There’s no doubt that solar panels are designed to provide a wide range of benefits, from lower energy bills to a higher home value. One of their greatest advantages is their lifespan, with many systems averaging 20 to 30 years of useful life. In fact, the first modern solar panel on the planet still operates at over 60 years old! But how long will yours truly last? And how do you know when to replace it? Here’s a closer look at how to tell when your solar panel needs replacement.
Materials and Year of Construction
Also called photovoltaic (PV) modules, solar panels have evolved over the last two decades and offer more longevity than ever before. While a common rule of thumb is that solar panels age with a degradation rate of roughly 1% per year, analysis by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that this deterioration depends on when the solar panel was built, as well as the materials used to construct it.
For instance, the most widely used type of residential and commercial solar panel is made from monocrystalline silicon, a material used as a base for components and circuits in modern technology. It features a slower degradation rate than the industry’s rule of thumb indicates, degrading at less than 0.5% if built before 2000 and 0.4% if built after 2000.
But that’s just one material used to create solar panels, and the lifespan will vary depending on the type, from polycrystalline to thin film. When you’re ready to explore these options, Vision Solar will explain which solar panels have the greatest lifespan for your particular location, home size, and energy requirements.
Other Factors to Consider
A variety of factors beyond manufacturing practices can cause your solar panels to need replacement sooner rather than later. For instance, some solar panels struggle in harsh climates, such as extreme cold, high winds, heavy snow, and desert conditions. But there are a host of other issues that could lead to a shorter lifespan for your solar panels, including:
- Corrosion and degradation of solar panel wiring
- Physical deterioration from debris, tree branches, hail, birds, and other animals or falling objects
- Extreme fluctuations in temperature, which can cause cracks in the material
- Dust, dirt, fur, and other particles that block light from reaching the panels
- Failure of the inverter, battery system, or other components
It’s also important to keep in mind that as your system ages, it will eventually produce less output. Even if you’ve never had any issues with your solar panels, PV silicon material changes over time, decreasing efficiency when the panel is converting sunlight into electricity. Accordingly, once solar panels reach 20 years of age, they should be monitored for efficiency and replaced as needed.
Experience Our Vision
If you have further questions about how long solar panel systems will last before replacement, contact Vision Solar today. We’ll walk you through all available options, provide expert installation, and offer ongoing support throughout the life of your system. Ready to get started? Request a free quote now.