When people get something expensive, such as a home solar system, it’s only natural for them to ask how long it will serve. Turns out that the question of the life of a solar panel doesn’t have a short and straightforward answer. Let’s discuss the subject of how long do solar panels last in this article.
What is the average lifespan of a solar panel?
The solar panel lifespan can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the quality of the materials used and the conditions under which the panel is operated. On average, most solar panels last for 20-25 years. However, many solar panels are rated to work even longer than this, with some manufacturers offering warranties of up to 30 years or more. You can safely say that as technologies advance and the quality of panels get better, the average lifespan of a solar panel increases.
What happens to a solar panel after 25 years?
After 25 years, a solar panel will likely have lost some of its efficiency, and its ability to generate electricity will decrease. The rate at which a solar panel’s efficiency decreases over time can vary depending on factors such as the quality of the materials used and the conditions under which the panel is operated. A typical panel loses about 0.8% of power output per year.
A solar panel that is properly maintained and protected from excessive wear and tear can continue to generate electricity for many years beyond its expected lifespan. While the panel itself may still be functional after 25 years, the decrease in efficiency can make it less cost-effective to continue using it. At this point, many people choose to replace their solar panels with newer, more efficient models.
It’s also worth noting that the solar panel components or the inverter that converts DC power to AC power may fail before the panel, and they might need to be replaced or fixed, but those are separate components that can be replaced.
Do solar panels need maintenance?
Yes, proper maintenance has a big effect on how long solar panels last. It can help to ensure that the panels continue to generate electricity at a high level and prolong their lifespan.
Some examples of maintenance that may be needed include:
- Keeping the panels clean by regularly removing dirt, dust, and other debris that can accumulate on their surface.
- Inspecting the panels for damage or signs of wear, such as cracked or broken glass, and making repairs as needed.
- Ensuring that the solar panels are properly aligned with the sun in order to maximize their energy output.
- Cleaning off any bird droppings or other debris that may accumulate on the solar panels, as they can be acidic and cause damage to the panel’s surface if left unattended.
It’s also important to have the system inspected at least once a year by a professional or by the company that installed it to check for any issues. This might include checking the connections, the wiring, the inverter, and other components to ensure everything is working properly.
For some systems, depending on their location or design, maintenance can be done by the homeowner, but others will require specialized service. It’s also worth noting that a well-designed and installed solar panel system would not require much maintenance in the first place. If you’re thinking about installing a solar panel system, it’s a good idea to consider the maintenance requirements of different systems before making a final decision.
What happens if you don’t clean solar panels?
If solar panels are not kept clean, dust, dirt, and other debris can accumulate on their surface, which can affect their ability to generate electricity. When solar panels are dirty, the amount of sunlight that is able to reach the cells inside the panel is reduced, which in turn reduces the panel’s overall power output. This can mean that a dirty panel generates less electricity than it would if it were clean. Sometimes it impacts how long does a solar panel last.
The amount of energy lost due to dirt and debris can vary depending on the severity of the buildup and the specific type of panel, but it can range from a small fraction of a percent to more than a 25% reduction in output. This can be significant over time, especially if the panels are not cleaned regularly.
Also, in some cases, if not cleaned, the panels can develop a layer of dust, bird droppings, or other debris that can be hard to remove, it can be abrasive and damage the surface of the module, reducing its efficiency, decreasing the life expectancy of a solar panel, or even cause a short circuit.
Regular cleaning of solar panels, even as little as once or twice a year, can help to maintain their efficiency and prolong their lifespan. It’s important to use appropriate cleaning methods and not to damage the panels during the cleaning process. Most residential solar panel systems can be cleaned with water and mild detergent, but in some cases, it is recommended to hire a professional cleaning service or the company that installed the panels to do the cleaning.