The renewable energy revolution is upon us, and solar panels are an integral part of this. Solar energy allows people to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and contribute to a cleaner environment by using renewable resources instead. Solar energy is a type of clean, non-polluting energy that can be used to generate electricity. It's part of the category of alternative energies and it comes from harnessing solar radiation or heat from the sun. This is basically the main reason why more and more people are interested in resorting to solar project installations.
The most common question people ask after switching to renewable energy services and having their solar system installed is how often solar panels need to be replaced and how long will solar panels last. Solar project installations can be costly , so it's important to know the life expectancy of solar panels. Here is a list of 6 frequently asked questions about solar panels, the different factors that affect the solar panel lifespan- from the quality of materials used in construction, to where you live in terms of climate, and a solar panel repair if it stops working prematurely!
The solar panel is the first and most obvious part of a solar energy system. The standard solar project installation for a residential solar panel consists of an inverter, a battery bank with enough storage capacity for around one day (24 hours), and 30 panels linked to the grid or batteries. Essentially, solar panels are panels designed to absorb the sun’s rays as a source of energy for producing both electricity and heating. Solar panels are made up of photovoltaic cells that take sunlight and convert it to DC energy - direct current.
These cells form into solar panels which can be used in a variety of ways for energy or as building materials. The cells turn the photons coming from the sun's rays into electron flow- and it's the flow of electrons that creates electricity.
There are three types of solar panels: monocrystalline, polycrystalline and amorphous. Monocrystalline has a slight advantage in efficiency over the other two but they all convert sunlight into electricity at an average rate of about 15% to 18%. Polycrystalline panels are less expensive to manufacture and amorphous is the most affordable.
Solar panels are like semiconductors in computers - they convert sunlight into electrons which we then use for heating water, generating electricity, and other tasks. When you install solar panels at home, you make a contribution to the environment by reducing air pollution in your locality. You also contribute towards reducing global warming and help conserve limited natural resources.
Solar panels last for 25-30 years for small residential systems to 40-50+ years for commercial installations that can be as large as 100 kW in capacity. Solar panels are generally guaranteed for 25 years and some warranties can extend up to 40 years. Some warranties extend up to 50 or 60 years, however, it's important to note that this only refers to the functional life expectancy of a solar panel system with proper maintenance. If your home requires substantial repairs during these periods (e.g., new roof, foundation problems), it can significantly impact the lifespan of your panels.
Solar panels are incredibly hardy. In a year, their effectiveness might only decrease by one to two per cent (sometimes even less). This might sound negligible but over time, this loss in effectiveness can add up, especially when there's no proper maintenance. Solar panels are a great investment because they can last for decades. In addition, solar panel technology is constantly improving; making them more efficient and less expensive to manufacture with each passing year. Solar panels last depending on the quality of your maintenance and how well you take care of them over time. If you maintain good upkeep, solar panels will last for up to 30 years.
A typical residential panel system - which has a capacity of around 100W; enough to power about 18 large light bulbs or one hair dryer with ease- would have an average lifespan of 30 years. This is because it usually gets more sun exposure in the Southern Hemisphere where it's often winter.
Commercial installations, on the other hand, have a lifespan of 40-50+ years because they are typically installed outdoors and get more sun exposure than residential systems - which is usually located inside. It’s important to note that these numbers represent an average lifespan for all types of solar panels. The lifespan can be affected by different factors like the type, where it's located and how much sun it gets.
The solar panel's life expectancy is affected by its type, size, and location. For example, monocrystalline has a slight edge in efficiency over polycrystalline and amorphous but they are more expensive to manufacture; however, they usually last longer than their counterparts.
Location also matters as panels in a humid climate may need to be replaced more often than those in an arid region. If you live in a humid climate, you may need to replace your solar panels more often. It would also be dependent on how it was manufactured, its quality, the amount of sunlight it receives (solar exposure), maintenance level and even geographic location (temperature fluctuations).
