How long do solar panels last? This is one of the most frequently asked questions I hear from people who consider installing solar panels. However, it’s difficult to assess the affordability of solar panels without knowing how long they’re going to create enough energy in your house.
Apart from offsetting your use of electricity, this is another reason why it’s important to know how long these panels last, the projections, and their degradation rate.
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Number of Years
In the solar panel industry, solar panels are expected to last for an average of 25 to 30 years. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that they will stop making energy after this time period. These numbers only mean that the amount of energy produced will decrease based on the manufacturer’s estimation.
The panels may work for more decades, but external factors such as debris, wind, bad weather conditions, and poor installation can cause physical damage to them. Since solar panels don’t have movable parts, they’re unlikely to be damaged inside.
Degradation Rate of Solar Panels
According to a study conducted by the NREL or National Renewable Energy Laboratory in 2012, the output of solar panels decreases by 0.8% on average every year. Solar panel degradation rate is the term used for these panels’ declining rates. Keep in mind that not all solar panels have the same degradation rate.
The rate depends on the brand you plan to purchase. If you opt for the premium kind, you can purchase solar panels from SunPower. Their solar panels only have a 0.3 degradation rate.
In recent years, the degradation rates of these panels continuously improve. It can be attributed to the development of solar panel technology. You won’t likely find solar panels with more than 1% degradation rate.
Many of the modern solar panels have an average of 0.5 annual degradation rate due to recent improvements in technology. Therefore, a lot has changed positively for solar panels since the 2012 study.
Can you compute the degradation rate? Yes, you can compute it yourself. For a 0.8% degradation rate, this means that when your solar panels reach the 2nd year, it will have an electricity output of 99.2%. After 25, years, it will be 82.5%.
For the projected output, you can determine it by multiplying the degradation rate with the number of years you have in mind. Then, you just subtract the sum from 100.
The various warranties that come with solar panels can give you an idea of how long you can expect your panels to last. Most companies offer a performance warranty and an equipment warranty. The former is a guarantee that the panels can create the specified amount of energy while the latter is a guarantee for any production defects.
The performance warranty given is typically 25 years, so you can get an idea of how much electricity your panels can generate in the long run.
Carbon Footprint of Solar Panels
EPBT or energy payback time means the time it took for solar panels to generate clean electricity to compensate for the energy used to generate it. However, there’s no need to worry because the lifespan of solar panels is longer than EPBT.
In 2010, Brookhaven National Laboratory learned that a solar panel’s EPBT is only 6 months. With the recent developments, I believe this number has become smaller.
Making Solar Panels Last Longer
As mentioned, solar panels can last long due to their sturdiness. Nevertheless, there are some things you can do to make them last longer. One is to find a trustworthy installer that has good customer service.
Second, check the warranty. I’ve seen warranties that offer an equipment warranty of 10 to 12 years for environmental or physical defects. This deal is good enough since solar panels do last a long time.
Your takeaway is that there’s a low probability that you will need to buy a replacement for your solar panel before the warranty ends. Solar panels like the ones I mentioned from SunPower will last you for many years.
You can compute the degradation rate if you want the exact figure. If you’re not happy with it, you can always add upgrades to your panels. You just have to make sure that the new parts match with your solar panels.