How Long Do Solar Panels Last?

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How Long Do Solar Panels Last?

A solar panel system is a form of investment for the people who install them since it covers the cost of their electricity in partial or in full. A typical solar panel system may cost $10,000 to $35,000 depending on the type of system and how many solar panels are needed to power a house. With the high price tag of this system, it is only understandable for the consumers to expect a long lifespan from the solar panels to justify the cost of setting up. Ideally, a solar panel system must provide the savings on electricity to cover the cost incurred in setting up the system.

How long a solar panel lasts may depend on several things:

  • The maintenance given to the solar panels may affect how long they may last. Making sure that the panels are not buried in snow and removing debris such as leaves and branches helps to maintain the quality of the solar panels.
  • Generally, solar panels are expected to degrade at 0.8% per year. If the panels perform at 100% during the first year, they would perform at 99.2% during the second year and 98.4% during the third year and so forth. This is typical for any man-made technology present.
  • The different manufacturers also provide different types of solar panels that give different performance. Some solar panels were built with higher durability that gives then a longer lifespan.

Generally, a typical solar panel may last 25 to 30 years. The materials used in the production of the panels are built to withstand time. The estimation of 25 to 30 years does not necessarily mean that the solar panel will die or stop running on its 30th year. The range of 25 to 30 years is the estimated time that the solar panels will operate at an acceptable level for their purpose. With a degradation rate of 0.8%, a solar panel would operate at 82.5% during its 25th year. So it is still possible for the solar panels to operate on their 35th or 40th year, but they will perform at a much less efficient level.

There are solar panel manufacturers, such as SunPower, who provide more durable solar panels that have a significantly lower degradation rate of 0.3%. In 25 years, their solar panel would still perform at 92.5%.

There may also be slight differences with monocrystalline vs polycrystalline systems, but overall these panels offer similar longevity.

Maintenance and replacement of Solar Panels

Maintenance and replacement may also be needed for solar panels. Even though the panels are made from durable materials, they are still fragile and can be broken. Extreme physical pressure may break a panel and necessitate replacement. The panel can be replaced without replacing the whole system as long as the parts are compatible. Also, solar panels are usually placed in clear areas and need minimal maintenance, but providing general maintenance may help prolong their lifespan. Make sure that they are not covered with shade to let them perform at their most efficient. Shade affects their efficiency and keeps the panels from absorbing sunlight. Make sure that the solar panels are performing at their expected performance by monitoring their indicators. An inconsistency may need the attention of the manufacturer to check on your solar panels.

While the estimated lifespan of a solar panel is around 25 to 30 years, how long a solar panel lasts will still depend on how you care for it. With the high cost of setting up, this investment is expected to last a long time to offset the cost of setup and help manage the electricity consumption of the user.

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