One of the most commonly asked questions when buying a solar panel is “how long do solar panels last?” and the answer is sort of complex. A short answer would be 25 years, but that’s in optimal conditions with no debris or dust in the air, and almost no one lives in optimal conditions. We’ve done some research concerning the longevity and lifespan of your average solar panels and determined how long your panels should last.
We’ll cover the basics of solar energy, solar panel longevity and how to maximize the lifetime of your solar panels, which technology works best, and even optimal temperatures. Whether you’re interested in purchasing solar panels, or already own a solar system and want to get the most out of it, you can probably learn something from this article. Below, we’ll answer the question “How long do solar panels last?” and more.
Where you live makes a major difference in the lifetime of your solar panels, and should be taken into consideration first when figuring this out. Generally, you won’t need to worry about heat unless you live somewhere very hot like arizona, or texas. In those places you might see a slightly shorter lifespan for your panels. However, places with a lot of dust or debris in the air will have to perform maintenance fairly often to prevent degradation. Cold temperatures don’t have a major effect on solar panels, and you shouldn’t see any degradation in a cold climate. Just make sure to keep snow off of them for extended periods or they won’t work at all! Overall, your climate won’t impact your solar panels lifespan as much as the weather itself or your hazards on your property.
- Warm climates are slightly less efficient unless its extremely warm
- Colder climates have almost no effect besides snow on the panels
Average Lifespan of a Solar Panel
We’ve covered temperature and climate, and some of the more basic things that might affect the lifespan of your solar panel, but to answer the question – “How long do solar panels last?” Let’s imagine we’re living in an ideal climate.
While there are different types of solar panel, you can expect your average residential solar panel to last for a whopping 25 years! That’s even longer than your typical home wind turbine. Even better, this is just the optimal charge rate. Considering most solar panels see a 0.5% degradation rate per year, after 25 years it will still be working at 88% efficiency! Some products claim to last even longer, up to 30 years in some cases. This doesn’t mean your solar panel will always last that long, as you’re still required to do your own maintenance and ensure the safety of the solar panel itself. Below, we’ll cover some of the potential hazards your solar panels may face and how to avoid them.
- You’ll see a 0.5% solar panel degradation rate per year on average
- After 25 years your solar panel will still work at around 88%
- Keep in mind, this is in an ideal situation
Hazards and Considerations
Now you know how long solar panels last, and where they operate their best, but there are still a few more things you may not have considered. Solar panels are made of metal, with glass panels. These panels are pretty durable, but aren’t indestructible, so you’ll need to ensure nothing damages them. Some severe weather can damage your solar panels, such as very extreme hail or intense lightning storms, so keep that in mind if you’re considering making the switch.
Another thing to consider when answering – how long do solar panels last? – is debris or yard waste. You have to keep the panels clear of anything like pine needles, leaves, dirt, snow and grass. Also ensure no tree branches or other pieces of large debris are positioned directly over the panels as if it falls and hits the panels these can easily be damaged. Taking all of these precautions will make sure your new solar panels last their longest and work their best.
- Keep dust, dirt, and leaves off your panels. Clean your solar panels regularly.
- Make sure no heavy branches fall on your solar panels
- Very extreme weather can damage your solar panels in rare cases
Some people think many factors positively affect the longevity of your solar panels that actually have very little effect or in some cases can even be detrimental. First we have automatic solar adjusters. These automatically adjust your solar panel as the sun moves across the sky, which some people believe more even distributes heat and increases efficiency but in reality they cost more to operate than any benefits you’ll receive out of solar angle calculation and optimization.
Next, is the idea that wind somehow negatively affects your solar panels output. This simply isn’t true and in fact may help keep the panels cooler which would increase its efficiency and lifespan. This can be encouraged by using a solar panel riser.
And finally, the misconception that solar panels produce heat which damages the panels. Solar panels do not produce heat, and in fact have black panels inside their glass casing that absorbs heat and sunlight and dissipates it. The glass itself may reflect some sunlight which may feel warm but the product itself is producing no heat.
Even if the initial investment is fairly expensive, you can be sure your new panels will last a long time. Solar panel technology has improved a lot over the past few years, and yet it’s cheaper than ever to get a solar system set up on your home. Considering their long lifespan, money saving potential, and current affordability, now is the best time yet to make the switch to solar. (Looking for more solar panel information? Check out our favorite solar panel kits!)