How Long Do Solar Panels Last?

If you’re considering installing solar panels, you’ve probably wondered how long your solar panels will last. While some items do improve with age, solar panels aren’t one of them, so it’s important to understand the solar panel lifespan. Read on to learn about how long solar panels last and how to keep yours lasting as long as possible.

The Lifespan of Solar Panels

How long do solar panels last? This question is more complicated than it sounds. Generally speaking, solar panels are designed to last 25–30 years. The best solar panel manufacturers and installers sometimes offer 25-year warranties because the panels can last that long without degrading very much. 8MSolar offers a 25 year, 92% guaranteed output warranty – the best warranty currently offered on solar energy production systems. Most solar panels will provide you with decades of use. 

But this question is more complicated because at that 25–30 year mark, your panels aren’t just going to stop working. Instead, they’ll continue to create electricity and power but at a significantly lower level. The first 25–30 years are what’s called the panels’ “useful life,” not necessarily its whole life. The process solar panels go through is called “degradation.” 

Once your solar panels have outlived their “useful life,” depending on your financial goals, you can choose to replace them or produce energy at a lower level. If you’re looking for panels that will completely pay your energy bill, you may find replacing your solar panels to be more advantageous. If you’re more interested in making your solar panels last, you may keep them until they stop producing energy completely.

What Makes Your Solar Panels Degrade?

Solar panel degradation will happen to all solar panels over time. It’s a process nearly every machine and electronic will go through, no matter how well made. But there are some factors that can increase your degradation and lead to less efficiency over time: 

  • Rain. Rainy days can affect how much energy you produce that day, but the rain can also lead to increased degradation. Rain can cause corrosion on your solar panels that reduce conversion efficiency. Luckily, correct installation can help reduce the chances of rain corrosion. 
  • Wind. Strong wind can make solar panels vibrate. If there’s enough vibration over time, the bonding can come undone. 
  • Heat. Heat can cause most electronics to degrade faster. Solar panels in the heat can become more brittle. More brittle panels allow more moisture to seep into the surface, which can reduce the lifespan of solar panels. In addition, high temperatures can also chip away at the binding, and that can also lead to increased degradation. 
  • Cold. Like heat, extreme temperatures can affect your solar panels. Snow and cold temperatures can cause panels to warp and crack. 
  • Sunlight. It seems backwards that sunlight (the very requirement for solar panels) can also damage your solar system, but it’s true. One of the biggest degradations your solar panels will experience is the first time they’re exposed to sunlight right after installation. Luckily, the right installer will include UV blockers to reduce as much UV damage as possible. 

If you live in a place that experiences extreme temperatures and weather, you can still get solar panels. The key is to make sure that you’re choosing the right panels and the right installer. Correct installation is the key to reducing as many of these degradation problems as possible.

Can I Make My Solar Panels Last Longer?

Solar panels will degrade at some point, no matter what you do. But there are some steps you can take to help your solar panels last at higher efficiency for as long as possible: 

  • Clean your system regularly. Removing debris, build-up, and corrosion can help keep your solar panels running efficiently for longer. Plus it’ll help you produce more energy because the grime won’t be blocking solar rays. 
  • Choose your location wisely. You’ll want to install your solar panels away from things that could cause physical damage to the panels. For example, you might not want to install your solar panels next to a large tree that could crush them if it fell during a storm. 
  • Get professional maintenance done. Have your solar provider come out and perform a “check-up” on your system. They can identify any potential problems and even do the cleaning for you. Like regular maintenance on your car, regular maintenance on your solar panels can help them last as long as possible. 

When Is the Right Time to Replace Solar Panels?

The chief indicator to consider replacing your solar panels is when they no longer yield enough power to meet your electricity costs. It’s noteworthy that the durability of solar panels has seen positive enhancements in the recent past. Older versions might have worn out quicker than today’s standards.

By leveraging a digital tool or manual device to gauge the power your panels generate, you can ascertain their rate of wear and tear. A decline in their performance doesn’t immediately suggest a need for replacement—though it might be prudent to earmark funds for future upgrades.

Investing in solar panels is a notable commitment that homeowners typically approach with caution. By acquainting yourself with their expected longevity and maintaining them effectively, you can ensure they serve your needs for many years ahead.

The key to keeping your panels working properly for three decades is to choose the right panels and solar provider. You need well-made panels and a solar company that will install them correctly and perform regular maintenance. Here at 8MSolar, we’re a certified North Carolina solar installer with the best solar panels available. Contact us today to get started with your solar panels and invest in 30 years of clean energy.

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