This is one tricky question everyone has in their mind that how long solar panels last. Solar technology is rapidly advancing which results in making solar panels more economical and improving their life span. Solar panels come in a variety of shapes, sizes, wattage, and other specifications. Moreover, PV manufacturers using different kinds of silicon cells to make the solar panels. Most prominent of them are Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline solar panels.
Solar panels take almost half of the upfront cost (see free solar panels) of the electric solar system, so they should be robust enough to withstand strong wind speeds and current fluctuations. As solar panels exposed to sunlight which contains many UV rays, cheaper panels can easily and rapidly deteriorate. So for a better life span you should always consider moving with the productive solar panels.
Expected Life of Solar Panels and Degradation Period:
Right now, many PV manufacturers in the United States, Europe, and even in China are coming up with the solar panels with claims of 40 to 50 years of life span. Most of the PV manufacturers even providing 25 years to 30 years of performance warranties to the consumers as well with 10 years to 12 years of workmanship warranties.
These warranties mean that your solar panels will last long up to 3 to 4 decades depending upon the cost you’re paying and the quality of PV manufacturer you’re going with.
You can rule out the degradation of solar panels in terms of calculating their long life. Degradation rates vary from brand to brand and type of solar cells used in solar panels manufacturing. As a rule thumb, 0.8% is the average degradation rate per year of TIERR-1 type of solar panels. The degradation rate may vary with brands as well because some top of line PV manufacturers such as SunPower and Suntech offering solar panel modules with only 0.3% of degradation every year. Which means even after accommodating the 0.3% to 0.8% degradation every year, solar panels will produce 75% to 85% of rated power even after 25 years.
However, the life span of solar panels also depends on others keys factors as well such as the installation and structure type.
There are three qualities of solar panels:
A Grade or TIER 1:
These type of solar panels are highly efficient with nearly zero potentially induced degradation (PID). They are manufactured by Grade-A companies as such as SunPower, Suntech, Jinko, LongLi and Canadian Solar etc. These Grade-A man companies have more than 5 years of experience, and have good research and development. These panels have relatively high prices then B Grade Solar panels.
- Top 2% of the solar manufacturers.
- Vertically integrated (Own supply chains)
- Advance robotic processes
B Grade or TIER 2:
These type of solar panels are less efficient and also have greater potentially induced degradation (PID) then Grade-A solar panels. These are manufactured by Grade B companies that are not even vertically integrated, have less than 5 years of experience and less research and development budget. Such panels have relatively less price than the Grade-A panels.
- Usually producing panels for 2-5 years
- No or little investment in R&D
- Partial robotics and rely on manual work
C Grade or TIER 3:
These panels have very low efficiency. They are manufactured by Grade-C companies that does not have any experience and research and development budget. These panels are very cheap, not recommended to buy.
- Assembling panels for 0 to 2 years.
- No investment.
How to maintain and take care of solar panels so they last long:
For peak performances and longer life of solar panels, clean the dirt and leaves off solar panels. Many top TIER solar panels manufacturers provide users with DIY examination kits and manuals. Solar panels rarely need any troubleshoot if properly installed. So, avoid using low-quality materials for mounting structure and check your solar panels quarterly. By regular examination of the solar panels you can resolve potential problems like loose screws and exposed wires etc.
To be honest solar panels are quite durable and there is no special requirement of any tools to clean your solar panels. A simple bucket of warm water with soap is enough. You can also either use robots to do this job or hire a solar cleaning company for this.
Some people rely on rain for the cleaning of solar panels, please note this is not a good way to clean off your solar panels. As a study found, properly cleaned and professionally maintained solar panels had produced 12% more energy than cleaned by rain or not effectively maintained.
Some people do not have a clear view of the solar panels they have installed at their rooftops. There is a piece of advice for them. Use an app provided by your solar system installer or screen attached to the inverter to monitor the power output from the solar panels. If you observe that even in clear sunlight, solar panels are not generating enough energy as they should do, this is time to clean your solar panels.
So instead of neglecting the small means to enhance the life of your solar panels, service, and clean your solar panels for high performance and long life.