The Lifespan of Solar Panels
Solar panels, also known as photovoltaic or PV panels, have become increasingly commonplace in recent years as the technology becomes more accessible and more affordable. Solar panels are a reliable source of renewable energy and a clean energy option for homeowners looking for ways to reduce their energy bills and their carbon footprint. The most important factor for homeowners considering installing solar panels is the longevity of the solar panels: how long do solar panels last?
A. Definition of Solar Panels
Solar panels are photovoltaic (PV) systems that generate electricity when exposed to direct sunlight. They are made up of small solar cells that are wired together to create a single large panel. Each solar panel consists of many cells that absorb sunlight and convert it into electricity. Solar panels are typically made of silicon, which is a highly durable material capable of withstanding extreme weather conditions. Solar panels are an increasingly popular renewable energy option, as they reduce reliance on other forms of power generation, such as gas or coal plants, and promote a clean energy source.
B. Benefits of Installing Solar Panels
The primary benefit of installing solar panels is reduced energy costs. By harnessing energy from the sun, solar panels can provide for a home’s power needs without reliance on utilities or other forms of energy. Depending on the size of the installation, solar panels could reduce or even eliminate an individual’s or a household’s electricity bill.
Solar panels are also low-maintenance and require little upkeep. They require no external resources once installed and can usually be left for long periods of time with minimal maintenance, such as cleaning and simple repairs. On top of that, solar panels provide environmental benefits by reducing emissions and other pollutants caused by other forms of energy generation.
II. How Long Will Solar Panels Last?
A. Typical Lifespan is 25 Years
The typical lifespan of a solar panel is 25 years. Manufacturers typically design and rate solar panels to last this long. The rate of solar degradation, or a reduction in solar panel function over time, is typically very low, and solar panels are expected to function at 80% of their capacity after 25 years.
B. Unexpectedly Long Lifespan for Panels Installed in 1980s
What may be more surprising is that many solar panels built in the 1980s are still in operation today, and are functioning at as they were intended. An early experiment by the US Department of Energy installed over 1,500 photovoltaic projects in 1981, and many of those projects are still running today. This proves that solar panels can last much longer than their expected lifespan, and that with proper maintenance, they can be a reliable source of renewable energy for a long time to come.
III. How to Extend Life of Solar Panels
A. Proper Installation
Proper installation is essential for maximize the lifespan of solar panels. Choosing quality materials and installation methods is essential for reducing rate of solar degradation. Solar panels should also be installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions, which typically include mounting the panels on an appropriate support structure, wiring the installation correctly, and weatherproofing the installation.
B. Routine Cleaning and Maintenance
Periodic cleaning and maintenance of solar panels is necessary to ensure that they function optimally. Solar panels should be kept free of dirt, dust, and debris, which can otherwise reduce the effectiveness of the cells. The panels should be wiped down with a lint-free cloth and warm water once every few months, and any loose parts should be tightened.
IV. Benefits of Extended Lifespan
A. Continuous Use of Solar Energy
The primary benefit of an extended lifespan is the ability to use solar energy for a longer period of time. Solar panels can be reliable sources of renewable energy for decades. As long as the panels are properly installed, maintained, and cared for, they should be able to meet a homeowner’s energy needs for the foreseeable future.
B. Cost Saving from Not Needing to Replace
By being able to use solar panels for an extended period of time, homeowners can save a substantial amount of money. The cost of installing and maintaining solar panels over time is much lower than replacing solar panels every 25 years. This cost-saving effect makes solar panels an even more attractive investment, especially considering the potential long-term returns.
Solar panels can last 25 years or longer, making them an attractive and reliable renewable energy option for homeowners. Installing solar panels can provide homeowners with the benefit of reduced energy costs, as well as environmental benefits due to the clean energy source. Proper installation, routine cleaning and maintenance, and other practices are recommended practices for maximizing the lifespan of solar panels. Solar panels are a long-term investment that can save money in the long run, making them a win-win for homeowners.
Aguilera, D. (2014). Solar panel longevity. Retrieved from https://energyinformative.org/solar-panel-longevity/
Department of Energy. (2018). Solar photovoltaic radiator. Retrieved from https://www.energy.gov/eere/solar/solar-photovoltaic-radiator
Energy Matters. (2020). Solar panel lifespan: how long do solar panels last? Retrieved from https://www.energymatters.com.au/renewable-news/solar-panel-lifespan-how-long-do-solar-panels-last/
National Renewable Energy Laboratory. (2008). A Systematic Review of the Current Solar Cell Technologies and Related Issues. Paper presented at the Green Energy. Retrieved from https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy08osti/41758.pdf