Going solar is the best way to transition to clean, sustainable energy while also dramatically reducing your monthly utility bills — or even eliminating them entirely! And there’s even more good news. A solar installation has a surprisingly long lifespan. In fact, most will last an average of 25 years before they begin to degrade, and most solar panel manufacturers offer a standard 25-year warranty to protect them for just as long.
However, even though you won’t necessarily need to replace your installation after 25 years, the solar panels will slowly lose some of their ability to absorb sunlight over time. In order to get the most life from your solar panel installation, it’s important to understand solar panel degradation rates, and ways to make sure your solar panels last as long as possible.
WHAT IS A SOLAR PANEL DEGRADATION RATE?
Over the lifetime of a system, solar panels will show a reduced ability to absorb sunlight and convert it into solar energy — although it takes many years for this slow loss of efficiency to occur. It’s caused by factors such as hot weather as well as the natural reduction in chemical potency of the panels, also known as the “degradation rate.”
A solar panel with a lower degradation rate will produce more energy over its lifetime. The lower the degradation rate, the better the solar panel. Degradation rates of solar panels depend on the brand. Of course, higher-quality panels will have a lower degradation rate than lower-quality panels.
According to a National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) study, the average solar panel loses 0.8% of its output each year. However, premium manufacturers like SunPower offer panels with degradation rates as low as 0.3%, which means their panels will last much longer than those from the majority of other manufacturers. This makes it very important to consider degradation rate when you’re doing a solar panel comparison, since more expensive panels will generally be a better deal in the long run.
HOW CAN YOU KEEP YOUR SOLAR PANELS EFFICIENT FOR YEARS TO COME?
Solar panels are extremely durable, lasting an average of nearly three decades. They’re rigorously tested by manufacturers in order to withstand extreme weather, including high winds, heavy snows, and even hail. And because solar panel systems usually lack moving parts, they don’t require routine maintenance. All of these factors contribute to the long lifespan of solar panels.
Still, there are some ways you can ensure that they’re working efficiently for as long as possible:
- Work with a reputable solar company.A trustworthy solar installer will have years of experience, not to mention glowing reviews from previous customers. They’ll also have a track record of impeccable customer service — a must when you’re committing to such an important purchase.
- Have your installer regularly check your panels. We have our cars routinely checked, so why wouldn’t we do the same with our solar installations? It’s recommended to have a cleaning and inspection once a year to ensure that your installation is operating at peak performance. You’ll want to have a professional conduct the inspection rather than doing it yourself, because if you accidentally scratch or damage any of the panels, it could void your warranty.
- Keep your panels clear. During installation, the solar company you’ve chosen to work with will ensure that there are no trees in the way that could drop branches on your panels. Still, you’ll want to make sure that, through the lifetime of your system, your solar panels are clear of any snow, branches, or debris that could interfere with their efficiency.
FIND AN INSTALLER YOU CAN TRUST
Ready to start harnessing the power of the sun for a lifetime of free green energy? When you’re hiring someone to complete such a big project on your home, you want to make sure you’re working with a team that’s got a reliable reputation, and the credentials to match.