When choosing off-grid solar energy to power your home or business, cost is one of the most important considerations.
One factor that affects the overall cost of a grid-tied or off-grid solar energy system is the durability and anticipated life of the system. After all, the longer your photovoltaic system lasts, the greater the return on your investment.
An off-grid system carries a higher initial equipment and installation cost, due to the battery backup systems and other components necessary to store your power.
Life Expectancy of Solar Systems
Most manufacturers offer a standard 25-year warranty on their solar panels, guaranteeing that their energy output will remain at 80 percent of capacity (or greater) for 25 years.
But what happens after the warranty expires?
Your panels will still produce energy ― they aren’t going to shut off on their 25th birthday ― but they may generate less over time. How much less? No one really knows for sure, as the majority of photovoltaic systems are less than 10 years old.
Experts believe that, with the most basic care, your system could continue to operate many years or even decades beyond the warranty date.
It isn’t all about the solar panels, however. You must also consider the life span of the other system components as well.
Most inverters carry a 5- to 10-year warranty, as do battery storage banks. Both of these components are essential to operate an off-grid solar energy system.
Degradation of Solar Panels
Photovoltaic panels are not designed to last forever.
Over time, as they are continually exposed to the elements, they degrade and begin to lose some efficiency. This is simply unavoidable, both because of the limitations of technology and because it really isn’t possible to completely protect your panels from the environment.
The rate at which your panels degrade depends upon what kind they are.
According to research by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, traditional silicon-based panels degrade, on average, at a rate of 0.07 percent each year. Less durable thin-film panels have an average degradation rate of more than 1.5 percent per year, which is why these products are rarely used in today’s PV systems.
Increasing the Life Span of Your Photovoltaic System
You can potentially extend the life of your photovoltaic system if you take care of it properly.
Avoiding physical damage is key, so keep nearby trees trimmed. It is also important to periodically clean your panels by removing dirt and debris, as this keeps your system running most efficiently.
Finally, make sure to have your system inspected regularly by a qualified solar contractor, so that any necessary maintenance can be completed before it affects the system’s performance.
If you have questions about photovoltaic energy, contact us today at Intermountain Wind & Solar. Serving residential and commercial customers in Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming, our high-quality panels and other components are the best available in the industry today.
Let us help you compare the cost of grid-tied and off-grid solar to determine what better fits your needs.