The Lifespan of Solar Panels: The Complete Guide about the PV System Life Cycle

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Last Updated on November 1, 2023 by admin

The Lifespan of Solar Panels: The Complete Guide about the PV System Life Cycle

Solar energy is gaining traction and more and more people are opting for solar energy now more than ever. It is a clean, sustainable energy source with the potential to drastically lessen our dependency on fossil fuels. One of the most important components of a solar system is the solar panel, which is utilized for converting sunlight into electricity. However, many people are curious about the lifespan of solar panels and how long they can expect them to last. In this article, we will explore the lifespan of solar panels and what factors can affect their longevity.

lifespan of solar panels

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Important Points To Remember:

  • Finding out the longevity of your solar panels can give insight into how long it will take for your system to completely offset your initial investment cost.
  • The natural reduction in the chemical potency of solar panels is known as the degradation rate.
  • Solar degradation rate varies anywhere from around 0.3% to 1%. According to a study by National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), an average panel usually loses about 0.8% of its output annually.
  • High-quality solar panels are more resistant to deterioration over time and can withstand extreme weather.
  • Proper installation is essential to ensure that a solar panel operates at peak efficiency and lasts as long as possible.
  • To staunchly secure the solar panels on your rooftop, you require some other solar accessories like racking mounts.
  • The average lifespan of a solar inverter is about 10 to 12 years, so the replacement of inverters is a must at least once in the entire lifespan of solar panels.

What is in this article?

What is the Lifespan of Solar Panels?

The question that bothers every solar system owner is if I switch to solar energy, how long my solar PV modules will last? Solar panels are exceptionally durable. The lifespan of solar panels can be anywhere from around 25 to 30 years. Finding out the longevity of your solar panels can give insights into how long it will take for your system to completely offset your initial investment cost. Moreover, this will also assist you in comparing the initial installation cost with the lifespan of solar panels. Also, you will have a glimpse of whether you are getting a good return on investment or not.

A solar panel’s lifespan can vary depending on several parameters. These factors may include the panel’s quality, its installation procedure, and its maintenance. In general, solar panels have a lasting ability of about 25 to 30 years. But, with good care and upkeep, some panels can work even longer. The lifespan of solar panels also takes a hit by other factors like inclement weather conditions, autumn leaves, and debris. Such variables have a strong impact on the degradation rate of solar PV modules.

What is the Solar Degradation Rate?

The natural reduction in the chemical potency of solar panels is known as the solar degradation rate. As the panels age, their ability to convert sunlight into electrical power slowly starts to diminish. However, degradation depends on the type of panels you are utilizing. For example, crystalline solar panels degrade under conditions like inclement climate conditions, birds nesting, heavy soiling, or improper solar installation.

type of degradation

The degradation rate also depends on the brand of your solar panels. The better the quality of the panels, the lesser will be the degradation rate. This will eventually elevate the efficiency level of your solar PV modules.

Solar degradation rate varies anywhere from around 0.3% to 1%. According to a study by National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), an average panel usually loses about 0.8% of its output annually. A good solar installation company like Solar SME will offer panels with a degradation rate as low as 0.3 %. The degradation factor is very important to consider while purchasing solar arrays.

solar panel degradation rate

What are the Factors that Impact the Lifespan of Solar Panels?

1. The Solar Panels' Quality:

The quality of a solar panel is among the most significant variables that might affect its lifespan. High-quality solar panels are more resistant to deterioration over time and can withstand extreme weather. Inexpensive solar panels can be more susceptible to damage and might not last long.

The kind of materials that are used in a solar panel’s manufacturing is what decides its excellence. For example, High-quality silicon solar panels tend to be more durable and have a longer lifespan than panels with low-quality silicon. It is important to choose solar panels from reputable manufacturers that use high-quality materials to ensure that they last as long as possible.

2. Solar Installation:

The installation of solar panels can also impact their lifespan. Panels that are put improperly or the area of their placement is unsuited for solar energy production, may not last long. It is important to hire a reputable installer who has experience installing solar panels in your locality.

Proper installation is essential to ensure that a solar panel operates at peak efficiency and lasts as long as possible. It is the responsibility of the solar installer to ensure that the panels are installed at the optimal angle and direction. Installer will also assure that the panels are properly anchored to withstand high winds and other weather conditions.

3. Maintenance:

A solar panel needs to be properly maintained to function at its best and survive as long as feasible. This entails routinely cleaning the panel and keeping an eye on its functionality to spot any problems right away.

You may fix any concerns early on and stop them from causing more damage by monitoring your panels’ performance and issues that may signal a problem. Preventing dirt and debris from building up on the panels can help preserve their effectiveness over time.

