This is the most common question for any homeowner considering installing solar panels – how long do residential solar panels last. Without knowing how long you may or may not expect your rooftop panels to produce ample energy, it makes it harder for us to understand the upfront cost of going solar. It is important to understand the industry projections and degradation rates, as long as the offset of your electricity use for decades. So, how long do solar panels last?
Generally, solar panels could last about 25 to 30 years, but that fact does not mean that they stop producing electricity after 25 years. Energy production would decline in a significant amount of time. They will continue to work for many decades, but factors like wind, debris, and any other external factors damage your panels. This is because they rarely break from within and they are usually damaged by outside forces like poor racking setup or inclement weather.
The key factor in making solar panels last: panel degradation rate
On average, solar panel output would fall by 0.8 percent each year according to a 2012 study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). If the rate would then decline, it would be called solar panel degradation rate and the decline rate would depend on which panel you buy. Premium manufacturers often offer degradation rates as low as 0.3 percent.
What does this mean? It means that you can simply multiply the degradation rate by the number of years that you are interested in, and then subtract it from 100 percent if you want to determine the projected output of your solar panels after a certain number of years.
Because solar panels come with different warranties, they can give you a sense of just how long you could expect your solar panel’s lifespan. The solar panel manufacturers will typically offer you both an equipment warranty that could certify you against manufacturing defects and give you a performance warranty that could guarantee that your panels would produce a certain amount of electricity. The warranties would typically give you 25 years so that it could give you a better sense of how much electricity to expect from your solar panels over a certain amount of time.
Can you make your solar panels last longer?
Solar panels are extremely durable and most solar manufacturers test their panels to confirm that they can withstand high winds and heavy snow loads. Many of the solar panels are specifically tested to ensure that they would be able to withstand falling hail.
If you want to make your solar panels last longer, the best way that you could do so is to work with a reputable installer that could offer you solid customer service. Many of the panel manufacturers offer you a 10 to 12-year equipment warranty for their panels that could cover all of your defects and environmental damages. Here are some of the other actions that you can take to make your solar panels last longer:
Regularly get your solar panels checked by your installer or service provider
You have to have your installer or operations and maintenance (O&M) regularly examine your solar energy system because that is the best way to ensure your solar panels can last a long time. Loose racking, exposed wired, and all of the other areas of concern are only some of the possible issues that you have to look out for, and a regular examination could be one of the only ways that could reveal that. You must make sure that your panels are securely mounted to your roof.
Keep your panels clear of debris and other damaging materials
Your installers are meant to make sure that there are no larger trees that would be able to cast a shade or drop branches on your panels when you first install your solar panels. Your solar panels would be able to produce energy for many years as long as you would be able to avoid physical damage to your solar panels, and this would possibly extend your panels’ life beyond the 25 to 30 years of a typical solar panel.
Finding a sustainable solar solution for your home is easy and going solar is an investment for not only yourself but also for the earth’s future. You would be able to ensure that your solar panel system is as sustainable as possible by researching your solar equipment manufacturers and all working with a solar installer that would be able to offer you the products that you want.