Solar panels are designed to be extremely rugged, and they can easily tolerate whatever Mother Nature decides to throw at them.
However, photovoltaic modules aren’t immune to environmental exposure. Over the course of decades, they lose some efficiency.
How long can you expect solar panels to continue to function effectively? And will you ever need to replace them?
Nearly all well-established photovoltaic manufacturers provide 25-year warranties for their PV panels.
The warranty guarantees that your photovoltaic modules will maintain an energy output rating of at least 80 percent for 25 years.
If you have a string inverter, you can monitor your electricity production online or right on the LCD screen. For PV systems with micro-inverters, the energy output can be viewed on any internet-capable device.
If you ever find that one of your solar panels isn’t as efficient as it should be, the photovoltaic manufacturer will replace the underperforming panel during the warranty period.
Photovoltaic panels aren’t like Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage. They won’t suddenly stop producing free energy once the clock hits midnight on their 25th birthday. In fact, the research demonstrates that PV panels keep going strong long after their “best-by date.”
In 2012, a National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) research team analyzed solar panel efficiency and energy output over the life span of nearly 2,000 photovoltaic installations.
The study found that traditional silicon-based solar modules see an average reduction of efficiency of just 0.7 percent per year. That means after 25 years have passed, most photovoltaic panels will still operate at about 82.5 percent efficiency.
However, you might not even see that much degradation. A recent test of PV modules installed back in 1992 revealed only an 8.3 percent energy loss. After 20 years, the panels were functioning at 91.7 percent of their original maximum output.
Although energy scientists haven’t been able to conduct many long-term solar panel studies yet, the data we have is very encouraging. For example, some panels have continued to outperform their factory ratings beyond age 30. And the world’s first modern solar panel continues to work after 60 years!
Remember too that these are average estimates of solar panel life span. Solar customers in the Intermountain West experience less climate-related degradation compared to those in regions where humidity and salty air promote corrosion.
Solar panels, just like other household electronics or appliances, will function more effectively for longer if you take proper care of them. Fortunately, maintaining your photovoltaic modules is easy.
You’ll need to check them for debris buildup once in a while, and you may need to trim back trees and vegetation if any plants are shading the modules.
An occasional inspection of your PV system is also a wise idea. If you notice any damage or deterioration of the panels or wiring components, have them repaired promptly. Failing to handle repairs can result in quicker degradation and reduced solar energy output.
The professional team at Intermountain Wind & Solar is committed to providing superior-quality photovoltaic power systems for customers in Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming and Nevada. To learn more about how solar panel systems can benefit you, contact us today to schedule a consultation.
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