How Long Do Solar Panels Last?

How Long Do Solar Panels Last?

If, like many people in Australia, you’re considering installing solar panels in your home, you’re probably wondering how long they will last.

It’s a fair question. If you’re paying for solar panels, installation, and maintenance, you’ll want to know if they’ll provide energy for long enough to justify the cost and effort. Nobody wants to go through this process only to have their panels stop working after a year or two.

The good news is that solar panels last much longer than that, and there are many things you can do to extend their life and maximise their performance over time. Let’s learn more.

How Long Do Solar Panels Last?

From the moment you install solar panels, they begin to age, and this process of degradation continues gradually until the point your solar panels are no longer useful for generating energy.

That might sound a little bleak, but the good news is this process happens very slowly and takes many years. Research has shown that, on average, solar panel output decreases by 0.8% every year.

This means that even after 25 years or so, your panels will still likely be functioning at around 80% of their original output. At this point, it’s common to replace panels with new and more efficient ones, but you could still generate electricity with the old ones.

There’s more good news, too. Solar panels are improving every year, and their lifespan can vary a lot based on the quality of your panels and where you live. So the 0.8% figure above is just a guideline — your panels could degrade much more slowly than that.

How To Maximise The Lifespan Of Your Solar Panels

Your solar panels will last much longer if you take care of them correctly. To understand how best to do this, we need to look at the factors that cause solar panels to wear down and degrade over time.

What Causes Solar Panels To Degrade?

The main reason solar panels degrade is simple: exposure to the elements. Having anything on the roof of your house for many years is bound to result in some kind of wear and tear. Solar panels are no exception — being exposed to the heat, cold, and wind causes damage over time. Here are some examples:

  • Thermal cycling — panels expand in the heat and contract when it gets cold, causing small amounts of damage which compound over time
  • UV damage. Solar panels are designed to be exposed to the sun as much as possible, so it’s not a surprise that the sun’s rays eventually cause some damage to the cells. You can invest in protection to minimise this, but there’s no way to avoid it completely.
  • High humidity over prolonged periods of time can damage the inside of your panels
  • Animals like squirrels and birds can tamper with your solar panels if they’re able to gain access

How To Minimise Damage To Your Solar Panels

Although damage is ultimately unavoidable, there is still a lot you can do to maximise the lifespan of your solar panels and prevent a lot of damage.

  • Get regular inspections by professionals. Typically this will take place once a year and your inspectors will identify any unusual damage and tell you how to avoid any more.
  • Keep your panels clean. Things like debris, fallen leaves, and general build-up of dirt can damage your panels and reduce their efficiency. It’s a good idea to regularly clean your panels to avoid this.
  • Install critter guards to keep small animals from clambering over your panels and causing damage

What Happens To Solar Panels After They Die

You can prolong the life of your solar panels effectively by following the right steps, but you can’t avoid the inevitable. One day your solar panels will no longer be effective, and it’s time to replace them. When this time comes, it’s important to work with a professional who knows what they’re doing, as this task can be dangerous otherwise.

At Snap Solar, we help you install your own solar energy system and give you all the guidance you need to keep your panels in optimal condition for as long as possible. Contact us to find out more and get started.

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