Not sure how often do solar panels need to be replaced? Read our complete guide to find out what are the right steps to take.
Solar Panels are the future of electric power, and they have to be long-lasting just like all other electric appliances we use.
But do you know how long the solar panels actually last?
When do they need to be replaced?
Let us give you a slight idea regarding this.
The average lifespan of a solar panel is 35-40 years, if not physically damaged.
It is recommended to replace a solar panel when its efficiency drops below 80%. Most companies claim their solar panels to give 80% efficiency for at least 25 years.
A study by National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) says that the efficiency of a solar panel decreases by 0.5% every year. If you calculate using these figures, your solar panels will easily last 40 years, if not damaged physically. This is mainly because it doesn’t have any moving parts.
There are a lot of questions that would be arising in your mind like,
How are solar panels affected by efficiency drop?
How do we slow down the efficiency drop and how to cope up with the drop, if it happens at all?
Don’t worry. Every single question will be answered through this article and it will result in making your solar panels last even longer.
How Long Does A Solar Panel Last?
Let’s begin with clearing this basic question that if you are investing in a solar panel how long will it last.
According to National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), it is found that solar panels made before 2000 decreases their performance at a rate of 0.8-1% per year and it is less than 0.4 per cent for panels made after 2000. This rate of decrease in performance is called solar panel degradation rate.
This rate of degradation may vary brand to brand, but this rate is constantly improving as the technology is progressing.
Degradation rates are mostly under 1% for most companies. However, these numbers have improved in recent years. Solar panels, nowadays, have become a lot more efficient and their degradation rates are under 0.5 per cent.
According to 0.8 per cent degradation rate, your solar panels will be working at 99.2 per cent in 2 years, meaning the panels will be working at 82.5 per cent efficiency even after their claimed lifespan, which is 25 years usually.
If we talk about current standards, which is 0.5 per cent, your panels will be working at 87.5 per cent, which is a fabulous number.
Doing the math, according to this degradation rate, your solar panels will last approximately 200 years before they completely die and their efficiency reaches 0%.
All solar panels come with a warranty, but warranty terms may vary from company to company. Solar panel manufacturers provide warranty for manufacturing defects, performance levels, etc.
Most users will undoubtedly replace or upgrade their panel before that, to get better efficiency and better aesthetics.
Did you know?
In US federal buildings there are Solar heaters running with 40 years old solar panels. These systems require 2 panels to run and undoubtedly these panels are almost double the size of what the current size is.
But considering this, you can easily agree that solar panels are very durable and reliable.
How Durable Are Solar Panels?
There are a lot of factors on which the durability of a solar panel depend. Let’s begin this discussion.
In general, Solar Panels are very durable. They are made to withstand heavy snowfalls and hailstorms. Most solar panels go through special tests to ensure they can withstand hailstorms.
A reputed company will provide tempered glass for your solar panels, the other option will be flat plate glass, which is far less durable, and is very inexpensive. We suggest that you always go for tempered glass for better durability.
Some reports say that most solar panels come out just fine after a heavy hailstorm. However, some other non-solar parts of the roof had some damages and had to be replaced.
Know more about How Do Solar Panels Work?
How Often Solar Panels Need To Be Cleaned?
Due to direct exposure to the atmosphere, there is a clear chance of solar panels getting dirty, so they need to be cleaned in intervals. But there are proper ways to do that. You don’t want your solar panels to get damaged.
Solar companies suggest cleaning the panels 2 times a year, but 1 time will be okay if the conditions are good.
If you live in an area which is comparatively more polluted, you may need to get it cleaned more often. Any debris and dust particles can directly impact the production of energy, so you will have to take care of that.
If you have solar panels installed near trees, you may need to take special care as leaves can block the sunlight and impact the energy production drastically.
Cleaning your solar panels regularly can improve their efficiency. You can hire cleaning services starting from as low as $30.
But, just in case, if you decide to clean them on your own you should follow these steps:
- You need to check for any special instructions given for cleaning your particular solar panels. If you don’t find them, check online or contact the solar company. You should make sure that you follow any special instructions that came with your panel.
- Sometimes, panels can be too hot to touch. So, you should clean them early morning or when the sun is setting down.
- You can use a garden hose to spray water on the panels. That will be enough to wipe down all the dust in some cases.
- Or you can take a bucket of soapy, warm water, and use a soft cloth or a sponge to wipe down the dirt.
What Are The Factors That Can Degrade The Panels?
Extreme weather conditions can cause the panels to degrade faster than average.
In heavy snow and cold temperatures, solar panels show the highest degradation rate. However, regularly removing the snow and cleaning the panels will show a slower degradation rate.
On the other hand, in extremely hot weather, due to UV rays, panels show a faster rate of degradation.
In moderate temperatures in North America, the panels have shown the lowest degradation rate of 0.1%. That is 96% efficiency even after 20 years.
All the solar companies provide up to 25 years, but in good conditions, you can expect solar panels to work for almost 40 years efficiently. You can expect it to work for 40 years more if you don’t care about efficiency.
Solar Panels are very efficient and long-lasting, so before making the decision just keep in mind that the warranty suits you.
Here is a list of Solar Panel manufacturers along with their warranties:
|Boviet Solar||12 years|
|Canadian Solar||10 years|
|Centro Solar||10 years|
|CertainTeed Solar||10 years|
|China Sunergy||10 years|
|ET SOlar||10 years|
|Grape Solar||10 years|
|Green Brilliance||5 years|
|Hanwha Q CELLS||12 years|
|Jinko Solar||10 years|
|LONGi Solar||10 years|
|Mission Solar Energy||12 years|
|Neo Solar Power||10 years|
|Peimar Group||20 years|
|Phono Solar||12 years|
|REC Solar||10 years|
|Recom Solar||12 years|
|Renogy Solar||10 years|
|RGS Energy||11 years|
|Solartech Universal||15 years|
|Trina Solar||10 years|
|Trina Solar Energy||10 years|
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Solar Panels ever expire?
The answer to this is no. No solar panel comes with an expiry date, but almost all companies do provide a warranty of around 25 years.
What is the life expectancy of a Solar Panel?
Companies claim that even after 20-25 years of use, solar panels work at 80% efficiency. But you can easily expect the panels to work for at least 40 years without any problem.
Do Solar Panels need maintenance?
Solar panels may need little to no maintenance for at least 20-25 years, depending on the weather and the area they are being installed in. The only thing they need in the name of maintenance is yearly cleaning, which is very easy.