Understanding Degradation and the Lifespan of Solar Panels  

When people make a major purchase—whether it’s a car, computer, or refrigerator—they hope that it won’t need to be replaced anytime soon. Fortunately, home and business owners who are considering installing solar panels can rest assured that, while their panels won’t last forever, they are built to offer several decades of reliable electricity production. Here’s what you need to know about the lifespan of solar panels before deciding whether to install a solar energy system.

What Is the Lifespan of Solar Panels?

As with any piece of technology, the lifespan of a solar panel depends on a variety of factors, including climate and the quality of the installation. Generally speaking, you can expect solar panels to continue to produce an acceptable level of electricity for 30 to 35 years. The panels are at their peak performance and are usually covered by a warranty during this timeframe, but they could be operational long past their 30th birthday. However, over time, the performance level of the panels will deteriorate, resulting in reduced electricity production.

What Causes Solar Panels to Degrade?

Solar panel degradation is the gradual loss of a panel’s ability to capture solar energy. This process is inevitable and usually occurs at a rate of around 0.5% per year. Initial light exposure when panels are first installed causes a slight degradation, and exposure to the elements affects panels as they age. Some factors can also accelerate solar panel degradation, including:

  • Damp heat: Exposure to high humidity rates combined with high temperatures may cause panel degradation.
  • Temperature fluctuations: Solar panels are designed to work in any climate, but sudden shifts between extremely hot and cold temperatures can affect panel components.
  • Debris: Falling debris, such as tree branches during a hurricane or tornado, can damage the surface of solar panels.
  • Poor installation: If an installer fails to place panels at the proper angles or securely clamp them, they could experience unnecessary damage.

The degradation rate of solar panels also depends on the quality of the materials used to construct them. Some manufacturers might use lower-quality components, including glass, aluminum, and solar cells, in an effort to keep costs low. The cost of solar panels in general has gone down, so there’s no need to sacrifice quality and risk faster degradation.

Is It Possible to Extend the Life of Solar Panels?

Although it’s impossible to grant your solar panels eternal life, a little extra attention from time to time will help keep them producing ample electricity for as long as possible. These simple steps can help maximize your solar panel life expectancy:

  • Monitor the performance level of your panels.
  • Avoid allowing a heavy blanket of snow to sit on your panels for a long period of time.
  • Keep the panels clear of dirt and debris, such as leaves.
  • If you suspect there’s a problem, have a professional check your panels rather than try to repair them yourself, which could void the warranty.

In addition to this ongoing maintenance, keep in mind that achieving the longest possible solar panel lifespan begins with the initial installation. Choose reputable, experienced installers who know how to properly place and secure solar panels.

How Long Do Solar Panel Batteries Last?

Although solar panels are likely to keep producing electricity for 25 years or longer, a solar battery may require earlier replacement. Some batteries fail in as few as five years, while others match the life of solar panels. Other components, such as solar inverters, may also have shorter lifespans.

What Happens at the End of a Solar Panel’s Lifespan?

As long as you’re satisfied with the amount of electricity that a solar panel produces, you can keep it in place long after the end of its useful life. When you feel like the production ability of your solar panels no longer matches your expectations and needs, you can retire and replace them knowing that you got a great return on your investment. The installers for your new panels will provide details about the disposal of the old ones.

Choose Quality Solar Panels with Bright Eye Solar

For more than a decade, Bright Eye Solar has provided residential and commercial solar services in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland. Our top priority is ensuring that you find a solar panel system that will serve you for years to come. Reach out to get a free quote or to consult with our team of experts about which panels offer the longest-lasting electricity production for your home or business.