4. Environmental Factors:

Environmental factors can also impact the lifespan of a solar panel. For example, panels in areas with extreme temperatures, high winds, or heavy snowfall may experience more wear and tear over time.

By choosing the right type of solar panel and taking steps to protect it, you can help ensure the longevity of your solar system. This may include installing a protective cover over the panels or using a monitoring system to track their performance and detect any issues early on.

5. Types of Solar Panels:

The type of solar panels can also impact longevity. There are different types of solar panels, each with its advantages and disadvantages.

For instance, monocrystalline silicon panels have a long lifespan and great efficiency, but they might also cost more than other kinds of solar panels. On the other hand, polycrystalline panels are less effective, but might be more inexpensive.

Another choice that may be more adaptable and lightweight than conventional solar panels is thin-film technology. However, they may have a shorter lifespan than other types of solar PV modules and may not be as efficient at converting sunlight into electricity.

factor affect lifespan of solar panels

What are the Other Solar Components that Have the Potential to Wear Out?

1. Wiring:

The wiring is an inevitable part of your solar system. Wires are the component that transfers AC power from the solar panels to the inverter and from there the DC power transmission takes place to your household electronic appliances. Thus, if any kind of damage happens to the wiring between the inverter and the panel, you will see a significant decrease in the solar energy production of your solar PV modules. This will eventually impact the overall lifespan of solar panels.

2. Solar Inverters:

The solar system absorbs sunlight to generate DC electricity. But this energy is not functional because household appliances usually run-on AC power. To solve this issue, you need to install a solar inverter along with your solar PV modules. Solar inverters may not be the most prominent part of solar arrays, but they hold the position of the most crucial component in solar arrays.

On top of that, solar inverters will draw electricity from the grid, in case your solar system might run into a power shortage as well as they can also send the excess solar power from your PV modules back to the grid station, presuming your state allows the net metering.

The average lifespan of a solar inverter is about 10 to 12 years, so the replacement of inverters is a must at least once in the entire lifespan of solar panels. Thereupon, for the proper functioning of your solar system, you need to ensure the optimal performance of the solar inverters. Inverters are usually the most damaged part among the solar components. The following charts will help you visual how many times a solar inverter take a hit in case of inclement events:

PV system components faults

3. Racking Mounts:

To staunchly secure the solar panels on your rooftop, you require a lot of physical attachments. These attachments are often referred to as racking mounts.

Just like your solar panels, these racking mounts also have to face dire weather conditions like snow, rain, hurricanes, and hot temperatures. This will cause the proficiency level of the mounts to abate over time. Consequently, during harsh climate conditions, these weather-beaten mounting racks can cause massive damage to the other component of the solar system.

4. Solar Batteries:

Solar batteries are able to store the surplus electricity of your solar PV modules. Due to solar batteries, you are able to shave off the extra cost of expensive utility electricity. Solar batteries will allow you to wield solar power at peak hours. The average lifespan of the solar battery is usually about ten years. Thus, the replacement of solar batteries becomes mandatory at least once in the lifespan of solar panels, since solar arrays last for about 25 to 30 years.

How to Improve the Life Expectancy of Solar Panels?

Solar PV modules are an investment in renewable energy and can provide clean, efficient power for years to come. However, like any technology, panels have the ability to degrade over time. The wear and tear of arrays happen due to environmental factors. Here is how you can improve the life expectancy of your solar panels.

1. Regular Cleaning:

The efficiency of solar panels drops due to dust and debris. Dust usually forms a layer on top of panels which eventually cut down the sunlight absorption capability of solar arrays. Hence, dropping the total yield of the PV modules. The types of debris like pollens and bird droppings can also damage the glass as well as the electrical components of your panels.

To avoid such situations annual servicing of your solar PV modules is a must thing to do. Also if you live in an area where your panels might be subject to face dry weather conditions. Then you need to frequently clean your panels for the sake of their proper functioning.

2. Invest in High-Quality Equipment:

Choosing high-quality panels and other equipment can help ensure that they will perform reliably. Look for panels with a high-efficiency rating, durable materials, and a good warranty. Just like the Solar SME “PANTHER” and “TANGO” panels. These panels come with 12 years of performance warranty and 25 years of equipment warranty. But with proper care and maintenance, these panels have a lasting ability of almost about 50 years.

The lifespan of a solar panel can vary depending on several factors, including the quality of the panel, the environment in which it is installed, and how well it is maintained. By choosing high-quality panels, hiring a professional installer, keeping your panels clean, monitoring performance, and scheduling regular maintenance, you can help ensure that your panels last for as long as possible. With proper care and maintenance, solar panels can provide clean, renewable energy for decades to come.

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