If you’ve considered going solar, you may want to know if it’s a wise decision. You may also want to know, “How long do solar panels really last?” and many other things. Not only can solar energy provide you with clean solar energy for your home, but it could also help you save on your monthly electric bill. More independence from your utility company means you’ll be producing your own power and with the right solar company and panels, you’ll be producing power for years and years to come.
But just how long will your solar panels last? And are they worth the investment?
In this blog, we tackle the popular question: How long do solar panels last? In addition, we answer some of your best questions from all over the internet related to this topic like how to make solar panels last longer and how to get the most out of your solar panel system.
Let’s get started.
How long do solar panels really last?
Solar panels can produce power for decades, depending on a few factors. The most important of those factors:
- The brand and model, which determines the degradation rate.
- The solar installation company, which has to do with warranties and effective installation.
Solar panels are an investment in your home energy, so choosing the right type of equipment, as well as the right solar panel installer can make a huge difference in how long your investment can last. Solar panels have an average degradation rate of 0.5% per year, which means the rate of decline in power output. Of course, this depends on the type of panel, so choosing wisely will get you longer lasting solar panels.
Since every piece of equipment is different, there isn’t a definitive answer on how long a solar panel will really last. However, you should be able to expect that your panels will last a couple of decades. This is one of the reasons you’ll want to choose high quality solar panels. For example, high quality panels may have a 25 year manufacturer warranty that will guarantee their production for the full 25 years.
Do solar panels really last 25 years?
They can! The standard lifespan for solar panels is 25-30 years. But this is only if you choose high-quality solar panels that come with warranties that guarantee your panels will keep producing throughout this average lifespan. Some manufacturers offer warranties for the entire standard lifespan of 25 years.
Can a solar panel last 50 years?
Just because your solar panels reached the average lifespan doesn’t mean they’ll stop working! Solar panels decline in power output by around 0.5% each year (according to a study by National Renewable Energy Laboratory or NREL). This means with the right type of panels and proper maintenance (which is not much!) your panels could see a lifetime of up to 40-50 years.
Do solar panels need to be replaced every 10 years?
The panels in your solar system only need to be replaced every 10 years if you have a brand that doesn’t have warranties in place for 25 years.
What happens to solar panels after 10 years?
If you have high-quality PV panels, they’ll keep working well beyond 10 years.
How often do solar panels need to be replaced?
Most solar panels don’t need to be replaced until long after their warranty. Here are the factors that will help increase the longevity of your solar panels.
- Keep your panels clear of debris.
- Make sure your panels are regularly monitored and maintained.
- Choose your solar company wisely.
Do solar panels eventually stop working?
After a solar panel has reached its lifespan, it will need to be replaced and recycled. Read more about the solar panel recycling process. And if you’re worried about the carbon footprint of your solar panels after their lifespan, here’s some great news. The EPBT (or energy payback time) of solar panels was about six months according to a study done in 2010 by Columbia. This means the EPBT is a lot lower 10 years later due to increased solar panel efficiency.
Do solar panels lose effectiveness over time?
Yes, this is called the solar panel degradation rate, which is about 0.5% per year. Premium solar panels could have degradation rates up to 0.3%. That means for an average solar panel, after the first year has passed, the panel may operate at around 99.5%. After the second year, it will operate at 99%, and so on. So, after the typical lifespan, your panels could be operating at around 87.5%. This is why your solar panels could last up to 50 years or so, depending on the brand and they are free from damage.
Advances in the solar panel manufacturing process have decreased overall degradation rates over the past several decades. Most manufacturers claim to have an average yearly degradation rate of only 0.5%. Some premium panel manufacturers claim to have degradation rates as low as 0.3%.
The exception to these averages would be if you live in a climate that has extreme temperatures, or severe weather. Over time panels exposed to high levels of UV in desert climates, will experience large decreases in production, approaching 1% per year. Colder climates will also suffer greater if subjected to heavy wind and snow.
Do solar panels weaken with age?
Yes, this is called the degradation rate, as we explained above. Each year, depending on the degradation rate for your brand of solar panels, your solar panel will produce around 0.5% less electricity as it did the previous year. This is why it’s important to choose your solar panels wisely. This is an investment in your home’s energy for years to come!
Do solar panels go bad if not used?
If you’re not using your solar panels as often, the degradation rate should stay around the same since the factors affecting degradation are mostly UV exposure.
What to do if my solar panels stop working?
If your panels are under warranty your solar company can help you with this. Often, the solar company you work with will do a complete inspection of the solar panels and other equipment in your solar system, including your solar micro inverters and the roof racking system.
In the unlikely case your panels stop working before the end of their typical lifespan (and warranty), you should be able to have your solar installation company repair and/or replace the panels. This is why it’s important to have a warranty on the panels themselves and a power production guarantee from your solar panel installer. Then, you won’t need to worry about this throughout the duration of the warranty.
Once your solar panels eventually stop working, they will need to be recycled and replaced.
What is the average lifespan of solar panels?
A solar panels’ lifespan depends on a few factors, including degradation rate, maintenance and warranties. Let’s go through each of these.
Your home and a solar panel’s degradation rate
You’ll want to consider the degradation rate when making the decision to switch to solar energy.
Solar panel degradation is just a fact of physics but a good quality panel will have low degradation rates that don’t affect a solar system’s lifespan or performance too much.
Make sure you’re getting the most out of your investment by choosing solar panels by high-quality manufacturers, like Silfab Solar or Q Cells. This way, not only will you get some of the highest performing panels, but you’ll also get features that matter like lower degradation rates.
How to make the most of your system with solar panel maintenance
The great thing about solar panels is that they don’t have any moving parts, so they rarely break from the inside. Instead, damage can be caused by external forces, like heavy snow, high winds, debris, or subpar installation involving poor racking that causes microcracking.
Microcracking can also occur from high heat. If these cracks allow moisture to get inside, it can be a bigger issue because it can affect the power output as well as increase the degradation rate. In extreme cases of high heat, your panels could also become discolored as well. This may not seem like it matters, but discoloration makes your entire solar system less efficient. How do you avoid this? That’s right – choose high-quality panels and look for those that perform exceptionally well in heat, especially if you live in an area prone to extreme heat.
You can also avoid physical damage to your solar panels caused by birds or animals by having protective netting installed. Speaking of birds, if you live in an area prone to debris like dirt, pollen, leaves, dust and bird droppings, you might want to clean your panels once a year or so. Most of the time, rain can clear your panels of this type of debris, but if you are noticing reduced production, you might want to check it out. Some homeowners will hose down their panels every so often or squeegee them. Always work with a reputable, licensed solar installer who offers solid service to help you clean and maintain your home solar system.
Many manufacturers will offer 10 to 12-year warranties that cover defects and environmental damages, as well as a production warranty that lasts around 25 years. A production warranty guarantees the panels will generate a certain amount of energy for your home.* The longer warranty you can find, the better for the lifespan of your solar panels. This is why we offer a 25-year warranty as well as work with reputable solar panel manufacturers.
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