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How long do solar panels last? Solar panel lifespan explained

Solar Panel Lifespan

Do you know how long will your solar panels last? The average lifespan of solar panels is about 25 to 30 years. This doesn’t mean that solar panels stop producing electricity after this period – it just means that energy production declines by a significant amount.

Australia is one of the world’s leaders in rooftop solar panel installation. Millions of solar panels are installed on Australian roofs in recent years. The reasons for the adoption of rooftop solar are financial incentives offered by the government and favourable regulatory regimes. These give self-interest for people to install panels on rooftops to save money on electricity.

With advancements in technology, many newer panels are developed that just have a 0.5 percent yearly decline in energy output. Though this rate of decline depends on several factors, no manufacturer can promise panel performance that lasts longer than estimated.   

 This article gives answers to the questions of how long do solar panels last, early issues to notice, the rate of deterioration of solar panels, and when you should replace them.

Factors influencing the lifespan of solar panels

As many probably know, even the highest quality panels installed on your rooftops will eventually degrade overtime due to a range of factors, such as:

  • Quality – Solar panels must be extremely durable. Therefore, use of high-quality materials to manufacture solar panels is paramount for superior performance. Poor quality components will suffer from construction and performance issues utilized to save a few bucks. Referring to the ‘tier system’ can help to find reputed manufacturers in Australia.
  • Climate – As solar panels don’t have moving parts, they rarely break from within. But, they are usually damaged due to extreme weather conditions like heavy rain, snow and hail, cold temperature.
  • Installation – It is crucial to ensure that your panels and racking system are mounted securely on your roof. Raking is one of the important parts of the solar system. It should protect from wind load, snow load and should not have any leakage while raining. 
  • Maintenance – How long do solar panels last depends on the maintenance of panels. So, ensure that panels aren’t dirty or filled with debris. Panels degrade quickly if the maintenance is poor and bad.

What is the rate of deterioration of solar panels?

The lower the degradation rate, the better the panel. When a solar panel has a lower degradation rate, it will produce more energy over its lifetime. Higher-quality panels have a slower degradation rate than lower-quality panels. However, degradation rates differ from one brand to another. See the comparison table below to understand the degradation rate of solar panels. 

Panel typeDegradation rateReduction over 25 yearsAmount of original output after 25 years
Tier 10.30%6.96%93.04%
Tier 20.50%11.33%88.67%
Tier 30.80%17.53%82.47%

Tier 1 solar panels manufacturers offer less degradation of 0.30% per year and for over 25 years, panels will operate at 93.04% of their original capacity. The worst degradation rate is from Tier 3 companies with 0.80% a year and operating at 82.47% of their original capacity.

What other solar system components might need replacing?

Despite the average lifespan of residential solar panels being 25 years, individual parts have a higher chance of breaking than panels themselves. Thus, upgrade them for better results.

Replacing the racking

Racks are structures where mounting poles are secured into the ground and tightened with concrete. The racking system is constantly vulnerable to harsh climatic conditions like sun, rain, snow, and hail. Therefore, upgrading is a good idea to keep your panels intact.

Replacing the inverter

Inverters need replacement every 10-15 years. If an inverter fails within the warranty period, the manufacturer would replace it. Otherwise, you must pay for a replacement. If you’re purchasing a new inverter, find a new one that meets your requirements. 

Replacing your solar battery

To maintain peak performance, we prefer to replace the solar battery after 10 years. If you’re purchasing a new battery, check with your battery manufacturer for their specific warranty. 

Can you make your solar panels last longer?

Solar panel lifespan is determined by both performance and equipment warranty, which will be 25 years. For the panels to perform efficiently during or after this period, you should follow the tips mentioned below –

  •  Keep panels clean – How often should you clean solar panels? Well, it depends on the area you live in. If you plan to clean the glass panels, use a non-abrasive soap or cleaning sponge so that you won’t leave any scratches on it. Keep an eye on your panels to ensure that they don’t have a dusty film.
  •  Keep them out of the shade – Let there be no new shade issues that weren’t there when the system was installed. Do trim the tree but do not cut down a tree. If one-fourth of the panel is on the shade you’re losing more than half of the output from the panel.
  •  Monitor the panels – A regular examination can reveal issues on your panels or racking, exposed wires, and other areas of concern. A professional technician can check on your panels for functioning and warranty on individual hardware parts.
  •  Keep a record of your day-to-day panels’ performance – If you want to monitor the performance of your panels precisely, make a note of energy produced by your system for the day. This process might seem stressful. Monitoring systems are available to display readings of your panel, download data, and save. This data will be useful when your panels aren’t working properly.

 Following these steps will reduce any strain on the solar panels and that your panels last as many years as possible.

Conclusion

As stated, the average lifespan of solar panels is between 25 to 30 years, you must maintain panels in good condition to help them perform efficiently. Working with a reputable installer will go a long way in ensuring that your residential solar panels are high-quality and are covered under a warranty. Going solar is an investment to save the earth and your monthly electricity bills.

Read:-

How to choose the best solar panels Australia

Which direction is suited for residential solar panel

9 mistakes to avoid while purchasing a solar system