Solar energy is a great alternative source of energy as it provides completely clean energy without producing any harmful elements. On top of that, solar energy is getting cheaper every day as the apparatus that is needed to convert solar energy into electrical energy is getting more and more affordable every day.
One of the most important parts of a solar energy system is a solar panel, without which you cannot begin to harness solar energy. The solar panels basically provide a large surface area where solar cells come into direct contact with sunlight. Thus, large amounts of solar energy can be converted into electricity at once thanks to the solar panels and their capacity to form large solar panel arrays.
But, solar panels are not completely free from additional expenses as you will have to invest some time and effort in maintaining these panels all year. As these panels are exposed to the environment all year, they come into contact with water, snow, dust, and many other factors which might potentially damage the device. Hence, you need to make sure that the solar panel which you are installing is the most durable option available in your budget.
Let’s take a look at the lifespan of a standard solar panel and study various factors that affect the lifespan of a solar panel. We will also discuss some methods to extend the lifespan of a solar panel, so make sure you don’t miss that.
How Long Do Solar Panels Last?
As there has been an ever-growing demand for solar systems and solar panels, there are many different manufacturers that offer high-quality solar panels. Thus, even a budget-focused option would easily last about 20 to 25 years without any problem. As for some premium solar panels, you can expect about 40 to 50 years of lifespan without a doubt. Along with that, you will also get a performance warranty on these panels which covers nearly half of its lifespan.
Generally, you will get a great performance output from a solar panel for the first few years of installation. After that, you will start to notice some irregularities in the operation of these panels, such as reduced power generation and slower performance. This can be caused by external damage to the solar panel. If you clean your solar panel regularly and maintain it, you will not find more than a 20% drop in efficiency before the warranty period ends for the panel.
Also, keep in mind that, unlike other power generation systems, the capacity of the system does not matter when it comes to the lifespan of a single solar panel. If anything, the life expectancy is higher for large solar panel systems as there are lesser chances of damage for a single panel. Let’s try to understand why the performance of a solar panel degrades over time.
The Causes of Degradation
Here are some commonly observed facts that degrade the performance of a solar panel over time.
1. Light Induced Degradation
The light-induced degradation is a very common phenomenon in solar panels. Still, the effects of LID are quite minimal, so it is not a big problem. This degradation is basically the difference between the theoretical capacity of the panel and the actual output available after installation. During initial exposure to sunlight, the conductivity of the panel drops, which is also known as initial degradation. Generally, this degradation is about 3% and is caused within the first 1000 hours of usage.
2. Degradation By Components
Next up, we have the potential degradation of the solar panel caused by incompatible components paired with the panel. This degradation can be between 10% to 30% depending upon the severity of the problem. It mainly occurs if the voltage limits of various components installed in a system do not match. This disruption of voltage causes power loss which decreases the efficiency of the system.
3. Natural Degradation
The natural degradation of any component is imminent, especially the solar panels, as they need to be installed on the outside. Due to constant contact with the mixture, the metal part of the panel might start to get corroded, which makes them weaker over time. Otherwise, there is always dust and dirt gathering over the panels, which blocks the light intake of the panels.
4. Poor Durability of The Panels
If the solar panels are not durable, they can easily get damaged. Either while installation or because of a heavy storm, the solar panels can get cracked, which impacts its performance greatly. Due to the cracks, the solar cells do not get enough light which decreases their capacity to generate electricity. If the panel is severely damaged, you will have no option other than to replace the unit entirely.
How to Maintain Them
Now that you know what can damage your solar panels and reduce their efficiency over time, let’s discuss how you can avoid that. Taking proper care of solar panels is very important as you can only get free energy after your initial investment is recovered. For that, you will have to make sure that your solar panels last at least 10 years after installation. Here’s how you can take care of your solar panels.
The only way to find out if your solar panel has a problem is to follow regular inspection protocols and closely monitor the performance of your panel throughout the year. It will also help if you keep track of your solar panel’s performance throughout the year, so you get an idea about when it performs better or worse. After close monitoring, you can easily detect if the performance of your panel is decreasing, and you can take care of the problem before it damages your system.
Regular Cleaning & Maintenance
Cleaning is probably the only important maintenance procedure required for taking care of solar panels. In time, you will find a layer of dust and dirt gathering over solar panels, which reduces their capacity to generate electricity. To avoid that, you should schedule cleaning sessions for your solar panels at least once every 4 to 5 months. Also, keep checking the panels regularly to avoid light blockage caused due to large-sized debris.
Consider Professional Installation & Maintenance
As solar-powered electrical systems are so popular right now, you can easily find a local solar installation service that will do all of these things for you. Instead of installing the system by yourself and taking care of it, you can partner with a solar installer service and let them be in charge of cleaning and maintenance of your devices. You can also contact these services if you face a problem with your solar panels, and they will resolve the problem for you.
Take Experts Opinion Before Installing
Even if you are not partnering with a solar grid system, you can always consider consulting a solar expert before installing your system. The expert will guide you to the perfect location for the installation of the panels so that you can get the best performance and will not have to worry about the shortened lifespan of the solar panels. You can also call an expert at regular intervals to check your system to ensure everything is in place and performing as expected.
How to Extend Their Life
There are some ways you can extend the lifespan of your solar panels. Apart from regular cleaning and maintenance of the panels, you can apply the following solution if you want your solar panels to last longer and deliver great benefits to your investment.
Tips to Make Your Home Solar Panels Last Longer
1. Choose a proper location for installation
The location of the solar panel should be selected in such a way that they are always exposed to ample amounts of sunlight but protected from external damage. Apart from regular exposure to the environment, there are other factors such as shocks and impacts that can easily damage the solar panels.
2. Buy reliable and durable solar panels
If you are deciding to install a system for the long term, it is crucial to choose a reliable and durable brand for solar panels. Not only will you get a highly durable solar panel, but you will also receive a long warranty period from the brand, which will cover performance degradation along with internal damage to the solar panels.
3. Keep an eye on the battery
If you have a battery-based solar system, you need to keep checking the health of your battery along with solar panels. The batteries store the energy produced by solar panels. If your battery is damaged, your solar panel’s efficiency will be automatically decreased as you won’t be able to utilize it to its full potential. Always choose a premium battery for your system and make sure that it has enough capacity to store the electricity generated by your solar panel array.
4. Call a professional for installation
Most solar panels get damaged at the time of installation. The solar panels are heavy units, and they require special care while installing. Thus, it is recommended to get a professional while installing a solar panel so that you won’t have to deal with damaged solar panels. Along with proper installation, a professional will also guide you on the best possible location for the installation of the solar panel.
Now that you know how long a solar panel lasts, it should be clear for you whether you wish to install a solar system in your home or not. As the solar panels available in the market right now are highly durable, you can easily get a decent option in your budget and get it installed in your home. You will definitely recover your investments before the warranty period of the solar panel ends and enjoy free electricity afterward.