With solar energy becoming a more popular and important subject every day, questions about it are popping up left and right. After all, it is an expensive investment that you shouldn’t make without having all the facts. One of the main questions everyone has is: “how long do solar panels last?”
If you want to find out the answer to this question before you make your decision about switching to solar energy, read on. We will explain everything in detail below.
Solar Panel Lifespan
Though the question we want to answer is fairly simple, the answer is anything but. Generally speaking, solar panels last for somewhere between 25 and 30 years. However, that doesn’t mean that they just stop working after crossing that mark.
In fact, solar panels can continue to produce electricity for at least two more decades after those three are up. But the amount of energy will not be the same. It will drop significantly and reach a number so low that the panels will no longer save you money. At that point, keeping the old panels and continuing to use them will drain your budget more than using electricity from the grid would.
So, while the panels will still be usable after 30 years, their performance will decline. That is why solar energy experts thought of a measure for a panel’s lifespan. It is called the panel degradation rate.
Solar Panel Degradation Rate
According to a 2012 study, solar panels and their output decline by 0.8% each year of use, on average. Now, this number is not too much after a year or two or even ten. But after 25, your panels will produce around 20% less energy. That is a significant enough amount to be damaging to your budget and savings.
Of course, how much a panel’s output will fail also depends on the manufacturer. If they use high-quality materials and have a premium and thorough installation process, the panels’ output could decline by only 0.3% every year, which is significantly lower.
Manufacturers are working day and night to improve the industry’s standards and allow the panels to have an even longer lifespan. They are introducing new materials every day in hopes of lowering the degradation rate even further. As of right now, all reputable solar panel providers have a degradation rate that is below 1%. If a company has a higher one, looking for a different option is the way to go.
In Case of Physical Injuries to the Panels
All of the data above is relevant for panels that are in pristine physical condition. Of course, the lifespan and degradation rate of your panels will be significantly lower if they get damaged by the weather or any other catastrophe.
However, there is little reason to worry about something like that. Manufacturers make sure that the panels are durable and able to sustain heavy snow and strong winds. Likewise, the panels include protection from hale and, of course, excessive sunlight.
What You Can Do
There are certain things you can do to ensure your panels last longer. For one, you should get them checked out every few years to ensure everything is running smoothly. Then, you should try to keep them as clean from dirt and debris as you can. Doing all of that will ensure no external source can shorten their lifespan.
One of the most common questions potential solar homeowners ask is how long solar panels will last. With a reputable provider and making sure you do your part in taking care of them, your panels can last you for up to thirty years. Hopefully, this number only grows as the industry continues to develop.