Solar panels degrade at different rates for different reasons. In the first ten years, solar panels will have gone through the majority of their degradation. The median rate of degradation in panels produced after the year 2000 is between 0.5% and 0.8%.
You could lose up to 10% or even 15% of your efficiency in the first 10 years, but after that, the rate of degradation slows dramatically. Why does this happen and how long do solar panels last?
Keep reading to find out.
Why Do Solar Panels Degrade Over Time?
When answering “how long do home solar panels last” we need to consider two major technical reasons for the physical degradation of solar panels. Those are light-induced degradation or LID and potential-induced degradation or PID.
PID and LID are terms you see thrown around often but don’t get much explanation for unless you ask a professional.
The three main forms of LID are:
- Light-induced degradation (LID)
- Direct light-induced degradation (DLID)
- UV light-induced degradation (UVID)
In all cases, the efficiency of your panel will degrade about 1% to 3% during the initial 1000 hours due to LID.
PID is due to differences in how the panel, frame, and inverter interact. These interactions cause voltage leaks if they have different voltage ratings. How much you’ll lose from this depends on how well you choose components during the design phase and how good the installation is.
Can You Slow the Rate of Degradation?
There are five things that affect the speed of degradation. Those are:
- Compatability of the panel assembly materials
- Quality of component parts of the solar power system
- Quality of the installation
- Ongoing maintenance
- Weather and climate
The compatibility of the solar panel’s construction materials and the quality of the parts you’re using can be managed ahead of installation. A quality installation from a trusted installer like Blue Raven Solar will go a long way to starting on the right foot and staying there.
In other words, compatibility, component quality, and installation all can work to reduce PID and LID.
Afterward, ongoing maintenance and weather are the highest contributing factors to the degradation of the system. Find out from your installer the best way to maintain your particular system.
Immediate weather threats are hail, high winds in a hurricane or tornado, heavy snowfall, and flying debris like tree limbs. Large changes in temperature and humidity can also cause issues over time.
How Long Do Solar Panels Last?
Roof solar panels frequently have warranties up to 25 or 30 years, but your panels may last much longer than that. Manufacturers’ limits are based on panels becoming 80% or less of their expected factory production rate. If the system produced 1kWh of electricity, 80% is 0.8kWh.
Degradation occurs much more slowly as time goes on. With continued maintenance, you could see your panels working for 50 years. That said, they wouldn’t be expected to be producing much by then.
Growing Old Together
How long do solar panels last? As with most things in life, the answer is “it depends.” Surely, though, you’ll be able to see out the 25 or 30 years they’re typically rated for.
Chances are, you won’t have to buy another system if it’s maintained well. It’s more likely that your roof needs replacing before your solar power system.
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