If you’re looking for ways to reduce your carbon footprint while saving some money, solar panels are an excellent investment. While they require a sizable upfront cost, solar panels can contribute to significant savings over time.
Before investing in residential or commercial solar panels, it’s important to know how long they can last. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at solar panel longevity, as well as other factors, including:
- Solar panel degradation
- Factors that impact solar panel longevity
- What happens when solar panels degrade
- Solar panel maintenance
- Replacing solar panel components
- How long it takes for solar panels to pay for themselves
Let’s find out how much bang for your buck you can get from high-quality solar panels.
How Long Do Solar Panels Last?
High-quality solar panels typically have a production lifespan of between 25 and 30 years.
However, solar panels don’t necessarily break down or cease to produce electricity at this point. They begin to experience degradation, which essentially means their solar output is reduced.
We will discuss the process of degradation and its effects on solar panels later on.
Apart from physical damage due to a storm or accident, degradation has the most significant impact on how long solar panels last. Depending on the climate and panel positioning, degradation can occur at different rates.Solar panels continue to produce electricity until degradation has rendered them obsolete.
However, the point at which they are no longer economically beneficial is usually around the 25 or 30-year mark.
How Long Do Solar Panels Last On a House?
Solar panels, whether used for residential or commercial properties, generally have the same lifespan of 25 to 30 years.
Although commercial panels are a little bigger and maybe more efficient, they are expected to have a similar production life as those you would install on your home.
How Long Do Solar Panels Last UK?
When all conditions are equal, solar panels in the UK last the same length of time as those in other regions: 25 to 30 years.
However, certain factors, such as the UK weather, can impact this lifespan.
For example, panels can be damaged from storms, hail, or loose debris. As the UK experiences more rain and hail than in other parts of the world, the risk of damage may be higher.
How Long Do Solar Panels Last Without Sunlight?
In a total absence of light and the right storage conditions, solar panels may not experience any degradation.
Typically, the panels start to degrade once the installation process begins and they are exposed to light. However, weather, dust, debris, and temperature fluctuations can damage a panel so the storage conditions must be optimal.
In terms of electricity generation, solar panels require at least some light source. However, this doesn’t mean they need direct sunlight. Commercial solar panels generate electricity using photons from all-natural light. This means they can function on cloudy days or in positions where they aren’t in the direct paths of the sun’s rays.
As long as solar panels are in use, they experience degradation. Therefore, they have an expected lifespan of 25 to 30 years, regardless of their position or light exposure.
Solar Panel Degradation
Degradation can be defined as the reduction in the output of solar panels over time. It is perhaps the most important factor in determining how long panels last. According to the NREL, solar panels degrade at a rate of approximately 0.5% per year (average). This means that after 20 years of use, solar panels only operate at 90%.
Most solar panel manufacturers base their product warranties on this timeframe. They generally offer protection on their products for up to 25 years or more. Some newer, higher-powered solar panels may even come with a 30-year warranty.
Why Do Solar Panels Degrade?
Solar panels degrade for several reasons, including the quality of the panel, product assembly, installation, maintenance, and weather conditions.
Degradation is generally triggered by light exposure or aging.
Chemical breakdowns from light exposure occur within the panels in several different ways:
- Light-Induced Degradation (LID): this is where the panel’s crystalline silicon cells are exposed to the outside environment, like sunlight, wind, rain, or temperature fluctuations.
- Direct Light-Induced Degradation (DLID): extensive exposure to direct sunlight can damage the electronics within photovoltaic cells.
- Ultra Violet Light-Induced Degradation (UVID): exposure to direct sunlight leads to the silicon oxide on the surface of a solar panel to develop a substance called boron dioxide, which lowers the panel’s efficiency.
Unless solar panels are stored in optimal conditions such as a temperature-controlled laboratory, they inherently degrade over time. Natural elements that can damage panels include:
Exposure to such materials can cause microcracks on the surface of the panel, damaging the protective seal. Once the seal is compromised, water and other forms of debris can infiltrate the panel, damaging the electronics. If this happens, the panel can break down very quickly.
If the panel experiences damage due to natural degradation, you’re likely to see a significant dip in productivity within a short period.
