Have you invested a pretty penny into a solar system, or are you maybe entertaining the thought? Although switching to solar energy will save you a tidy sum of money in the future, you are probably wondering — how often do I need to replace my solar panels?
Reducing electricity bills, helping the environment, and increasing your home value are good enough reasons to take this step. However, the cost of solar panel replacement, as well as its lifespan, are all legitimate concerns. Luckily, we bear good news. Solar systems are highly durable and need very little maintenance, which means they’ll be efficient for a long time.
The Lifespan of Solar Panels
Once you install solar panels, also known as photovoltaic (PV) modules, you can expect 25-30 years’ worth of clean energy. Thanks to the longevity of these modules, you can end up saving a large sum of money over the years. Also, it doesn’t mean your panels will stop working after this time.
During their average lifespan, your PV panels will experience a gradual decrease in productivity. This means that panels’ efficiency in producing energy will degrade. The rate of degradation of solar panels is on average 0.5% a year. So, in 20 years, your PV modules should still be working at a 90% efficiency rate.
These numbers mean that whether you decide to replace your panels or not primarily depends on your household needs. If you find the energy production satisfactory at 90% or 80% system efficiency, then you can use the PV panels even longer.
However, if you experience a significant drop in energy production, or if your utility bills suddenly grow, you may want to replace the panels.
How to Extend Solar Panel Lifetime?
As mentioned, the average rate of degradation of solar panels ranges from 0.3%-0.8% a year. To what extent the panel will degrade mostly based on the quality of the panels, how they were installed in the first place, and maintenance. Luckily, there are some precautions you can take to extend your system’s lifespan.
Choose a Good Installer
If you want to extend the solar panel life, first make sure you choose a trustworthy installer. A good solar panel provider will use top-notch materials and install the PV system professionally and correctly. And most importantly, they will issue a warranty on their products and services.
Monitor the System
To ensure your panels have a long life, do a visual check of the system every now and then. Spotting potential problems early on will help you prevent major issues from happening in the long run.
Maintain the System
As we mentioned, solar panels require basic maintenance, so they don’t usually need regular cleaning. However, if you live in an area where there is a lot of dust, sand, dirt, or any debris, you should consider cleaning them more often.
Piling up dirt, pollen, or leaves can influence the panels’ efficiency. Usually, the rain will take care of this problem. If that is not the case, to extend the panels’ lifespan, you might require professional cleaning as well.
What Else Should You Replace?
Other than the entire PV system, you might need to replace some segments of the module over time. One of the parts you might consider replacing is the solar panel inverter. Although many inverters nowadays last as long as the system, some need replacement after 10 or 15 years.
If a solar battery is a part of your solar system, it might need changing as well after a while. Luckily, they are easy to replace, since the old one just slides out, and you can put in a new one.
After a while, you might need to replace the solar racking as well to ensure the PV module is safely fixed. However, these systems are very durable, and might not need any work done for quite some time.
If you have any doubts about the durability of your solar panels, rest assured you have made a good choice by installing them. Provided you have chosen a reputable provider, and you have maintained the system correctly, you should be carefree for quite a number of years. You will most likely enjoy clean and affordable energy for a few decades before having to change your solar panels.