While great improvements to solar technology have been made in recent years, a common concern among many potential customers is „How long do solar panels last?” You might be surprised by the longevity that today’s solar products offer.
In the article below, we’ll provide you with a more detailed answer by discussing some of the things that can influence the average lifespan of solar panels. Understanding the points touched on below will allow you to make an educated decision on what to look for in these types of products and determine what might be a good fit for your business or home.
Solar Panel Longevity
For those of you who may need a quick refresher on how solar panels work or what potential they may have, the video below should get you back on track quickly. No matter what level of understanding you have it is important to keep in mind that there are many things that can influence the average lifespan of solar panels.
Like any other equipment, solar panels will begin to degrade and wear out over time. So, when asking „How often do you have to replace solar panels,” make sure you take into account some of these issues:
Damp Heat – Dampness is a natural product of the environment, and when that dampness also generates heat within the enclosure it can deteriorate components. The cells can begin to experience corrosion and encapsulants may become delaminated.
Humidity Freeze – Humidity will build up in your equipment, especially during certain times of the year. When it freezes it may cause adhesion to fail, for example, at the junction box.
Thermal Cycling – Many outdoor settings experience extreme temperature changes during certain months of the year. The temperature cycling between the highs and lows can wear on the solder points or on the solar cells.
UV Exposure – Between visible and X-ray light, the sun generates ultraviolet light. UV light will degrade the back sheeting as well as cause discoloration of transparent materials.
The extent of possible damage over time from one or more of the sources listed above will vary depending upon location, maintenance, and protection. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) notes that these factors are unavoidable in outdoor settings and make it difficult to pinpoint an exact window for the average lifespan of solar panels. It is worth noting that SunPower panels carry a 25 year warranty so, if anything were to go wrong during that period, you’re completely covered. And by that time, your panels have paid for themselves several times over.
Do solar panels go bad for other reasons?
Damage and degradation can be caused by other natural phenomena, including damage from extreme weather such as large hail, high winds, or even scratching from moving tree limbs.
Less expensive products may save you money by using less aluminum for the housing, making them less durable overall while allowing the elements to affect them more. These cheaper products may not use the latest materials which provide greater longevity than compounds used even a decade ago. Also, neglect will often shorten the length of time solar cells operate at their best. Solar panels are very low maintenance but you do want to keep them clean.
How Is Degradation Measured?
The rate of your product’s decline is measured by the solar panel degradation rate. This scale is based on the 2012 NREL study and uses an annual degradation rate of 0.8-percent. For example, a one-year-old panel will generate 99.2-percent of its original output, while a 25-year old product will operate at 82.5-percent.
The performance warranty will vary between manufacturers and product lines, but usually, guarantee 90-percent operation at 10 years and 80-percent at 25 years. You may find better performance warranty numbers with high-end products that use the latest materials in the panel’s build.
It is worth noting that if you have your equipment installed by a SunPower, we offer a warranty covering the installation as well. We recommend letting professional contractors install your solar panels in order to prevent problems that may void your product or performance warranty due to installation errors.
Have your panels inspected and serviced regularly Have the company that installed your equipment back to inspect it routinely. They can spot potential issues like loose racking and wire damage caused by animals or the elements. Having this done on a regular schedule every year or two can help to catch a small problem before it becomes a bigger issue.
Protect against damage Keeping animals that can damage wires away by installing barriers can help. Trimming trees or removing objects that can possibly scratch your panels will also help. Also, use caution and proper gear (or help from the pros) when cleaning dirt or snow from your solar panels to help prevent any accidental damage to components.
Final Thoughts On Solar Power Longevity
As you can see, how often you have to replace solar panels depends upon many factors. If you purchase through SunPower by The Solar Quote, you’re covered by a 25 year warranty on panels, installation and hardware.
Remember that degradation is inevitable but that you can take steps to maintain your equipment at peak performance for decades.
Visit: Sunpower By The Solar Quote