How Long Do Solar Panels Last

Illustration of solar panel, calendar and sun

So, how long does a solar panel last?

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that solar panel conversion efficiency typically degrades at 0.5% per year for panels made before 2000, and 0.4% for those made after. This is more of a theoretical limit and how long a solar panel actually lasts will depend upon a number of factors including the quality of the material, environmental conditions, and how well maintained the system is.

Solar panel manufacturers also offer linear performance warranties against how much decrease in power output a solar panel may experience over its useful life. For instance, solar panels made by Qcell and Trina, come with 25 year (performance) warranties, meaning the power conversion efficiency of the panels will not fall below 83% (Qcell), 80%  (Trina) of their rated value 25 years from the date of installation

Does this mean that the solar panel will simply lose its worth after 25 years? Absolutely not. The fact is no one really has a good estimate on how much power a solar panel will be producing after it has outlived its warranty period as photovoltaic technology which is currently being deployed is still pretty new.

That being said, there are encouraging signs indicating you can expect your solar panels to last for a very long time indeed! For instance, a 33W solar panel (Arco Solar 16-20001) was performing better than its original factory specs 30 years after it was manufactured. Likewise, in 1984 Sweden's first grid connected solar power system went online, and it has been reliably producing power since with no substantial reduction in output.

While a 12.5% - 20% drop in performance is no doubt significant, there is still a lot of power which you can draw from your panels post 25 years. Solar panels being made today are more robust and efficient than the ones discussed above, so their life expectancy is even higher. In fact, it won't be surprising at all if a solar panel installed today is still shipshape 30-40 years after it went up on a roof!

What can you do to make sure your solar panel last?

While solar power systems are built to endure most of what nature can throw at them, how long a solar panel lasts will also depend on how well you treat them. Here are a few precautions you could take to ensure they remain useful for a long time...

  1. Make sure they remain clear from nearby trees, and overhanging wires in order to avoid damage.
  2. If the panels get excessively dirty and are without rain for an extended period, cleaning them can help maintain production.
  3. Regularly note how much power your solar panels are producing.
  4. Take good care of the solar inverters as well. Your solar panels are really only as good as the inverters attached to them which is why verifying they are operating properly will help to ensure uninterrupted flow of power.
  5. Finally, have your solar panels installed in a place where the effect of wind and snow maybe minimized. If your system is designed by Verengo Solar, you can be sure your system will be installed in the most ideal locations by our in house solar experts!

Interested in finding out more about how solar power can help you? Verengo Solar has been installing solar power systems for a long time, and we have helped thousands of happy homeowners go solar! Start by getting a free quote from us to find out how much solar power can save you, it will only take a few minutes of your time and we will always be happy to help you with any inquiries you might have!

How do solar panels work?

A solar panel consists of many photovoltaic cells, which convert light from the sun into usable electricity. A photovoltaic cell is typically made up of silicon and uses the element's unique properties to harness sunlight. As photons (which make up sunlight) hit the solar panel's surface, they displace electrons in the silicon atoms, generating an electric current.

Solar panels have been evolving ever since since the first practical cells were developed in the mid 20th century. These come in many different shapes, sizes and configurations to suit all sorts of different requirements. Around 90% of all solar panels in the world are made using crystalline silicon (c-Si).

The two main types of crystalline silicon used in solar cells are monocrystalline and poly or multicrystalline. Monocrystalline panels offer higher efficiency than multicrystalline, but they tend to be more expensive.

Thin film solar panels made from amorphous silicon (a-Si), cadmium telluride (CdTe) and copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) are more flexible and can be adapted to a variety of different surfaces. While all of these are different substances, the same photovoltaic principles governs their workings.
 

1Source: http://cleantechnica.com/2011/12/27/solar-panels-creating-electricity-for-much-longer-than-20-years/

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