Solar Panel Quality
Simply put, high-quality materials contribute to longer-lasting solar panels.
The quality of components may raise the price of a solar panel but it can also make it more resilient and reduce the rate of degradation. Some of the most important materials include:
- Solar glass
- Aluminum frame
- Solar cells
Cheaper solar panels are often built with thin frames that contain lower levels of aluminum. This reduces their structural integrity and makes them more susceptible to damage.
Assembling panels is a complex process that requires precision wiring and soldering. Poorly assembled panels or errors in manufacturing can accelerate degradation, particularly if it affects the oxidation levels or causes a voltage leak.
Damage can easily occur during the installation process. Mishandling the panels can cause micro-cracks or scratches to the surface, diminishing performance and speeding up degradation. Poor installation techniques may also lead to badly fitted electrical wiring which can greatly reduce performance.
Another crucial aspect of the installation process is positioning. The panels must be placed at the most appropriate angle to not only garner the lightest exposure but also to create the most optimal position for self-cleaning functions and mechanical resistance.
Solar panels don’t require a lot of maintenance.
However, you should always make sure to keep an eye on their condition to ensure there isn’t a build-up of dust, debris, or potentially harmful substances. The most important components to monitor include the cables, inverters, and connections.
Solar panel degradation can be accelerated by various types of weather events such as heatwaves, storms, snow, and torrential rain. Temperature fluctuations may also cause the inner components to expand and contract, leading to damage. Extreme temperature changes are most harmful.
What Happens To Solar Panels After 25 Years?
After 25 years of use, solar panels degrade to the point where they are no longer economically beneficial.
It’s important to note that solar panels continue to produce electricity after 25 years. However, their energy production no longer meets efficiency levels that are optimal for a building’s energy needs.
Fortunately, the savings you can make throughout a panel’s useful life should be enough to more than pay for the system.
Interestingly, a recent study from the Joule journal, reported that panels with lifetimes of 10 years can be economically viable. What’s more, they may even suit grid-scale applications. According to the study:
“PV technologies are improving rapidly along several dimensions, including cost, power conversion efficiency, and reliability. Periodic module replacement or planned repowering takes advantage of this technological improvement and counteracts predictable degradation. “Michael Woodhouse and Vladimir Bulovic, 2019
Solar Panel Degradation Rate Comparison
Solar panels have a degradation rate of approximately 1% per year. Depending on the quality of materials, these figures can vary slightly. Tier 1 panels tend to last the longest due to the high-grade materials used to manufacture them.
Most manufacturers place guarantees on their units that are intended to last as long as the useful lifespan of the panels. The industry standard indicates that panels will maintain 90% of their production value for the first ten years and approximately 80% after 25 to 30 years.
The following table compares solar panel degradation between tier 1, 2, and 3 panels.
|Output Reduction Over 25 Years||Remaining Output After 25 Years|
Do Solar Panels Need A Lot Of Maintenance?
Another great benefit of solar panels is that they generally require very little maintenance.
The only difficult part is accessing your panels. If they’re located on your roof, be sure to take every precaution to stay safe, or hire a professional cleaning service.
The most important maintenance for solar panels is to keep them free from debris. Solar panels are usually positioned at an angle so rain and wind are natural cleaners. If you live in a dusty, sandy, or smog-heavy region, watch out for a build-up of sediment on your panels. This can negatively impact their energy output.
To clean, simply rinse the panels with clean water. Although you can use mild detergent and soap, avoid using abrasive substances. These may scratch or damage the panels, reducing their efficiency. There is no set number of times you should clean your panels. In general, somewhere between 2 and 5 times per year should be adequate.
It’s important to track the productivity and efficiency of your panels to make sure they are performing adequately. A dip in efficiency could indicate an issue.
Do Solar Panels Break Easily?
Solar panels are quite durable and don’t break easily.
The glass that covers the exterior of each unit is designed to stand up to severe weather conditions and impact from debris. The quality of the components and materials used to make each unit determines how durable it is. The higher the quality of the component, the stronger it is likely to be.
By checking on the condition of your panels regularly, you can avoid most major problems. Serious issues tend to occur if the damage goes unnoticed. Over time, the compromised component can deteriorate, leading to further damage. If the solar cell eventually becomes exposed, the unit is likely to break.
