If we were to compile a list of the top questions that we hear from homeowners during consultations, “how often do solar panels last?” will definitely make the top. It’s a perfectly valid question: solar panels are, after all, an investment. In today’s post, the solar and HVAC contractors at GO Green Air share insight on solar panel life span, and how long before they need to be replaced.
Solar Panel Life Span
Most literature discussing solar panels mention a 35 to 40-year average life span, however, the actual life span will depend on many variables. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), solar panels manufactured before 2000 have a relatively higher degradation rate—that is, the rate of decrease in performance—compared to newer ones. The term “degradation” sounds like the solar panels are in a constant state of decay, but it is no different than a smartphone or a laptop losing its battery’s efficiency when you use it over the years.
Today’s solar panels are far more efficient, with only up to 0.8% solar degradation rate in two years. This means if you have your solar installation done this year, it will be at 99.2% efficiency after the first 2 years of use. At that rate, you can use it for 25 years and its peak efficiency will be at 87.5%, a very good number.
Factors That Have an Effect on Solar Panel Degradation
Degradation is inherent on all types of solar panels. There are, however, certain factors that may increase degradation, and therefore may shorten its life span:
Seasonal extremes — Solar panels suffer a higher degradation rate in the middle of winter. Regularly removing the snow from the roof can help slow down degradation during the winter season. Some components of solar panels also tend to degrade faster from exposure to UV rays.
Lack of care and maintenance — While solar panels are relatively low maintenance, they are exposed to outdoor conditions, and therefore need to be cleaned every once in a while.