Your system maintenance is also a factor - do you clean it regularly? If not, this will impact its life expectancy and performance. The size of the installation matters too as larger installations are more expensive in terms of initial cost but they have longer warranties. Finally, solar panel life expectancy also depends on how often you use them - if your system is only working part-time, then you'll get more life out of it than someone who's using their system for 100% of its energy needs.
What are Solar Batteries?
The longevity of a solar panel system hinges on the solar battery. Solar batteries are an integral part of the home solar system as they store energy that is generated during sun hours and then release it later in the day or night. They can also be used to charge electric vehicles, storing electricity from daytime and nighttime.
The solar battery life expectancy depends on its quality and type. Generally, lead-acid batteries last a maximum of ten years but Lithium Iron Phosphate can have lifespans in excess of 20 years (depending on how they are used). Solar power systems come in two different chemistries, lead-acid and lithium iron phosphate. Lead-acid batteries last much less than the Lithium battery system. This is because lead-acid batteries can only be discharged and charged a certain number of times. Lead acid also suffers in hot environments as the heat speeds up its chemical reactions which reduces lifespan even more sharply.
Lithium Iron Phosphate, on the other hand, has much better longevity than lead acid batteries - they are able to hold a full charge longer and they don't suffer as much from extreme temperatures. However, their initial cost is higher than lead-acid batteries but in the long run it's worth it because of its longevity.
The life of batteries also depends on how they are used. Deep discharging or heavy use of lead acid batteries can reduce the life span substantially; lithium battery depth of discharge is recommended to be 80%. If you only need to store a little bit of power for your solar system - think like less than 24 hours or so - then either battery type will work. But if you need to store power for 24 hours or more, then solar batteries are the best option because they give a much higher capacity charge and discharge cycles than lead acid options.
Solar panels last longer by repairing them when necessary. There are many different types of damages that can affect panels - for example, hail damage or physical impact from vehicles and natural disasters such as fires and wind storms. If your panels are affected by any of these types of damage, it's best to repair them as soon as possible.
Damages can be repaired in different ways: for example, you could use silicone caulk or liquid nails and some old towels. The first step is to clean the damaged area with a sponge moistened with water; then apply the silicone caulk or liquid nails and cover it with an old towel. Leave the material to dry for a few hours before spraying water on top of the panel in order to activate the glue.
A new type of material called S-Glass was developed at the University of California Davis to increase solar panel life. It has a higher heat tolerance and greater strength to help reduce the risk of damage from hail or physical impact.
Fixing solar panels will depend on what type of damages they have, but all can be repaired in one way or another with some companies specializing in certain types of repairs only (e.g., S-Glass). The cost of repairing solar panels will depend on the severity of damages, type and age.
If you need to have your solar system repaired, it's worth looking at what the warranty covers. Your solar warranty can cover up to 50% of costs for repairs and some even more than that (depending on the company). A usual solar panel repair costs more than what you would pay for new solar panel installation, but this is the only way to get your system back up and running.
Usually, solar panels last for decades in favorable conditions. After installation, the only thing you need to do is make sure they are installed well and that environmental factors aren’t going to negatively affect them. When you consider installing a solar system for your home, it is important to understand the coverage of your warranty and work with solar system professionals that are licensed and certified.
Here are some ways you can prolong the use of your solar panel system:
Solar energy requires periodic check-ups, which will help prolong the life of your solar panels. However, you should always consult reputable companies and service providers for cleanings and maintenance - otherwise they might do more damage than good!
How long solar panels last is a question that comes up all the time. It is worth noting that there are many factors that can affect the lifespan of a solar panel system. There will be a solar panel repair here and there as well; this is where your warranty comes in handy because you should have coverage for up to 50% of your solar panel costs. How long a solar panel system lasts will depend on the quality and brand, as well as environmental factors like dust accumulation or high winds that can have an impact. These are very helpful information for solar project installations so we’ve put together this list of frequently asked questions and answered them for you! If you have any additional questions about solar panel lifespan or need help with solar installation services and maintenance for businesses, don’t hesitate to contact us. We offer commercial renewable energy services like installation and maintenance programs designed specifically for businesses. Get in touch with us today if you want more information on our offerings or would like to schedule an assessment of your current situation!