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How Long Will My Solar Panels Last?

Jessica PirroJuly 29, 201933770

With solar energy getting more and more popular, homeowners that are considering a solar panel installation often wonder how long solar panels will last. Many homeowners don’t understand how someone could spend so much on solar panels without having any idea how long the solar panels will continue to produce enough solar energy to continue to power your home. The solar electricity that your solar panels produce will be able to offset the electricity that you will need to pull from the grid for a few decades, but it’s very important to understand the industry projections and degradation rates.

How Long Do Solar Panels Last?

In the solar power industry rule of thumb, that the solar panels are going to last around 25-30 years. But, this does not mean that they will stop producing their solar electricity after 25 years - it will just mean that the solar energy production will decline by what solar companies consider to be a significant amount. The solar panels can continue to work for quite a few decades, given that they aren't physically damaged by the wind, debris, or any other external factors. The reason for this is because solar panels don’t have any moving parts, they rarely break from within and if they are damaged it is by outside forces such as a poor racking setup or inclement weather.

Solar Panel Degradation Rate

A study that was done by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that, on average, the output of the solar panels falls by 0.8 percent each year. This rate of decline is called the solar panel degradation rate. Though this rate of decline will all vary depending on which brand of solar panels that you buy, the premium solar companies are offering degradation rates that are as low as 0.3%. The degradation rates of solar panels are constantly improving as solar power technology gets better over the years, and the degradation rates below 1% are common throughout the solar power industry. In the years since this study was done back in 2012, the study was conducted, more and more technologies are being developed and there are a lot of newer solar panels that have just a 0.5 percent yearly decline in solar energy output.

What does exactly does the degradation rate of solar panels mean? An example, a 0.8% degradation rate means that in year two, your panels will operate at 99.2 percent of their original output; by the end of their 25-year “useful lifespan,” they are still going the be operating at 82.5%. The solar panels that are slightly more durable with a degradation rate of 0.5% will very likely produce around 87.5% as much solar electricity as it did when the solar panel installation first happened. To determine the projected output of your solar panels after a certain number of years, you can simply multiply the degradation rate by the number of years you are interested in and subtract that number from 100%.

Solar-powered systems can come with a few different solar-powered systems warranties that will give you sort of a rough estimate of how long the lifespan of the solar panels will be. Solar companies will offer both warranties for solar-powered systems equipment warranties, to certify against manufacturing defects, and a performance warranty, to guarantee that your solar panels are going to produce a certain amount of solar electricity. The performance warranty of solar panels, which typically is going to last 25 years, can give you a better sense of how much solar electricity to expect from your solar-powered systems over time.

Another benefit you don’t need to worry about the carbon footprint of solar panels, either. The 25 to 30-year lifespan of solar panels is significantly longer than its energy payback time. or EPBT. EPBT is the amount of time it takes for a solar panel to produce enough clean solar electricity to “payback” the energy that was used by solar companies to manufacture it in the first place. A 2010 analysis from Brookhaven National Laboratory found that the EBPT of solar panels is around six months - a number that has most definitely fallen in the past six years as the solar companies find more ways to increase the efficiency of solar energy.

Finding Home Solar-Powered Systems are Easier Than Most People Think

Going solar is considered an investment in the earth’s future that will also save you some money by reducing your electricity bills by using solar electricity to power your home. By thoroughly researching solar-powered systems before committing to a solar panel installation you can ensure that the solar panels that you commit will make sure that your solar panels are the most efficient ones on the market. You can go to hahasmart and customize your solar-powered systems using the design DIY tool, you can also see how much you can save while using solar power using the price checker tool.

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