What Contributes to Solar Panel Durability?
Some of the most important components that contribute to solar panel durability include:
Solar manufacturers are rated by independent analysts in the PV industry. Tier 1 panels are the highest grade units on the market. Where possible, customers should always purchase from a tier 1 manufacturer to ensure they have the highest quality cells.
Tier 1 manufacturers typically control all aspects of cell production. They often invest significantly in research and development (R & D). This results in the widespread use of automated manufacturing processes, leading to high-quality and reliable products.
Tier 2 and 3 manufacturers are much smaller operations. They generally don’t have R & D teams and are much newer to the business. While there are some high-quality and cost-effective solar options from tier 2 manufacturers, they come with a risk.
The type of glass affects the performance of solar panels in several ways. Firstly, low-quality glass can break easily, exposing the inner components of a panel to the elements. Even minor cracks can allow moisture to slip through, reducing efficiency. Over time, the poor-quality glass may become clouded, blocking the light, and further reducing panel performance.
Tempered glass is the preferred type in the industry. It is highly durable and resistant to clouding, making it an excellent option for all solar panels.
High-quality materials must be secured with strong seals to prevent moisture or other materials from penetrating the exterior. Silicon-based sealants are the industry standard. Manufacturers and repair technicians should use silicon-based sealants for securing or resealing frames and junction boxes.
The panel back sheet is a key component that contributes to safety and efficiency. If the back sheet is compromised, the unit can experience power loss and degradation. Solar customers should avoid panels built from non-UV resistant polyvinylidene difluoride (PVDF). Opt for back sheets manufactured from UV-blocking polyvinyl fluoride (PVF) film.
The junction box is located at the rear of the panel. It contains the electronic connections for the PV strings as well as the output interface for the panels. Any moisture penetration could cause severe damage to the modules. The junction box should have a silicon cover and be secured with a durable sealant.
Most modern solar panels use MC4 connectors. They are high in quality and make the wiring process quick and easy.
The PV inverter converts the DC output from the panel into usable energy (AC current). This energy can then be hooked up to a commercial or off-grid electric network.
Solar racking holds an entire system in place. As panels are often placed at angles on elevated platforms or roofs, racking must be durable and secure. Typically, the most stable racking is made from aluminum. It is very strong and lightweight when compared to alternative materials.
Why Do Solar Panels Stop Working?
While degradation occurs naturally, it is often accelerated due to damage or over-exposure to the elements.
Thermal cycling, humidity, extended UV ray exposure, and heat can cause sealants to fail or panels to crack. If this type of damage goes unnoticed, a solar system is likely to fail before long.
How Often Do Solar Panels Need To Be Replaced?
Good solar panels can last anywhere from 20 to 30 years, but there’s not necessarily a specific time you should replace yours.
It’s more important to pay attention to their productivity.
If your solar panels are still in good shape and producing enough electricity, then they may not need to be replaced. On the other hand, if you find that your electricity bill is going up because your solar panels are no longer doing the trick, then it’s probably time to replace them.
Can Solar Panels Last 40 Years?
In theory, solar panels can remain operational after 40 years.
However, due to degradation, they are most likely to be past their “useful” lifespan. A 40-year-old solar panel is highly unlikely to contribute to an efficient electrical system.
One of the key advantages of solar panel systems is that many of the components can be repurposed. 95% of the panel glass, 85% of the silicon, and much of the aluminum frame may be recycled and used to create even more solar products.
How Long Does It Take For Solar Panels To Pay For Themselves?
It takes US-based homeowners around 8 years to recoup their solar panel investment in savings.
Depending on the location, positioning of the panels, and quality of materials, this figure can deviate slightly. You have to remember that solar panels not only save you money on your monthly bills, but they also contribute to savings via rebates and federal solar investment tax credits.
How Much Does It Cost To Replace A Solar Panel?
Replacing an entire solar panel costs around $12,000 on average (after federal tax incentives).
However, more comprehensive, Tier 1 systems can cost $40,000 or more to install.
