How long do solar panels last, really?
There's no point in denying it, solar panels can be pretty pricey. That's why so many people feel discouraged when trying to make the jump to solar energy! What most people don't understand, though, is that the initial cost is a small price to pay for years and years of service. Don't make that mistake. Learning about the solar panels' lifespan will put the high price in perspective and you'll finally see solar panels for what they truly are - an investment!
So, how much time will you be able to use them? That depends on several factors. Read on to find out which ones!
Rated power and linear loss of performance
Most traditional guarantees issued in the 1990s and 2000s are valid for 15 to 20 years on average and contemplate a loss of performance for the first year of less than 3% of the rated power. After that, the loss is no greater than 0.7% per year -being the average only 0.5%-. So after 25/30 years the solar panels will be producing no less than 80% of the energy than the moment they were installed, which is a very minimal loss. Most of the older models are in working condition after 30 years with the expected performance due to discoloration, adhesion of the glass panels and stiffness of the interconnect ribbons.
Nowadays, there are equipments constructed with more efficient materials and 25 years of guarantee is the standard -you can find even 30 years or more- that will expand their useful lifetime with a performance of 90% after 21 years and 86.85% after 30. Of course, these numbers will stick as long as you get them the proper maintenance.
How to take care of your solar panels
Since solar panels need to absorb energy from the sun, keeping them clean is the key issue. When you see they look like there is a dusty film on them a good wash just with the hose and clean water will do the job. If you live near constructions or in a desertic area with the air full of dust you will need to clean them more often but in regular situations you only need to clean them every other month. You only must avoid natural elements to stick to the glasses.
You can take care of your panels just with the same household cleaning products you use regularly. Additionally, there are kits of detergent and tools created specifically for this purpose. You can use a soft brush or microfiber cloth and a glass wiper! Just be careful to avoid scratches and never ever use an abrasive soap or dish cleaning sponge.
Partially shaded panels can perform below what they are expected. Check during all daylight that no branches or plants project shades over your panels, and trim them if necessary. Also, plants can drip sap or dew during the night, so it is better to keep them far from your solar installation.
And then, pay attention to your performance monitor -that can be set to collect data in regular intervals- that will help you determine whether your system is still working but producing poorly. Contact the seller and make adjustments to protect all the equipment and your investment. A big part of extending the life of your solar panels is to rely on the expertise of the installer.
Things to consider before invest in solar panels
Always hire a licensed and bonded solar installer and ask detailed specifications on the equipment they will sell you. Safety and performance may vary a lot between Chinese and American manufacturers so don’t let yourself to be tricked in buying a cheaper Chinese equipment that you will regret very soon.
Finally, if you have any further question, don't hesitate to ask us any question. We're more than happy to talk to people interested in moving to solar energy and make a change for the better!