What is the approximate life span of solar panels? Before installing solar panels in a home or business, it is imperative to consider several different factors. One of the most important considerations is financial, and everything related to making an investment of this nature. In fact, profitability is one of the main reasons (albeit not the only one) why individuals and companies decide to install solar panels.
To calculate the profitability of a photovoltaic installation, we need to take three fundamental factors into account: the investment, the size of the installation and the elements we need (solar panels, inverters, etc.). Neither should we forget the subject of this article – the life span of solar panels – as this is closely related to the installation’s performance over time.
Manufacturers estimate the average life span of solar panels at 25 to 30 years, which is how long they can operate at maximum power. After that, they still continue to produce electricity (the world’s first modern solar panel has been doing so for more than 60 years!), although their power output notably decreases. This means that they generate less electricity from the same amount of received sunlight.
What factors influence the life span of solar panels?
The main causes of the deterioration of solar panels, and the progressive decline in their energy production, are certain climatic factors, such as rain, wind or ice.
We can cite the example of thermal cycling, which is the expansion and contraction of materials due to high or low temperatures. Small cracks can form in the photovoltaic modules, and these can interfere with their operation. These micro-cracks in the silicon cells cause the electrical connections to deteriorate, resulting in a reduction in the movement of electrons from the sun. The end result is an overall reduction in energy production.
Hail, ice, discolouration, or junction box failures can also cause premature deterioration of solar panels.
Moreover, the life span of solar panels is conditioned by the type of panels and their manufacturer. Monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels, which are considered to be of higher quality, reduce their output by about 0.5% per year, while thin-film solar panels, which are somewhat more affordable, deteriorate more rapidly and have a shorter life span.
In percentage terms, experts estimate that solar panels function at 90% energy efficiency for the first ten years and then 80% for the next 15 to 20 years. After that time, deterioration is more pronounced. This doesn’t mean that the photovoltaic installation stops working, but it does mean its performance is impaired.
Is it possible to extend the life span of solar panels?
At this point, you may be wondering if it’s possible to increase solar panel life span in order to increase the profitability of your installation.
In principle, the deterioration of solar panels is inevitable, although we can extend their life span to the maximum and avoid their premature deterioration.
One of the keys to achieving this is to carry out good maintenance of the entire installation.
In principle, solar panel maintenance is very simple, as they have no moving parts. However, it is also very necessary, especially when it comes to cleaning photovoltaic panels.
As well as cleaning the panels periodically, it’s a good idea to hire an installer or authorised company to inspect the whole system and detect any issues that could cause problems in the future (exposed cables, loose parts, damage, etc.).
Furthermore, we should take the preventative measure of ensuring that there are no obstacles or potential hazards near the installation, such as trees whose branches could damage the panel if they should fall.
Looking for quality solar panels? At MyGreenHouse, we design all types of photovoltaic projects and installations. We adapt to each client’s needs and create customised solutions to achieve maximum profitability with an affordable investment. Call us and we will be happy to help in any way.