Solar panels can be an excellent investment for both homeowners and the owners of commercial buildings. They can help to reduce or even eliminate your energy bills. If you have enough solar panels, you may be able to earn a profit by selling excess energy back to power companies. However, no solar panel can last forever, no matter who high-quality it is.
What Is the Life Expectancy of Solar Panels?
Typically, solar panels are expected to last between 25 and 30 years. This means that some of the earliest solar panels are now reaching the end of their lifespans and will need to be replaced sometime in the near future. This expected life span may change over time, however, as solar panel technology improves. Some newer, higher-quality solar panel systems may last for up to 50 years and that may improve even more with time and improved technology.
How Do You Know When Solar Panels Need to Be Replaced
A good way to tell whether your solar panels are ready to be replaced or not is by looking at their output. If they’re just not producing as much energy as they used to, then that’s a sign it’s time to replace them. Solar panels start to lose efficiency over time and if they’re no longer producing enough for you to run your home or building, then it’s time to look at replacing them. Pay attention to how much output you’re getting for the amount of sunshine and
How Much Do Solar Panels Degrade Over Time?
The rate of solar panel degradation is approximately .5% each year. This means that by the end of 30 years, solar panels will have around 15% less output than they did at the beginning of their lifespans.
What Causes Solar Panels to Degrade?
Solar panel degradation is caused by several factors:
- UV ray exposure
- Heavy rain
- Quality of the solar panels
- Assembly of the panels
What Can Affect Solar Panel Lifespan?
While time will definitely degrade solar panels over time, it’s not the only thing that can impact solar panel lifespan. Damage to the solar panels, for example, can cause them to stop working altogether if it’s severe enough. For example, if there’s a hailstorm with large enough hail, hail could cause quite a bit of damage to solar panels. Some of that damage may be reparable, but in some cases, the solar panels would need to be replaced.
It’s also possible for the high-speed winds of a hurricane to do some damage to a solar panel, so after a storm it’s a good idea to have your solar panels professionally inspected for damage.
How Can You Prolong the Lifespan of Your Solar Panels?
The best thing that you can do to prolong the lifespan of your solar panels is to have them regularly inspected and keep them well-maintained. For a homeowner, there isn’t a lot of maintenance that you have to do, but you should clean them once every six months. You should have them professionally inspected and maintained at least once a year unless there’s a major weather event that warrants another maintenance inspection.
What Happens to Old Solar Panels?
When a solar panel reaches the end of its lifespan, it can be recycled. The following parts of the solar panels can actually be extracted from the old solar panel and then reused or repurposed:
- Metal from the frame
- PET plastics
- EVA plastics
Improvements in recycling techniques happen all the time, meaning that recycling solar panels becomes more environmentally friendly over time. Researchers have been looking into better and more environmentally friendly ways to extract any of the recyclable materials from old solar panels.
What Maintenance Do Solar Panels Need?
Other than yearly maintenance, solar panels mostly just need cleaning. This involves cleaning them with a soft brush or sponge and mildly soapy water. Just be careful not to use anything that could scratch your solar panels. You may also want to clear any leaves or debris off of the solar panels before you start to clean them. Solar panel cleaning can be done by the homeowner, although repairs and maintenance are usually best left to the professionals. Solar panels should be cleaned every six months to a year but may need more frequent cleanings if weather conditions or nearby trees deposit debris on them.