How long do solar panels last? Do they become less effective over time?

Something that every homeowner and business owner wonders when they are considering purchasing solar panels is how long they will last. We love answering this question because we think that you’ll love the answer! Solar panels last long past their point of payback (which is around ten years). They last so long that you might need to replace your roof before replacing any solar panels.

So, how long do solar panels last? We’re here to answer that question and more!

long lasting solar panels on snowy roof

How Long do Solar Panels Last

Solar panels last approximately 25-30 years before you’ll see any significant amount of degradation or decrease in their energy production. Do note that high-quality solar panel brands often offer a 25-year warranty that covers any issues you might have with your panels. If something goes wrong with the panels, or they begin to operate at less capacity than is specified in the warranty, you can get them replaced at no cost. That’s a full warranty!

At Sun Badger Solar, we also offer a 25-year workmanship warranty to match the panels’ 25-year warranty. If something goes wrong with your solar installation, we’ll be there to make it right and ensure that you get the service you need. Between these two warranties—the manufacturer’s and our own—you can rest easy knowing that your solar panels will continue to save you money for years to come.

home solar panel installation by Sun Badger Solar

Degradation of Solar Panels

Degradation is a word used by solar companies to talk about the decrease in optimal electricity that is created by solar panels. Degradation rates refer to the rate at which panel degradation takes place. Or, in other words, how long it takes for a solar panel to produce less electricity than it did when it was first installed. Most homeowners won’t notice any significant degradation to their solar panels, but they may begin to receive slightly less electricity from their panels nonetheless.

Solar panels degrade the majority of what they will in their lifetime within the first two years of operation. Some of the newest solar panels only have a 0.5% or 0.3% degradation rate for each year in operation. That means that even after 25 years, they’ll be producing electricity at around 85% to 90% of their factory fresh capacity. Keep in mind that at a rate like that, solar panels will continue producing electricity for years after they’ve been installed.

Causes of Solar Panel Degradation

Solar panels are designed to live outside on top of roofs or in open fields, but that doesn’t mean that they are totally resistant to the weather. The constant heating and cooling of the outdoor temperature causes the elements within solar panels to expand and contract. Over time the stress from expanding and contracting causes tiny cracks and fractures in the elements that don’t allow them to perform at their maximum capacity. High winds can also cause panels to flex, leading to more cracks. Panels aren’t designed to mitigate the damage that these outdoor elements cause completely. Still, they are designed to withstand the most of it while not significantly inhibiting their ability to produce electricity.

Many individuals ask if the sun damages the solar panels. While yes, the sun is an incredibly powerful source that does do some damage to anything that is exposed to it for extended periods of time, many solar manufacturers equip their panels with UV blockers. However, one of the main reasons that solar panels experience the most significant amount of degradation in their first two to three years after installation is due to the sun. This 1% – 3% degradation period is known as light-induced degradation.

solar panels withstanding the weather

Solar Panels After 30 Years

While degradation is an unavoidable part of owning solar panels, the savings, and energy that your solar panels produce don’t end when the panels mature to 30 years of age. Solar manufacturers determine that the useful life of solar panels ends after the production dips below 80% of what it was when they were new. But, the panels and your solar energy system will continue to produce electricity for many years after that point, they’ll just be less efficient.

Don’t let degradation scare you away from purchasing solar panels. There’s still a lot of value offered during the lifetime of solar panels. Many homeowners pay off their solar panels in just ten years, and commercial solar panels can be paid off in even less time. After they paid off, the energy savings turn into a profit.

Solar Panel Maintenance

One of the best things about solar panels is that they don’t require any maintenance. This is because solar panels are designed to capture and convert sunlight to electricity without any moving parts. There are, however, a few different things that you can do to ensure that they continue to produce the maximum amount of electricity.

solar panel installation. The best solar installers

Regular Check-Ins

Checking in on your solar panels and their production is a great way to ensure that they continue to operate at full strength. During the manufacturing of solar panels, they undergo rigorous testing to simulate hail, heavy snowfalls, and other storm debris. This ensures that they’re able to handle a lot of what mother nature throws at them. But nonetheless, they need to be checked on from time to time. Just like you’d want to check in on your roof after a big storm or heavy winds, be sure to check on your solar panels as well.

Keep Them Free of Debris

Additionally, keeping your panels free of debris will help to ensure that they produce their maximum amount of electricity. After a summer storm, check to make sure there aren’t any loose branches caught in between the panels or leaves stuck to the top of the panels. While solar panels can be cleaned of dirt, dust, and other similar build-ups, it’s important that you remove any large debris so that the panels aren’t obstructed.

solar panels on home covered in snow

Partner with a Reputable Solar Installer

When you’re out checking your solar panels, you might notice that one of them is slightly loose from heavy wind, rains, or other factors. This is one reason why it’s important to use a reputable solar installer that offers a warranty on the work that they do. You’ll want to be able to contact your solar installer so that they can come and check in on your panels and ensure that everything is secure and working correctly.

Working with the right solar installer will help to ensure that you’re well taken care of throughout the lifetime of your solar panels. That’s the customer service you’ll receive when you choose to invest in solar panels through Sun Badger.

beautiful home with solar panels on the roof

Get Your Panels and System Checked by the Installer

Every few years, it’s wise to get your panels checked by the installer to ensure everything is working properly. While the panels themselves will last for many many years, the central PV system may need to be replaced after the first 10-15 years. This is normal and shouldn’t be too expensive to replace.

The PV system is the part of your system that converts the solar energy to electricity before sending it to different areas of your house. Without it, you won’t be able to use any of the power generated by your solar system. If you have more questions about the PV system, be sure to reach out to your local solar installer or the Sun Badger team.

If you’re interested in receiving a quote on residential or commercial solar panels, we’d love to talk with you. Our solar experts will also work with you to ensure that you receive the maximum tax benefits based on the solar energy system that you’re installing.

Solar is truly an investment into your future, and Sun Badger Solar would love to be a part of it. Reach out to us today to get started with your free solar estimate.

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