Solar panels are amazing pieces of technology, converting sunlight into electricity that powers our homes. It lowers carbon emissions and helps people lower their energy bills since they don’t need energy from the grid. But like all technology, solar panels don’t last forever and they do deteriorate over time.
You can expect solar panels to last around 10-25 years, based on the product warranty from their manufacturer. While solar panels can continue working after their warranty expires, they don’t generate as much electricity as before. Look for brands that have a high product warranty for their panels, which is how long they expect the panel to last.
Here’s our solar panel tier list, and reasons why there are only a certain number of panels that we recommend.
Basic cleaning and maintenance can keep your solar panels working until the end of their expected lifespan. If there are any significant faults, contact your solar installer to fix them quickly. As long as your solar panels don’t encounter significant problems, they should remain operational for many years.
What is the average lifespan of a solar panel?
The average lifespan of a solar panel is around 10-25 years. Solar panel manufacturers are aware of their panel’s lifespan, providing equally long product and performance warranties. Your solar system will likely pay itself off through feed-in tariffs and energy savings long before the panels need replacing.
Weather conditions, maintenance, and installation quality can affect a solar panel’s lifespan. Cleaning any dirt or other particles that accumulate on your panels prevents damage to the technology inside the panel. If something is wrong with your panels that you can’t easily fix, contact your installers to solve the problem.
However, this is troublesome, and that’s why we have a solar panel tier list.
There are some panel brands out there that we would not go anywhere near because they’ve had some post-installation warranty issues.
How do you know a solar panel needs replacing?
The obvious sign that a solar panel needs replacing is when it stops working. Check your monitoring app to see if a solar panel is still converting sunlight into energy. If it is alerting you to a panel not working, check on the panel. If you see severe external damage such as cracked glass, it’s time for a replacement.
Check if your solar panels are near the end of their warranty period. If their efficiency is starting to noticeably drop, that is a sign the solar panel is at the end of its life. You should consider ordering more solar panels as your available energy will drop. This is especially true if your energy consumption has grown, as you can’t afford to have suboptimal panels.
Look for a panel’s performance warranty, which talks about a panel’s performance degradation overtime. For example, JA Solar’s JAM72D42 LB panel has a 30 year performance warranty. The amount of energy it will generate will drop by 1% in the first year and 0.4% for 30 years after that. When the panel’s energy generation has dropped by 13%, you should consider replacing it. If the panel’s performance drops past 13% too early, you should get it checked or replaced quickly.
Don’t confuse the presence of debris such as fallen leaves as a sign that a panel needs replacing. Some basic maintenance such as clearing the surface of a solar panel can bring it back to regular performance. You are looking for severe damage that requires professional care, such as discoloured surfaces.
By the time that you feel like the solar panel needs replacing, it might be a good opportunity to replace the whole system, including inverters. Solar panel and inverter technology are progressing so quickly that efficiency and regulations would have changed drastically since you previously installed the system.
What happens after a solar panel runs for 25 years?
Like all technology, solar panels will slowly degrade over time. Your solar panel will not work as well as when you first purchased it. While technology is improving and solar panels last longer, there will be drops in performance as the years go by. After 25 years, your solar panel won’t be capturing as much sunlight or converting much of it into power.
The performance drop is due to internal wear and tear which happens as sunlight is converted into energy. While basic maintenance can prevent severe internal damage, you can’t stop the internal degradation as it happens. You will notice your solar panels working at around 75-85% efficiency after 25 years.
This doesn’t mean that your solar panels won’t work anymore or that they shut down. But your monitoring apps will show that your solar panel’s performance has dropped year after year. It won’t be a significant drop in the first few years, but you will see a difference when the warranty expiration approaches.
How do you get a solar panel with a long life?
Start by getting quotes from local solar installers in your area. Each installer will use different brands of solar panels, and these brands post their panel information online. The warranties for the panels should be the same regardless of the model, and it should tell you how long they last. Not every brand has the same warranty length, and sometimes the product and performance warranty will differ.
Product warranty will tell you how long a company expects their solar panel to last before it should be replaced. Performance warranty is the company’s guarantee of the solar panel’s ability to convert sunlight into electricity. While it will gradually go down, the company guarantees it will only drop by a certain amount specified in the warranty.
Ask your installer about the solar panels they recommend, along with the warranty on those panels. Shop around with different installers and compare warranties to find the panels that have a long lifespan. Keep in mind that long warranties don’t always mean the panel is better for your property. Find out why installers might recommend a panel with a shorter warranty instead of a longer one.
What can you do to extend the lifespan of solar panels?
To ensure that your solar panels last as long as possible, perform basic maintenance on them. This means cleaning any debris that covers the panels and ensuring there are no cracks. If you see any serious damage such as discolouration on the panel, contact your installer. They can perform more advanced maintenance and get it working properly again.
Do your best to protect solar panels from any potential damage. For example, if there are nearby branches that could fall onto the panels, remove them. This applies to other sources of shade that can potentially drop items onto your panels, such as leaves. If severe winds are coming in, ensure that your solar panels are properly secured to prevent them from flying off.
Always check your solar app to see if it detects any problems with the panels. Fixing a problem quickly will help a solar panel last longer, rather than letting it continue. Contact your installer for any issue that you can’t easily fix, like external damage or a failing part. Proper repairs will help your solar panel last longer than trying to fix it yourself.
What can your installer do to extend the lifespan of solar panels?
Sometimes a solar panel’s components will run into issues or require advanced repairs. Your solar installer has the training to fix those issues properly. If you find your solar panels aren’t working and there isn’t an obvious solution, contact your solar installer. They will look at the panels and diagnose the fault, repairing the panel as necessary.
Damaged panels won’t last as long as regular panels, and fixing them quickly helps them last longer. Always make sure that you know how much energy your panels are generating and whether that is within expectations. That helps your installer figure out where a fault could be and what the repair looks like.
They are also the best people for replacing panels if there is a fault. If it’s within the warranty, the installer orders a replacement which will be installed on your property. Some panels have servicing plans that have installers check on them every few years. This helps ensure that your panels are working properly without constantly intruding into your home.
Solar panels can last a long time as manufacturers extend their product warranty for 10-25 years. You won’t need to think about replacing them for a long time, but they aren’t immune to wear and tear. A solar panel will slowly generate less power for your home and eventually requires a replacement.
Make sure you maintain your solar panels as much as you can. Prevent debris from blocking the panels and ensure they are clean. If you notice a drop in energy generated and nothing looks wrong, contact your solar installer. Have them take a look and get your solar panel fully repaired.
Check what your solar installers can do to care for your panels. Ask why they recommend using certain panels and what the warranties are. This helps you check their expected lifespan and performance, which helps if something looks wrong.
If you have any questions about how long solar panels can last, contact the team at Go Sunny Solar. Our solar panel brands have some of the longest warranties in the market. We will walk you through the process of installing solar panels and help you if problems emerge.