One of the first questions many homeowners have when initially looking into solar power is – how long do solar panels last?
The question of solar panel lifespan is a reasonable one. After all, everything degrades in time and solar panel systems are no exception to this rule. The comforting answer to this question is that every major solar panel manufacturer guarantees that their solar panels will be producing energy at 80 percent efficiency or greater by the 25 year mark. Although warranties guarantee that panels will be producing at 80 percent by year 25 , they will most likely be producing at closer to 85 percent as efficiency degrades about 0.5 percent per year (Panels lose about 3 percent the first year).
Another great thing about solar panel systems is that many homeowners will be able to add panels to their systems as needed. After 20 or 30 years, if their systems are not producing as much energy as required due to efficiency loss, or if general energy usage increases, more panels can be added. This should further minimize concerns about how long a solar panel system lasts.
The life expectancy of solar panels are, in fact, quite a bit longer than 25 years. There are solar cells that are still producing power that are now more than 40 years old. Beside efficiency levels, the panels themselves are very durable. There are no moving parts or anything liable to break with continued use. The one exception here is the inverter – the device that transforms the D.C. energy to A.C. energy. Traditional string inverters need to be replace approximately every 10 years. However, many installers are choosing to use micro-inverters which can carry 25 year warranties and be priced comparably with string inverters.
What about that whole cost thing?
Having to add a panel or two or replace an inverter does not have a significant affect on the total cost of solar. The massive savings over conventional energy will still be there. Since the payback for a solar panel system is now much shorter than 10 years, on average, a small part of the long term savings can be utilized to add an additional panel or two. As solar panel systems last for decades, it will be common place to see them being passed down to the next generation in many households.
While a very high percentage of residential solar installations have occurred in the past ten years, there have been enough prior installations for solar technology to have proven itself. Of course, in the next 15 to 20 years, hundreds of thousands of homeowners will be reaping the long term rewards of going solar.
These solar panel brands all produce exceptional panels with long term warranties to back them up. The long term warranties are simply a testament to how durable and trustworthy the technology is. This should be no surprise as solar engineers have been working on this tech for decades now. It’s easy to imagine how much of the process has been further refined and improved over the years.
Comparing a solar panel system to other things in life that are commonly used makes them look even better. How often do people replace their cars? Refrigerators? Air conditioning units? Hot water heaters?…Etc. Solar panel systems will outlast many of the things we use. Now that’s something that can be called a great investment.