How Long Solar Panels Last (Long-term Investment) - 2023? ›
These panels have an average life span of 25 to 30 years. However, factors such as the panel type, quality, and local climate can cause this figure to vary. With proper maintenance, high-quality solar panels can last even longer.Are solar panels a good investment in 2023? ›
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) passed in 2022 has also extended tax incentives for solar installation. While inflation and supply chain challenges have increased the price of solar recently, the reality is that 2023 is one of the best years in recent memory for homeowners to consider investing in solar.Will solar panel prices go down in 2023? ›
Solar costs are very likely to decrease in 2023, making rooftop renewables affordable for more homeowners. In November 2022, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) published its analysis of the cost of solar and energy storage (battery) system installations for the first quarter of 2022.What will solar capacity be in 2023? ›
As of January 2023, 73.5 gigawatts (GW) of utility-scale solar capacity was operating in the United States, about 6% of the U.S. total. Just over half of the new U.S. generating capacity expected in 2023 is solar power.How much will solar cost in 2025? ›
Learning rates vary from 8% to 40%. The analysis suggests that the cost of solar energy – presently slightly more expensive than wind, on average – will start to undercut wind from around 2025, at about $31/MWh. By 2050, the solar average is around $17.6/MWh, compared with wind at $21.5/MWh.Will solar become 35 cheaper by 2024? ›
1. Solar Will Become 35% Cheaper By 2024. When the sun shines onto a solar panel, energy from the sunlight is absorbed by the PV cells in the panel. This energy creates electrical charges that move in response to an internal electrical field in the cell, causing electricity to flow.Will solar panels get cheaper in 2024? ›
In 2020, the 30% tax credit dropped to 26%. In 2023, the credit will drop again to 22%. In 2024, the credit will drop to 10% for commercial systems and will go away entirely for residential systems. Waiting just two years could cause homeowners to pay 26% more for their solar system, and businesses to pay 16% more.How efficient will solar panels be in 10 years? ›
A panel with a degradation rate of 1% per year will be 10% less efficient after 10 years. In fact, 78% of systems tested had a degradation rate of less than 1% per year. That means that after 25 years of use, about 4 out of 5 solar panels still operate at 75% efficiency or better.How long does it take for solar panels to pay for themselves? ›
The most common estimate of the average payback period for solar panels is six to ten years. This is a pretty wide range because there are many factors that will influence the number of years it can take to pay off your panels and the monthly savings you can expect.Will solar panels last 25 years? ›
The estimated operational lifespan of a PV module is about 30-35 years, although some may produce power much longer. While few systems are entering the waste stream right now, more systems will come to the end of their useful life in the next few decades.
What is the new solar technology in 2023? ›
Expansion of off-grid solar: Off-grid solar, which provides electricity to communities and individuals that are not connected to the grid, is expected to continue to grow in 2023. Off-grid solar can help to bring electricity to remote or rural areas and support economic growth and development.What is the future forecast for solar power? ›
Global solar PV capacity is set to almost triple over the 2022-2027 period, surpassing coal and becoming the largest source of power capacity in the world. The report also forecasts an acceleration of installations of solar panels on residential and commercial rooftops, which help consumers reduce energy bills.What will happen to solar panels in the future? ›
Photovoltaics (PV) and concentrating solar power are likely to continue to grow rapidly—the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) projects solar energy could provide 45% of the electricity in the United States by 2050 if the energy system is fully decarbonized—and technology costs are projected to continue to ...Is solar a good long term investment? ›
Is getting solar panels a good investment? Solar panels are a good investment for many US households, especially those with ample sunshine and high utility rates. Going solar can lead to hundreds of thousands in energy savings over the 25-year lifespan of a system and can increase your home value.Is solar worth it long term? ›
Yes, getting a solar panel system is worth it for the excellent financial benefits and cost savings. However, solar panels aren't suitable for everyone. Residents with low energy needs, low electricity rates, or year-round inclement weather may not save money from a solar system.Is solar still a good investment? ›
If you experience higher electricity rates, switching to solar will likely be a good investment. However, if your home does not require a lot of energy consumption to operate day-to-day, you may not save enough to balance the installation cost.Will solar panels last 40 years? ›
Solar panels last about 20 years, according to the Federal Trade Commission. The great news is that, with proper maintenance, your panel may actually run for as long as 40-50 years.What happens after 25 years of solar? ›
The good news is that most residential solar panels should operate for 25 years before degradation (or reduced energy production) is noticeable. Even after that point, solar panels can continue to convert sunlight into solar energy—just at a less efficient rate than when they were new.How efficient will solar panels be in 20 years? ›
While today's average panel efficiency rate hovers around 15 percent, analysts predict that by 2027, most premium solar panels will be at least 25 percent efficient. If that trend continues into the following decade, the average high-end panel in 2038 would be over 30 percent efficient.Do solar panels save money long term? ›
Financial returns and lower monthly utility bills are major incentives for going solar. The exact savings you will see with solar depends on the following: Electricity consumption. Solar energy system size.
