Solar panels come with many benefits — they significantly reduce your electricity bills and provide clean and renewable energy to your home. Still, their installation and maintenance are undeniably pricey, which is why many owners want them to work as long as possible. But how long do they last exactly? And can solar panels exceed their shelf life? Read on to find the answers to both of those questions.
How Long Do Solar Panels Last?
Solar panels are built to last a long time and withstand all elements — from strong winds to hail and snow. Naturally, they’re not entirely invincible and may sustain some damage over time. But if they don’t, their typical shelf life is between 25 and 30 years, after which most manufacturers recommend replacement.
Still, we should mention that it’s not quite as clear-cut as that. Your solar panels won’t simply stop working once they enter their thirtieth year. In fact, they’ll still be able to produce power — only their output will be lower. That’s mainly due to the so-called solar panel degradation rate.
What is Solar Panel Degradation Rate?
According to a study, the output of a typical solar panel decreases by 0.8% each year. In other words, if your solar panel operated at its full capacity in the first year, in the next one, its output will be 99.2% of the original. That’s called solar panel degradation rate; no panel is immune to it.
Still, let’s take a look at the numbers if a solar panel degradation rate really is 0.8%. By the end of the 25-year period, the panel will be operating at 82.5% of its original capacity. Clearly, that doesn’t mean it’s unusable or broken. Such a panel can serve you well, especially if your electrical needs aren’t too big.
On top of that, solar panels now aren’t the same as in, let’s say, 2012. The technology has evolved, leading to sturdier panels with lower degradation rates. Nowadays, most solar panels you come across will have a degradation rate of only 0.5%. Twenty-five years down the line, they will be operating at 87.5% of the original output, which isn’t all that bad. And in the future, the solar panel degradation rate is sure to become even lower!
How to Make Sure Your Solar Panels Last Longer
Clearly, solar panels can exceed their shelf life, even if their output is somewhat decreased. There are also measures you can take to ensure they last longer than your warranty says while still producing enough energy to sustain you.
For example, you can make sure to properly maintain your solar panels. Schedule regular checkups with your service provider or installer to see whether everything’s working properly. They should be able to spot all potential issues and resolve them for you on the spot.
Also, don’t forget to examine your solar panels after each storm, especially if there was hail. In most cases, they will be fine, but it’s always better to check. If you discover damage, contact your service provider immediately. They will look into it and make the necessary repairs.
Though solar panels have an official shelf life, they can quite easily exceed it with proper care and maintenance. Naturally, that’s not something you should do alone, especially if you’re not an expert. Instead, call a professional to take care of your solar panels properly.
And if you’re looking for one, you’ve come to the right place. Atlantic Key Energy specializes in solar panel installation and maintenance, and our experts are some of the best ones you can find. Not entirely convinced? Give us a call, and you’ll see for yourself!