Solar panels need to be exposed to the elements to work, so it’s natural to wonder how long they will last. The good news is that they can hold up for a long time, especially with a little bit of care.
Basic Life Expectancy
A set of solar panels should last for at least 25 years under the vast majority of circumstances. Many of them will come with a warranty that lasts for that period, so it is normally easy to replace any that fall short of that time. That having been said, it can get a little more complicated.
When manufacturers say that their panels will last for 25 years, they don’t mean that those panels will stop producing power at that point. All solar panels will slowly lose efficiency over time, and they will simply be at roughly 80% of their rated efficiency when the time is up. They will still work and a set of panels that produced more than enough when it was new might provide an adequate level of power for many more years.
Understanding Efficiency Loss
All solar panels degrade over time,. That is inevitable. There are things that an owner can do to help make sure their panels last as long as possible, but they will eventually wear out. The panels will keep producing power long after their warranty is up, but the loss of efficiency will mean that their owners will need to find a way to make up for the loss in power production.
Most panels lose efficiency at a rate of between .5% and .8% each year. That is a pretty small loss and most people will not notice it for a long time. It is even possible to plan for the that degradation because it is fairly predictable. Some people opt to expand their solar panel systems over time to make up for it, while others simply install a few more panels than they expect to need to make sure that they can absorb the loss without any problems.
Making Them Last
It makes sense to invest some time and effort into making sure that the solar panels last for as long as possible. Most panels can survive without much maintenance but there are a few ways to make sure that they stay in good condition in the long run.
Keeping the panels clean can be a good start. Anything that blocks the panels will cut into their efficiency, so a little bit of cleaning can help to keep them productive while also reducing the risk of damage from debris. It is important to be careful and follow any instructions from the manufacturer or installation service while cleaning to avoid accidents.
It can also be wise to keep an eye on the panels in order to detect problems early. Accidents do happen, and catching them early usually makes it easier to fix them and stop them from happening again. When in doubt, it is best to get in touch with an expert to ensure everything is in good working order.