How long do solar panels last?

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Before purchasing CEC, consumers carefully study the efficiency, payback and life of solar panels. Modules of all manufacturers show the ability to withstand adverse environmental factors. Most panels show good performance in extreme conditions. The durability of solar batteries is evidenced by the first modern model, which has been in operation for more than 60 years. At the same time, its degradation, taking into account the operational period, is completely insignificant.

What affects the life of a solar battery?

Lifespan of solar panels

The service life of solar panels primarily depends on the condition of the modular sealant. He is responsible for protecting the electrical connection system from external influences: moisture, UV radiation, temperature changes.

Consider how each factor affects the condition of the equipment

  • moisture leads to corrosion of connections, contacts are destroyed over time due to rust, the output voltage drops;
  • ultraviolet radiation destroys sealing components, increasing the risk of mechanical damage;
  • elevated temperature reduces efficiency by 10%;
  • the loss of transparency of the film provokes a decrease in the amount of light reaching the solar cells, which also negatively affects the efficiency.
The service life of a solar battery may also depend on its type: monocrystalline solar batteries are considered the most durable, polycrystalline ones occupy the second position in terms of service life. Amorphous panels, which are a thin film, lose 15% efficiency after 5 years. But a new generation of such batteries has already been developed, and they can work up to 20 years.  

What is Solar Panel Degradation?

Degradation of solar panels

Many users notice a slight decrease in the amount of energy generated over time. This is the degradation of solar panels. Scientifically, this term sounds like “potential induced degradation”, and means, in addition to lowering output, changes in the structure of the structure itself. 

Under the influence of external factors, the autonomy of semiconductor cells and the protective housing is violated. This phenomenon leads to the flow of leakage currents, thereby reducing the performance of solar systems. 

nfortunately, degradation is typical for almost all solar panels. The only difference is how fast the rate of change is.

Studies have shown that structures degrade depending on the quality:

  • quality options in the first year lose 2-3% of efficiency, in the next 10-20 years – 0.7%;
  • budget panels are unpredictable in this regard – already in the first year, degradation can be 20%, which makes a cheap purchase unjustified. 

Therefore, we categorically do not recommend saving on photomodules for SES. After all, no matter how much you want to count on a quick payback, real-time work will show unpleasant results.

How long do solar panels really last?

The lifetime of solar panels is difficult to calculate. Manufacturers give a guarantee for 15-25 years. Some single-crystal samples of the new generation are provided with longer warranty obligations – up to 30 years.

But according to the test results, the conclusion suggests itself: the actual service life of solar panels of brands present on the market is at least 20 years. And even after the inevitable decrease in power after 15-20 years of operation, the panels continue to work, they just produce a little less energy.

Service life of other solar panel components

A solar power plant cannot function without additional equipment. And you need to choose all the components of the system in such a way as to ensure long-term integrated work as much as possible.

Consider the necessary equipment and its operational terms.

  1. Inverters that convert DC to AC. These devices are presented in the premium class and the budget segment. But, regardless of the cost, they serve at least 10-15 years. You can buy an innovative inverter with a service life of 20 years. Device manufacturers provide a guarantee of only 5-7 years, but in reality they last 2 times longer.
  2. Batteries. They are used in stand-alone and hybrid solar power plants, provide round-the-clock power supply. The battery life for solar batteries is determined by their type: lead-acid – 3-4 years, AGM – 5-7 years, with gel fillers – 12-15 years, Li-On – 20+ years.
  3. Charge controllers. Each branch solar power plant needs devices that control the charge and discharge level of energy storage devices. The simplest controllers function indefinitely, complex programmable ones work for 5-8 years, and for some instances they give a guarantee of 10-12 years of uninterrupted operation.

Proper selection of equipment is another factor that affects the life of solar panels in general. 

Do solar panels have time to pay off for the period of their performance?

It is possible to count on the fact that the installation of a network power plant will fully justify itself in 3-5 years. The payback period of autonomous solar power plants may be longer, but still does not exceed 10 years. If we take into account that the solar battery is able to efficiently generate electricity for at least 20 years, it will have time to pay off by 100% even before the warranty period expires. 

How to increase the life of solar panels?

The shelf life of solar panels will increase if physical damage is avoided: remove old tree branches that can fall to the surface, protect the system from the curiosity of unwanted guests. Provide regular maintenance, carry out periodic cleaning, check contacts and grounding.

If the power plant is installed in a region with an unfavorable climate, it is advisable to build a structure that will protect the PV modules from wind and precipitation. Remove snow from surfaces after heavy snowfall.

When dust accumulates, the structures should be washed with a hose.

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