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How Long Do Solar Panels Last

Solar panels are a great investment, but they don’t last forever. Review the ways your solar panel degrades and how to prevent degradation to extend the life of your solar panels.
Fact Checked

Updated: 13 May 2024

With the average warranty lasting over 25 years, it’s important to learn about the inner workings of your solar panel. From degradation rates and prevention tips to finding ways to maximise energy output, learn about your solar panel lifespan in this article.

Key facts

What is the average lifespan of a solar panel?

Solar panel warranties are a little bit more complicated than you might think. Solar panels typically come with a 25-year warranty, but in reality, they will last beyond that time period – sometimes by nearly 50%. However, the output of your system does degrade each year slightly, usually at about 0.3%-1% per month (or less). 

Solar panels will work for many decades, given they aren’t physically damaged by wind or other factors. This is primarily because solar panel components are made up of solid materials and rarely break down internally; only external forces like poor racking setup can cause them to fail quickly enough before their useful lifetime has passed.

What causes degradation in solar panels?

The solar panel degradation rate is a major factor in accounting for the decrease of an average of 0.8% each year over time, which leads to lower output from your panels and will require more frequent maintenance or replacement as they age with use. Following this average rate, it could mean that your solar panel only produces 87.5% of the electricity it has the capacity to after its 25-year warranty expires. The following factors cause solar panels to degrade:

What is the solar panel degradation rate?

Over time, solar panels lose their ability to absorb sunlight and convert it into energy due to the natural reduction in chemical potency within. The loss of efficiency of solar panels over time is referred to as a degradation rate – or how quickly they start breaking down over years of use (which would lead you back around full circle). The lower this number goes, the better! 

When dealing with electricity bills where we’re trying to maximise our savings while still getting ample power from these devices, understanding exactly when something will break isn’t good news. Still, there might be some insight into whether you should consider a replacement solar panel.

Extend the lifespan of your solar panel system

Maintaining a solar panel system is easy to do because it’s designed for durability. The panels can withstand snow, hail and wind, so they don’t need much care even if you leave them alone. You should still take the time to prevent any problems before they start by following these simple steps:

How much does it cost to maintain your solar panel system?

Solar panels are among the most cost-effective power generation equipment you can buy. With an annual bill of under $10 per kilowatt, it’s easy to see why Australia is home to some incredible solar installations.

Additionally, a 100 kW system will generally only require replacement parts every few years at most. While there still may be some labour costs associated with damage that affects total expense over time, you’re looking at spending about 10% of the original investment in maintenance costs.

Additional tips for maximising the energy output of your solar panel system

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

The average warranty of solar panels lasts for 25 to 30 years. However, this does not mean that the solar panel itself is no longer useful. It simply means that your solar panel will start to degrade and produce less electricity after this amount of time, usually only 90% of what it normally does. A solar panel can last for longer than 30 years but will need regular maintenance to remain working at full capacity.

Solar panels are a great way to make your home more energy independent, but they also have drawbacks. The first is that, as with most technologies, there will be reduced power output over time- this decrease in the median panel’s ability to produce electricity can be quantified at about 0.5%. In other words, after 20 years, you should expect 90% of original production from these devices if nothing was damaged or lost due to neglecting maintenance. Procedures such as tightening screws regularly so it doesn’t come apart again when exposed directly to sunlight which damages cells inside, can help prevent solar deterioration.

The efficiency of a solar panel will decrease as it gets hotter. As the temperature increases, energy production decreases inefficiency with cooler temperatures (59°F – 95). For this reason, you should always keep your home’s thermostat set at 78 degrees or lower when using off the grid electricity made from solar panels. If you don’t, money spent on utilities may turn into lost profits through decreased performance due to increased heating costs.

You can improve and increase your solar panel output in a number of ways. The best way is to review and compare various solar panel makes and purchase more efficient models. Panels with High Concentrated Photovoltaic (CPV) Cells generally produce more electricity, sometimes over 20% more. When you install your solar panel, make sure the angles are correct to avoid solar panel deterioration. Don’t install your panels in the shade. Make sure you hire an expert installer to check on your panels regularly.

Solar panels are a great way to generate electricity, but they have their limitations. The lifespan of solar panels is not unlimited. As they age, the output from those installations decreases at an increasingly slower rate until it becomes nothing more than just degraded energy production in year 30 or so due to degradation caused by a natural wear-and-tear on parts over time. However, panels last much longer than their 30-year warranty. You may be looking at over 60 years of a working panel, though not at full capacity if not regularly maintained.

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Megan has extensive experience writing about health and life insurance in Australia. Megan has a special interest in health and wellness. She relies on her background in counselling psychology to convey the latest findings in a manner that is most beneficial to ComparingExperts readers. In every article she writes, Megan aims to uphold the standards of the Private Health Insurance Intermediaries Association (PHIAA) which ComparingExpert is part of.

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