Do solar panels lose value over time? ›
High-quality solar panels degrade at a rate of around 0.5% every year, generating around 12-15% less power at the end of their 25-30 lifespan. But, what are the reasons for solar panel degradation?Do solar panels save money? ›
Solar panels cost money upfront, but will provide significant savings on energy bills over time. The average home can save between $20,000 and $97,000 over the lifetime of your solar panel system, depending on the cost of electricity in your area.How long does Tesla solar panels last? ›
Your solar panels are guaranteed by their manufacturer to at least 80% of nameplate power capacity for at least 25 years. At your request, Tesla will process your claim and perform any related labor at our cost.How often do solar panels need to be cleaned? ›
It is generally recommended to clean solar panels every 6 months to a year in order to maintain the productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness of the panels. However, based on where you live and the level of dirt and pollution, the need for cleaning may be more frequent.Will solar panels ever reach 50 efficiency? ›
Will solar panels ever reach 50 percent efficiency? Maybe! Researchers say that he technology used by NREL to create solar cells with 47.1 percent efficiency can be fine-tuned to reach 50 percent efficiency in the future.What happens after I pay off my solar panels? ›
Once you pay off your loan or buy your system outright you will essentially be getting energy for free. When it comes to payment, those who are using solar energy will still get a monthly utility bill. This will show how much energy you produced versus how much energy you used for the month.Does solar panels affect your house insurance? ›
Most rooftop solar energy systems are covered by standard homeowners policies, which doesn't change your insurance plan. However, you may need to increase the amount of coverage on your home to account for the cost of the system which can then raise your premium.How do you pay off solar panels? ›
There are three primary ways to pay for solar: with a cash purchase, with a solar loan, or with a solar lease/power purchase agreement.How long do batteries for solar panels last? ›
How Long Does a Solar Battery Last? Home solar battery units last anywhere between 5 and 15 years. If you decide to install a solar battery today, it's almost certain you'll need a replacement in the future to match the 20- to 30-year lifespan of your solar power system.Does hail damage solar panels? ›
Solar panels can take a beating and keep going. The tempered glass on the surface is typically strong enough that most hailstorms will not damage your panels. Despite the durability of tempered glass, extreme weather events with hail can get rough enough to damage the panels.
What happens after 30 years of solar panels? ›
The industry standard for the lifespan of solar panels is 25-30 years. However, a solar panel won't die after 25-30 years – rather, its power output will decrease a significant amount below what the manufacturer projected.What technology will replace solar panels? ›
Emerging technologies include pyramidal lenses, developed by researchers at Stanford University, which promise to concentrate the amount of light that hits a solar cell—getting the same amount of light to hit an area a third of the size—a breakthrough that could make solar panels more efficient in indirect light ...Is solar in the US forecast to triple in five years? ›
Cumulative solar installations across all market segments will nearly triple in size, growing from 129GW today to 336GW by 2027.What is the future solar panel material? ›
Perovskites hold promise for creating solar panels that could be easily deposited onto most surfaces, including flexible and textured ones. These materials would also be lightweight, cheap to produce, and as efficient as today's leading photovoltaic materials, which are mainly silicon.What is the biggest problem of solar energy? ›
Intermittency. One of the biggest problems that solar energy technology poses is that energy is only generated while the sun is shining. That means nighttime and overcast days can interrupt the supply.Will Biden increase solar? ›
Biden-Harris Administration Announces $82 Million Investment to Increase Domestic Solar Manufacturing and Recycling, Strengthen the American Clean Energy Grid.Is it smart to invest in solar panels? ›
Solar panels are increasingly efficient, affordable, and reliable—allowing you to access risk-free solar energy savings and pay off your investment in record time. You'll also be eligible for tax credits and incentives and, in some cases, can even earn credit from your utility company for the energy you produce.What is a good return on investment for solar? ›
However, generally speaking, people can expect to see an ROI in the range of 10% to 20%. That means that if you invest $10,000 in a solar PV system, you could potentially earn back as much as $1,000 to $2,000 over the lifespan of your system.Will solar stocks continue to rise? ›
Consequently, solar businesses have been experiencing rampant sales growth, and the worldwide market is expected to grow roughly 7% annually until 2030. Therefore, investing in solar stocks to buy is likely to prove lucrative over time.Is going solar better than electric? ›
Although solar equipment can be more expensive initially, the main reason that people choose solar power instead of electricity is the cost savings. Solar energy is very efficient and able to pay back the cost of installation over a number of years.
