How Long Do Solar Panels Really Last

By January 18, 2022No Comments

A solar panel’s useful life ties directly into your purchase decision. The longer they keep producing electricity, the higher their return on investment is. It would appear natural to go for solar panels with the longest advertised lifespan, but all too often solar shoppers default to the cheapest solar panels thinking they have bagged a great deal, however, the complete opposite applies with solar.

So, just how long do they really last in the real world?

Most solar panel manufacturers claim their panels last between 10-25 years. But what happens to them after that? Do they suddenly stop working? Can they still be useful for 30 or even 40 years? Here are all your questions about solar panel life answered.

First of all, ignore completely the linear performance claims as these are simply too vague and unenforceable. Show the salesman the front door if the bang on about performance warranties even the worst performing panels with limited warranties have a 25 year performance warranty.

How is the Life of Solar Panels Determined

Like all consumables, solar panels do degrade over time due to normal wear and tear, heat and UV radiation. A 2015 study by the US based National Renewable Energy Laboratory concluded that solar panel output dropped by 0.5% every year and some as much as 0.70% although it can be higher in hotter humid climates.

So, a solar power system that degrades at 0.5% per year will be producing 90% of its original output in 20 year’s time, and it will still be 87.5% efficient when it reaches the end of its useful life of 25 years.

The study itself included more than 30 systems in 16 countries, so it provides a pretty accurate picture of what we can expect from solar panels. However, the study averages the output of several solar panel models, so your mileage will vary depending on which brand you go with.

The “service life” figure that we see on solar panel specification sheets actually reflect their manufacturing warranty rather than their actual useful life. In fact, your panels can remain useful for well over 30 years, provided they are looked after.

Besides natural performance degradation, a solar panel’s life also depends on how well they are manufactured, installed and maintained. Regular cleaning and maintenance drills by your solar installer can help you keep your solar panels performing at optimal levels throughout their service life and more.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Solar Panel’s Life

If we keep a solar panel’s natural degradation as its performance benchmark, then you can keep them performing near their peak capacity for a long time by following a few steps.

Get a solar panel with the best performance specs: Generally speaking, solar panels from reputed manufacturers are far more robust with low degradation rates. While they may command a higher price, you’re also getting a longer service life with them. Panels from Sunpower, Jinko 6TL3, REC Alpha, LG and others have degradation rates between 0.2% to 0.4% per year.

You can also make an educated guess on what you can expect from a solar panel by checking out their warranties. Manufacturers will guarantee their panel’s output won’t fall below a certain threshold over a period of time.

For example, if a manufacturer guarantees 90% output of its original rated wattage at 10 years, and 80% output at 25 years, then the panel has a degradation rate of around 1% per year.

Get your panels from a professional installer: There are many solar panel brands and you’re probably not going to be familiar with all the options that are currently available. At bidmysolar we will help you with getting the best possible options for your money.

Furthermore, a good installer will also follow our design of your solar system such that it performs well for as long as possible. Using a well checked and capable installer who will inspect all the components properly to ensure there are no mismatches, cracks, snail-trails, module damage, and avoid bad wiring etc before putting them on your roof. Again, this may cost a little extra, but will probably not give you constant headaches over its service life and will deliver consistent savings.

Clean and maintain your solar panels regularly: You can certainly give your panels a spray-down few months or so. But, it would be best if a solar installer or cleaning service took care of them.

Leave the Finding to Us

Being Australia’s leading solar search engine, we at bidmysolar™ know a thing or two about finding solar panels that outlast everything else and the right installers to put them on your roof.

We only use the most trusted solar panels and the most reputed installers to help you get the best power system possible. Furthermore, we’re with you every step of the way from start to finish to ensure the solar installer does their job professionally.

Check out our process or feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.