Those considering adding solar panels and renewable energy to their homes may have many questions. Some of these may include the costs of going solar, whether the solar panels can pay for themselves, or, more importantly, how long they will last.
The use of solar has increased dramatically over the years and offers homeowners many benefits. That could be a reduction in rising energy costs, lowering a carbon footprint, or even using solar to charge an electric vehicle.
Adding solar panels is a significant investment that won’t pay for itself for years, and you want to get your money’s worth. Here’s what you need to know about the lifespan of a solar panel, the various factors to consider, and how to extend the life of your panels.
How long do solar panels last?
Many factors determine how long solar panels last and how efficient or productive they are. It will depend on the quality of the panels you buy, how they are installed, climatic factors, and maintenance.
According to Energy.govIn general, most rooftop solar panels are easy past 25-35 years, if not more. And considering you can pay them off in less than half that time, the rest of the years are all income and energy savings. The two most important factors are the quality of the panels and maintenance control to ensure they last as long as possible.
The most common type is photovoltaic (PV) panels, which are very reliable and should last 25+ years under normal conditions. They come in two main types: Polycrystalline or Monocrystalline, and both are excellent options. However, Monocrystalline solar panels usually have a higher efficiency rating and are best suited for residential use.
While more homes have solar today than 20 years ago, many homeowners who jumped on solar in the 1980s and 90s are still going strong and reaping the benefits.
Solar Panel Efficiency Over Time
Another thing that many fail to consider is that the panels will shrink a bit over time. Solar panel efficiency is another strong suit, so don’t worry, but you’ll want to think about it before going ahead with a solar setup for your roof.
As the solar panel wears out, over time, the panels will not capture and provide the same amount of energy as when you first purchased them. Like how a 15-year-old car isn’t as efficient as a new one.
According to The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), consumer solar panels can degrade by about 0.5% per year, depending on climate and setup. So after 10 years of use, they still work at 95% efficiency. Then, after 20 years, a solar panel can still produce about 90% of the energy and electricity of a new unit.
It’s not a lot, but it’s enough that you want to include the overall output in your decision for the long term.
Solar Panel Maintenance
It’s no secret, but if you take care of the things you own, they will last longer. You can’t just install solar panels and forget about them entirely, but it comes close.
In general, solar panels require very little maintenance, especially when installed at an angle. That’s because rain washes away leaves, bird droppings, and other debris, and snow melts quickly. However, most manufacturers suggest a light cleaning between 2-4 times a year.
Not only will a light hose spray or cleaning help extend the life of your panels, but it will prevent dust and debris from building up and lowering solar efficiency. Just be careful, be careful, and take your time. Most brands suggest taking care of a heavy snowfall to avoid blockage or excessive build-up.
In addition, many new solar panel systems have a dedicated mobile app. Owners can use the app to monitor and track energy production, heat, and other metrics. If you notice a drop in production, there may be a blockage, or maybe it’s time to get out on the ladder and clean your panels. Additionally, dirty panels can be damaged more easily, so that’s another thing you want to keep in mind.
What Are You Waiting For?
Now that you know that solar panels can easily last up to 25-30 years or longer, you probably don’t have to think too much about when (or if) you need to replace them. If they are still going strong for 30 years and deliver roughly 85% of the initial efficiency, and that is more than enough for your home, there is no reason to spend a lot of money to get new ones.
Solar panels are a significant initial investment, but you can get decades of use from an array. So, consider a setup for your home today.