How much can solar save you a year? ›
But just how much money can solar panels save homeowners each year? You could save around $1,346 on annual energy bills — based on a 6 kilowatt (kW) home solar system generating 9,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy and the average national electricity price of 14.96 cents per kWh.Is solar hard to maintain? ›
Solar panels remain relatively easy to maintain because they sit at an angle, which makes it easy for debris, snow and ice to slide off. Spraying them with a garden hose makes it an easy task, but do not attempt to spray solar panels with a pressure washer because the force can damage the panels.Will solar get cheaper in 2023? ›
Solar costs are very likely to decrease in 2023, making rooftop renewables affordable for more homeowners. In November 2022, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) published its analysis of the cost of solar and energy storage (battery) system installations for the first quarter of 2022.Is solar a good idea in 2023? ›
Will Solar Be a Good Investment in 2023? Most estimates say yes, depending on where you live and available local incentives. Numerous signs point to 2023 being a strong year for solar. Here are some of the most important reasons why we believe 2023 will be a worthwhile year for solar power investments.Is solar worth it in 2023? ›
Here are 23 reasons your home and business should consider installing solar panels in 2023: The 2023 federal solar tax credit significantly reduces the cost of installing solar. In August 2022, the Inflation Reduction Act passed, increasing the solar tax credit to 30% of the system cost—which can include a battery!What is the future outlook of solar panels? ›
Photovoltaics (PV) and concentrating solar power are likely to continue to grow rapidly—the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) projects solar energy could provide 45% of the electricity in the United States by 2050 if the energy system is fully decarbonized—and technology costs are projected to continue to ...What is the future outlook for solar? ›
Compared with the approximately 15 GW of solar capacity deployed in 2020, annual solar deployment is 30 GW on average in the early 2020s and grows to 60 GW on average from 2025 to 2030. Similarly substantial solar deployment rates continue in the 2030s and beyond.Where will solar be in 20 years? ›
Analysts estimate that almost one-third of the world's electricity will come from solar by 2040 globally, including 10% from small-scale (residential) solar systems and 22% from utility-scale solar installations. That's 14 times greater than the amount of solar power being produced today.What happens after 25 years of solar panels? ›
The industry standard for the lifespan of solar panels is 25-30 years. However, a solar panel won't die after 25-30 years – rather, its power output will decrease a significant amount below what the manufacturer projected.What is the solar outlook for 2030? ›
The IEA expects annual growth to more than quadruple to 650 GW in 2030. By then, annual solar and wind power installations in the United States will increase two and a half times from today's levels, thanks in part to the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
Can solar panels work with AC? ›
The simple answer to this question is yes. You can most definitely run your AC on solar power. As long as you provide steady voltage and continuous current, you will have no problems.Do solar panels actually save you money? ›
Besides the federal tax credit, solar panels increase property values while lowering utility bills. Compared to gas or electric heating systems, solar panels save you much more in the long-run. Your solar panel system can pay for itself in three years!Do solar panels always save you money? ›
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average household uses around 893 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month. A residential solar setup produces anywhere from 350 to 850 kWh per month. Therefore, you can save as much as 95% off your utility bill.