degradation:

Light-induced degradation (LID) occurs in the first few hours when the solar cell is exposed to light. 

Quality of the solar panel:

A solar module will degrade at a different rate depending on its quality. For example, a high-quality, well-made module made of good materials will have lower degradation rates than a poorly manufactured one.

Which type of solar panel lasts longest?

The SunPower A-Series are high-quality solar panels. According to SunPower, these solar panels will have more than 40 years of ‘useful life’ due to their extreme durability. The A-Series solar panels degrade at 0.25% year, maintaining 92% efficiency over 25-years.

SunPower defines ‘useful life’ as the following:

“The end of the useful life of a solar panel system as the time when 1% of the panels have dropped to below 70% power output. Said another way, 99% of modules are producing more than 70% of original rated power.

SunPower is the most sought-after high-quality solar panel brand globally, and these solar panels last longer than many other brands. SunPower’s A-Series has an industry-leading 25-year warranty and 40+ years of useful life.

With this durability, your investment in SunPower Solar Panels is sure to last for many decades to come.

Are you interested in the SunPower A-Series? Get in touch with an Authorized SunPower Dealer to learn more about these panels.

Tips to Make Your Home Solar Panels Last Longer

  • Keep your panels clean and avoid cleaning the solar panels with any chemicals. Chemicals may damage the surface of the panel and cause them to degrade faster.
  • Do not install in shady areas or in direct shade (of something like a tree). Shade causes your home solar panel system to produce less electricity, which means you will lose energy output. When installed correctly, your panels will produce enough solar energy to power your home during the day.
  • Avoid high winds. High winds can be dangerous for your solar panels, and the extreme wind may damage them to a point where they no longer produce any energy.
  • Avoid solar installations in areas that have salty air near them. This can cause corrosions to the frame and wiring, rendering your solar panel system useless much faster than if it were installed in a slightly more sheltered area with fresh air.
  • Get your panels checked for any small cracks, chips, or other damage. Solar panels lose years of their life when they have a crack. This is due to moisture causing corrosion.

Summary

You can rest assured knowing that solar panels last 25 years, with more durable and efficient solar panels lasting double the amount of years.

The lifespan of solar panels is something to consider when investing in solar power. More specifically, the degradation rate, or how much efficiency the panels lose over time, will directly impact your solar payback period and ROI.

External factors will impact how long your solar panels last, such as extreme cold and hot weather, humidity, and light-induced degradation. These also slowly contribute to solar panel degradation, as do solar system components with different voltage potentials.

Choosing a solar provider that will warranty manufacturing defects and an equipment warranty and performance guarantee is essential. Having this along with properly maintained panels will ensure that you produce clean electricity while reducing your carbon footprint for many decades to come.

Should you need help with a tailored solar energy system design from a trusted solar installer, reach out to our team of solar energy advisors. Call us on (609) 225-4101.

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Daisy Perez

Daisy Perez

Hi, I'm Daisy. I love solar energy! My job is to help people get the most out of their solar panels, and it's so amazing being able to do that every day.

I also enjoy taking trips to Blackwater Falls State Park in West Virginia for some serenity time – it's a great place for me to recharge my batteries and just relax.

But when I’m not doing those things, you can find me at home with my dogs or cooking up something yummy in the kitchen.

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About Solar Gleam

As a certified SunPower dealer, we’re here to help you learn more about solar, so you make an informed decision before making the switch. We’ve put together our best resources on how solar technology works, the role of solar storage, and the process of going solar for you to go through at your own pace.

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