How Long Do Solar Panels Last? A Simple Guide

What happens when you ask someone with home solar panels why they decided to take the plunge? You’ll probably get two big answers.

The first answer is the environment. Solar panels quickly pay off the “carbon debt” incurred during manufacturing. They offer clean, climate-friendly energy for years afterward.

The second is saving money. Buying solar panels can be a big upfront cost. But they eventually pay for themselves in energy bill savings.

If you’re considering solar panels for either reason, you’re probably very concerned with one question. Just how long do solar panels last?

Degradation Rates Explained

Solar panels are designed to be extremely durable. With proper installation and maintenance, the panels themselves can last for decades.

When people worry about solar panel lifespan, they’re often more worried about the panel’s degradation rate. As the panel gets older, it starts transforming sunlight into electricity less effectively.

The good news is that degradation rates for most residential solar panels are very low.

Most performance warranties guarantee that a panel will produce at least 80% of its initial electricity output within its first 25 years of installation. Studies show that many newer panels outperform this common warranty. A panel produced in 2014, for example, will likely still be producing 92% of its initial output in 2034.

What Effects Degradation Rates?

Degradation rates can vary depending on the panel’s installation conditions. Very high heat/sunlight exposure, snow loads, and heavy winds can all speed up degradation.

Different types of solar panels perform differently depending on their locations. Monocrystalline panels deal with low light better. Polycrystalline panels perform better in high heat.

Thin-film panels are a newer kind of solar technology that degrades much faster, usually between two and five years. These panels are much less common in residential settings.

Equipment and Workmanship Warranties

Your new panels will usually come with two different policies. You’ll see both a performance guarantee and an equipment warranty.

Performance guarantees refer to degradation rates. Equipment warranties protect you from manufacturing flaws in the panels. If your panels fail due to a manufacturer’s error, they’ll cover repairs or replacement.

Your equipment warranty may also protect you from environmental factors such as wind damage. Equipment warranties generally last 10-12 years. However, a few manufacturers offer terms as long as 25 years.

Many solar installers will offer their own workmanship warranties. These warranties cover repairs and replacements that stem from any solar panel installation issues. Other warranty policies can cover inverters, racking systems, and even your roof.

Maximizing Your Solar Panels’ Lifespans

Solar panels are low-maintenance, but not no-maintenance. With some basic attention and care, you can maximize their performance and their lifespans.

Keep your panels clean and protect them from debris. Depending on where you live, that might mean cutting back dead tree branches or checking the roof for bird nests.

Many solar panel installation companies will perform routine inspections. These trained experts can detect and fix problems early before they snowball into bigger issues.

How Long Do Solar Panels Last: Learn More Today

Installing solar panels is almost always a good move, but it’s still a big decision. Take the time to do your research. Find experts to answer your questions truthfully, whether it’s how long do solar panels last or something else.

Interested in learning more about solar panel installation? Read about solar energy in our archives.


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