Solar panels are incredibly powerful. Throughout the last two decades, solar power technology has blossomed from just a great idea and concept to an actionable plan that has yielded true results. There are over 250,000 Americans currently working in the solar market, with 40% of all 2019’s new electric capacity coming from solar.
Solar panels are an ever-expanding market and it is only getting bigger now that the cost of solar can compete in the energy market. Now, not only are solar panels ideal for saving the planet, but they are also a cost-effective option.
Yet, turning your home solar-friendly is still no small task. Everything from the position of your home to the number of panels you need to make your home 100% electric can be a task; besides the price. Making your home solar-friendly is a process and an investment. Fortunately, that investment is good for what is generally accepted as a timeframe of 25-30 years.
However, that isn’t the whole story. There are many different factors that can help or hurt the longevity of your solar panels.
What Happens to Solar Panels After 25 Years?
The good news is that solar panels don’t just stop working after 25 years. It isn’t a situation where you have full power one day and the next you can’t turn on a light switch. Rather, solar panels lose their potency over the course of many years.
The flip side of this is that although solar panels are generally accepted as lasting for 25-30 years, the power starts to deplete within the first year of use. Typically, there is a 0.5% to 1% degradation in solar power energy every year, depending on the type of solar panels you use. This means that by the time the 25 years is up, your solar power energy efficiency could have already depleted to 80%. Therefore, every year, you are using more energy to receive the same service.
Why Do Solar Panels Only Last For 25-30 Years?
Twenty-five to thirty years is more of a foreseeable warranty number than an actual lifespan. After all, if your solar power works well for you and your family (even at 80%) then there is no reason to change it.
The reason that there is not a hard number depicting lifespan is simply that no one knows. Solar panels are part of a building industry but it is still in its infancy. There is no history to back up exactly how long solar panels last; which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. At worst, giving solar panels a lifespan of two to three decades is shortchanging it.
There is a possibility that solar panels if maintained properly, can provide cheap and efficient power to your home for decades beyond the warranty expectation. Right now, the world really just needs to wait and see.
What Gives Out on Solar Panels?
The idea of solar panels is simple. Solar panels absorb energy from the sun and turn that energy into power. However, the actual usage of solar panels is a little more complicated. Ultimately, solar panels are just like any other type of equipment. Over time, especially since they are exposed to the elements, solar panels can break down. Through that breakdown, it does make sense that the solar power functionality would be compromised.
Specifically, there are two main functions that give out on solar panels:
- Microwires inside a cell of solar panels break down, causing a short circuit and a hotspot.
- Water breaks through the encapsulation that is meant to protect the active part of the panel.
These two issues can be amplified by a variety of repeated weather conditions. Rain, wind, heat, and snow are the biggest contributors to the annual solar panel efficiency breakdown. Plus, if you live by the water or in an area that does not have a lot of sunshine, your efficiency could be compromised.
How Do You Preserve Solar Panels
Fortunately, solar panels are durable. They are made to withstand a range of different weather conditions (including hail) without sustaining significant damage. Usually, the damage that breaks down solar panels is done over time. Since solar panels generally do not have any moving parts and they are light on maintenance requirements, it makes sense that general wear would be their downfall. Nevertheless, here are a few things that you can do to help preserve your solar panels:
Is 25 to 30 Years Worth the Expense?
Solar panels have a lot of good things going for them. However, despite the cost of solar panels decreasing by 80% since 2008, making your home solar-friendly is still an investment. Therefore, it is important to discuss whether the 25-30 years of power, at approximately 80% efficiency when all is said and done is worth it.
Yes, the longevity of solar panels is worth it for three basic reasons:
To close, there are a few different factors that determine how many solar panels it takes to power a house. While most of these factors stem from your personal lifestyle and the size of your home, the community you live in also affects the ability to have any solar panels installed in a reasonable timeframe.