Solar panels are a major investment in your home, farm or ranch. Before you take the leap and invest, it's important to know what you're getting for your money and how long your solar panels will last.
Like any mechanical system, solar panels have finite lifespans — most panels are designed to have a "useful lifespan" of 25 to 30 years. After this window, while your panels will continue to function and produce electricity, their productivity will decrease.
This gradual decline in productivity is often referred to as solar panel degradation.
While solar panels are ruggedly durable, degradation occurs over time as your panels age. Exposure to extreme cold, heat, humidity and other weather conditions can degrade your panels' components and reduce their productivity and efficiency. Your commercial or residential solar panels begin to deteriorate the day they're installed. This process is a normal and unavoidable part of investing in any mechanical system for your property.
Many warranties assume a degradation rate of approximately 1% per year, meaning that after 25 years, your solar panel productivity has degraded to 75% of its initial power. Manufacturers consider solar panels past their useful life when their productivity drops below 80%. However, research has shown that the 1% figure is pessimistic for modern systems, and actual degradation rates are closer to 0.5% to 0.8% per year.
Higher-quality panels often degrade slower than other options because they're designed with features to extend their lifespan, like UV protection and upgraded racking systems.
While some degradation is unavoidable, there are things you can do to maximize your solar panel lifespan. The first and most crucial step is installing your panels installed with industry experts, like our team at S&H Solar.
Experienced technicians ensure your placement is optimal, avoiding trees that could cast shadows or drop branches and debris on your panels. They'll also securely and correctly install every element of your system, including your rack, wiring and panels.
While your solar panels won't require much maintenance, it's important to periodically check and clean them. Have your installer inspect your panels to ensure your rack and wiring are holding up and there aren't apparent problems with your panels. Be sure to clear any debris or heavy snow off of your panels to reduce strain on your system.
While your solar panel's productive lifetime may end around 25 to 30 years, solar panels can continue working for decades more. Solar panels don't go bad or stop working entirely but gradually decline in productivity. You should consider replacing your solar panels if they show major signs of damage, like cracks, or if they stop producing enough electricity for your home or business.
At S&H Solar, we're dedicated to empowering you with the ability to own your power. We want to equip your homestead, ranch or farm with solar panels so you can sustainably produce the power you need and reduce your energy bills. Find out more about our solar system products and services by giving us a shout online or calling 940-247-9960 today.