How Long Do Solar Panels Last? The Ultimate Guide | Installing solar panels on your home may be one of the best investments you can make. Not only are making your home more eco-friendly, prioritizing the longevity of our environment.
But you are also saving money over the course of many years, not having to rely so much on utility companies. But it can be an expensive investment.
The upfront cost of solar panels isn’t super cheap. Many would-be solar-panel-owners wonder what the expected solar panel lifespan is, and if the upfront cost will be worth it.
So how long do solar panels last? That’s exactly what we cover below.
If you’re curious about the longevity of this investment, keep reading to see if solar power is right for you.
Types of Solar Panels
There are a few different types of solar panels you need to be aware of in order to understand the lifespan you can expect. Some are designed to last much longer than others.
Monocrystalline silicon panels are generally the most efficient type of panels, as well as the most expensive. They also tend to look the best.
Polycrystalline silicon panels have a lower efficiency rating, but also a lower cost. They may not be as aesthetically pleasing on your home, but they are great for a budget-friendly option.
Thin-film solar panels are quite a different breed of panels. They offer the lowest efficiency rating. But, these panels are lightweight and usually portable. That makes these panels ideal for mobile solutions, such as vans, RVs, boats, and emergency panels.
How Long Do Solar Panels Last?
So how long do solar panels for homes last? Generally speaking, you can expect the lifespan of solar panels to be about 25 to 30 years.
But what does that mean, exactly? Do solar panels need to be completely replaced? Do they just stop working one day?
Unless damaged or destroyed, solar panels don’t stop working after they reach their maximum lifespan. Instead, they just become less efficient over time. They aren’t like a roof, that will need to be scrapped and replaced after its useful life.
For example, say your panels were 100% efficient when they were first installed. Over the course of 20 or 30 years, they might drop down to 80% or 90% efficiency.
So solar panels never go bad or become useless. They just produce less energy. But they will always continue to produce a significant amount of energy. They won’t stop producing a return on your investment.
Degradation Rate by Panel Type
Different panels have different degradation rates; how much efficiency is lost each year. The median panel degradation rate is 0.05%.
The highest quality panels will have a degradation rate of around 0.30% or so. After 25 years, you’ll only lose 6.96% of your efficiency. This means your panels are still 93.04% efficient.
Middle-tier panel options will have degradation rates around 0.50% or so. After 25 years, your panels will still be working at 88.67% efficiency.
Lower quality or budget-friendly panels will degrade about 0.80% annually. After 25 years, your panels will provide 82.47% of their original output.
Factors That Affect Efficiency and Longevity
Solar panels are designed to be rugged and durable. After all, they are installed to the most vulnerable part of your home; the roof. They are intended to withstand the elements for many decades.
Yet degradation still happens, as with anything such as a car, or a home. Wonder what causes solar panels to age or become less efficient? There are a number of natural factors to consider.
Animals that visit your roof often, such as squirrels or birds, could potentially cause damage. Critters guards can be installed to prevent this.
Make sure there aren’t trees looming over your panels. The shade can decrease efficiency, and the risk of falling branches could cause damage.
Extreme heat, constant ice and snow, and strong winds pose a threat to slowly degrade your panels but are unlikely to stop them from working entirely.
Solar Panel Care and Maintenance
Working with a solar panel installer is your best choice when switching to solar power. Installers, and manufacturers, often offer robust warranties ensuring peace of mind for up to 25 years.
Your local installer may have an annual cleaning and maintenance program that makes it easy to keep your panels in top shape. While regular maintenance isn’t required, having a professional on your roof one or two times a year to check things out and prevent large issues is important.
Should You Get Solar Panels?
There are tons of benefits of solar panels. For starters, home solar panels support our planet.
Our environment is at risk with the constant use of fossil fuels. It’s clear that our society needs to be powered more and more by renewable energy if we want our grandchildren to inherit a planet worth living on.
If you can afford solar energy, which most households in America can these days, solar power is one of the most responsible, environmentally-friendly decisions you can make.
On top of that, there are many incentives for installing solar panels at your home. Currently, a federal tax credit is available offering 26% back on your total solar panel installation cost. If your installation costs $14,000, for example, you’d get a $3,640 tax credit.
Certain states and cities may offer additional tax and energy incentives as well.
On top of that, the expected lifespan of solar panels far outlasts the total time it takes for solar panels to pay back the investment. As long as you plan to live in the same home for the next few decades, you’ll live to enjoy the return on your investment.
Even if you decide to move, a solar panel can increase the value of your home. There’s no reason not to install solar panels.
Solar Power Is the Future
Solar power continues to grow in popularity across the country and the globe. Multiple nations surpass the United States in the amount of solar energy it uses.
So how long do solar panels last? Most of the time, many, many decades.
As technology advances, solar power will continue to decrease in price, becoming more accessible to millions of households across the planet. However, if you can afford to make the jump sooner rather than later, you can enjoy some of the limited-time tax credits and incentives available.
Looking for other home advice? Be sure to check out our blog today.