How Long Do Solar Panels Last?

Somewhere along your solar journey, you might be wondering:

The Lifespan of Solar Panels

These are all great questions to have as a conscious consumer. Let’s dive into the answers but first let’s cover some of the basics!

The current industry standard for panel lifespan is 25 to 30 years of sustainable efficiency. This doesn’t mean that your panels will stop working after 25 to 30 years—but that you most likely will not be able to produce the power needed to meet your usual demand. Panels are able to last more than two decades due to the fact that they have no moving parts. However, panels can be damaged by outside forces such as poor racking designs or extreme weather. 

Is Solar Panel Lifespan Affected by Degradation?

The short answer, yes. According to a study done by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), panels degrade at about a 1% rate every year after installation. This means that in 10 years your panels will be at a 90% efficiency rate and at an 80% efficiency rate in 20 years. Technological advancements are currently being made on very small margins to combat solar panel degradation rates. One way to gain an edge on degradation is at the point of purchase.

Does it Matter Which Solar Panels I Purchase?

Yes! Proactively, you can fight solar panel degradation by purchasing panels with a higher efficiency rating. Solar panel manufacturers such as LG and SunPower carry specific high-efficiency models. Essentially, spending on high-efficiency models can save you money down the line by increasing the lifespan of your system. You can also produce more power by building a system that’s bigger than what you currently need by 10%. By adding more panels to your system, you will start at 110% of your current need of production, 100% at 10 years, and 90% at the 20-year mark. 

4 Tips To Make Your Solar Panels Last Longer

What if you already installed a solar panel system? There are several ways you can make sure that you are getting the most from your solar panels. 

  1. Be Sure Your Panels Are Monitored Regularly

The best way to make your panels last longer is to get your system checked regularly. A systems check can reveal problems that have to do with racking, electrical wiring, and roof conditions. An inspection of your PV array can also expose problems with your inverters and the racking system as a whole. Some of these problems can primarily be detected by solar invert monitoring software. Solar Negotiators’ proprietary software, Know True-Up®! is an alternative monitoring service that production data and utility companies. This allows us to give users access to both, making complete energy management quick and easy.

  1. Keep Panels Free of Debris

Solar Negotiators recommends you get at least two professional panel cleanings per year, however, some customers opt for getting custom cleaning packages to really maximize their energy production. A more recent concern that has been arising over the last couple of years is wildfires. Wildfires can cause solar production to dip as much as 50% due to ash build-up and UV ray light blockage from smoke.

  1. Prevent Unwanted Damage

One of the prominent reasons for panels being damaged is actually because of weather and debris. During your initial consultations with a solar provider, it is important to make sure that there are no trees directly over your panels because branches can fall and damage the system. Another major reason to avoid trees is shading. Shading caused by trees, chimneys, and even neighboring houses can deeply affect your production due to the blocking of sunlight. If mounted on the racking system correctly, the PV array should not become detached from your roof by high winds. Most panels should also be strong enough to withstand hail and snow. Snow build-up typically melts away with just the heat of the panels absorbing the sun, however, it is recommended that any additional build-up be removed to allow for maximum production.  

  1. Take Advantage of Your Solar Warranties 

When you start researching solar companies it’s important to ask what types of warranties come along with your installation. These warranties can help you in case of failures or damage to your system. Some of the most common warranties include a manufacturer warranty, workmanship warranty, inverter warranty, and roof penetration warranty. Manufacturer’s warranty from solar panel brands covers any failures that have to do with the units themself. A workmanship warranty provides you the homeowner with coverage against installation errors or damage. Inverter warranties are similar to manufacturer warranties in that they cover any issue with the inverter hardware. Roof penetration warranty protects a customer from leaks in their roof. Roof penetrations are an absolute necessity to secure the mounts and racking to the truss of your roof. The penetrations are sealed afterward however, the warranty is there to protect you in case leaks do start to form. 

Summary

How long do solar panels last?

Solar panels last 25 to 30 years. 

Does solar panel efficiency matter?

Yes. Buying more solar panels to build a bigger system can maximize your energy savings. Also, buying a higher efficiency panel is a proactive method to fight panel degradation.

How do you make your solar panels last longer?

  • Have your panels monitored and serviced 
  • Get your panels professionally cleaned 
  • Take advantage of your solar warranties 

Team Up With Solar Negotiators

Solar Negotiators is a solar provider who can do it all! We have a variety of solar panel options that can meet your budget and system size. Our expert team of installers will have your solar system up quickly and cleanly. Our solar warranty includes the manufacturer warranty, workmanship warranty, inverter warranty, and roof penetration warranty. Did you know that we also offer lifetime panel cleanings, human monitoring, and access to our Know True-Up® proprietary monitoring software? That’s right, we’re your solar partner for life! 

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