What is the Lifespan of Solar Panels? Tips to Prevent Degradation

Solar panels have become increasingly popular as a renewable energy source in recent years. However, many people are curious about their lifespan. How long can they be expected to last before needing to be replaced? 

While the answer to this question depends on several factors, such as the quality of the panels and the climate they are exposed to, there are some general estimates that can be made. 

In this article, we will explore the lifespan of solar panels and what factors can affect their longevity.

solar panel reflection

Understanding Solar Panels

Solar panels, also known as photovoltaic (PV) panels, are devices that convert sunlight into electricity. They are made up of solar cells that are connected together to form a panel. When sunlight hits the solar cells, it creates an electric field that allows electrons to flow, generating direct current (DC) electricity.

Solar panels are made up of various components, including the solar cells, a frame, a glass cover, and wiring. The solar cells are the most important component of the panel, and they come in different types, such as monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film. 

The frame provides structural support, while the glass cover protects the solar cells from the elements and allows sunlight to pass through. Wiring connects the solar cells to an inverter, which converts the DC electricity into alternating current (AC) electricity that can be used in homes and businesses.

The technology behind solar panels has improved significantly over the years, resulting in increased efficiency and durability. However, solar panels can still degrade over time due to various factors, such as exposure to the elements, shading, and temperature fluctuations. 

To prevent degradation and extend the lifespan of solar panels, proper maintenance is crucial. This includes regular cleaning, monitoring for shading, and ensuring that the panels are installed correctly.

solar panels in field

Lifespan of Solar Panels

Solar panels are a long-term investment, and it’s really important to know how long they will last. The typical lifespan of a solar panel is between 25 to 30 years, according to the latest studies. However, the lifespan of them can vary depending on various factors, such as the specific type of panel, the panel’s quality, and whether or not the panel is correctly maintained.

The longevity of solar panels is a crucial factor to consider when purchasing solar panels. The manufacturer plays a significant role in determining the lifespan of solar panels. High-quality solar panels from reputable manufacturers tend to last longer and perform better than low-quality panels from less reputable manufacturers.

Modern solar panels have a low rate of degradation, which is around 0.2%-0.3% per year. Monocrystalline panels tend to last longer than polycrystalline panels. Proper maintenance can also extend the lifespan of solar panels.

It’s important to note that a solar panel won’t die after 25-30 years, but its power output will decrease significantly below what the manufacturer projected. Therefore, it’s you’ll need to consider the expected lifespan of solar panels when making your investment decision.

solar panel close up

Factors Affecting Solar Panel Lifespan

Solar panels are a long-term investment, and their lifespan is a crucial factor to consider when purchasing them:

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors such as weather conditions can affect theirlifespan. Inclement weather such as snow loads and high temperatures can cause damage to solar panels. Light-induced degradation and age-related degradation can also impact the lifespan of solar panels.

Manufacturing Quality

The quality of solar panels is a key factor in determining their lifespan. The manufacturer, the quality of silicon, glass, and plastic used, and the manufacturing process can all affect the lifespan of solar panels. High-quality solar panels are less likely to degrade over time and come with a performance warranty.

Installation and Racking

The installation and racking of solar panels can also impact their lifespan. Microcracks, corrosion, and potential-induced degradation (PID) can occur during installation if not done correctly. Using high-quality racking and a professional installer can prevent these issues and ensure the longevity of solar panels.

bad weather for solar panels

Maintaining Solar Panel Efficiency

Solar panels are a long-term investment and require regular maintenance to ensure they operate at peak efficiency throughout their lifespan. Proper maintenance can prevent physical and performance degradation, which can reduce power output and efficiency.

Preventing Physical Degradation

Physical degradation can occur due to debris, branches, or scratches on the surface of the solar panels. Owners should regularly inspect their solar panels to ensure they are free of debris and remove any fallen leaves, branches or other debris that may accumulate on the surface. Keeping the surrounding area free from trees or other shading objects is also essential to prevent physical degradation.

Preventing Performance Degradation

Regular maintenance, such as cleaning the panels, checking the electrical connections, and ensuring the solar system is functioning correctly, can prevent performance degradation. Additionally, owners should ensure that their solar panels are installed correctly and free from shading objects.

It’s important to note that solar panel performance warranties often cover a period of 25 years, ensuring that the panels will maintain a certain level of power output over that time. 

However, regular maintenance is necessary to ensure that the panels operate at peak efficiency for the duration of their lifespan.

cleaning solar panels