A solar system is an eco-friendly, budget-friendly power system that’ll reduce your carbon footprint and save you money in the long run.
However, how often do solar panels need to be replaced? Can you do it yourself? Do solar panels need to be cleaned? Is there any way to extend the life of a solar panel?
We’ll answer all of these questions in our ultimate guide and more. Let’s shine some light on the topic of solar panel care and see what we can do to extend their lifespan.
How Long Do Solar Panels Last?
Congratulations if you bought some of our top-rated DIY solar panel kits! You can expect them to last for 25 years and more.
However, just because the 25-year warranty is over, it doesn’t mean that your solar panels will suddenly stop working altogether.
With proper solar panel maintenance, your solar panels can easily last up to 50 years and more. This excellent lifespan makes solar panels a significant investment.
In fact, the United States Department of Energy reckons that after only 5 years, homeowners would’ve recovered the initial costs of installing a solar system in their home.
So, for the next 30-odd years, you can enjoy free energy and lower utility bills.
While 30 years may sound like a long time, it’s easy to extend that time even more when you understand your solar panel and how to look after it.
Yet, before you can try to extend your solar panel’s lifespan, you need to understand why it stops working after several years of efficient service.
This effect is known as solar panel degradation, and it’s essential for ensuring a long-lasting solar panel.
What Is Solar Panel Degradation?
After several years of loyal service, your solar panels will become less efficient at converting sunlight into energy. This drop in its efficiency is perfectly normal.
We find that different solar panels all have varying rates of degradation.
The rate of degradation depends on the quality of the solar panels, the materials used in manufacturing, and the manufacturing process.
Typically, the average degradation rate falls between 0.3% to 0.8% annually.
Luckily, when you work with quality products, such as those we offer, and you have an installer who knows what they’re doing - you can effortlessly ensure that your new solar system lasts as long as possible.
When Should I Consider Replacing My Solar Panels?
It’s best if you think of replacing them once your solar panels have degraded to a point where they no longer efficiently generates enough electricity to cover your needs.
This cut-off point is usually around the 80% efficiency mark, but it really depends on the number of panels you have and how much power you need for your home.
However, always consider your current energy needs. If at 80% efficiency you still manage to power everything you need, you don’t have to replace your solar panels.
How Do I Extend a Solar Panel’s Life?
Generally, solar panels are surprisingly durable. Most solar panel manufacturers test their products to confirm that they can withstand all kinds of weather. From high-speed winds to extreme snow and even hail, solar panels require little to no maintenance.
Since solar panels have no moving parts, there are very few parts that can break and prevent them from functioning. Yet, there are some steps that owners can take to extend a solar panel’s lifespan even more.
Choose the Best
The first step to ensure a long-lasting, durable solar system is to work with the best.
Quality solar products and a highly-skilled installer is the first step to ensure that your solar panels will last as long as possible.
A knowledgeable installer will advise you about any trees that could cast a shade on your solar panels as the sun moves throughout the day.
This shade will lower your solar panel’s efficiency. They’ll also let you know about the optimal degree of pitch and location for installing your solar panels.
When you have a solid installation, your solar panels will last much longer and remain as efficient as possible throughout the coming years.
Do Regular Inspections
It would be best to treat your solar panels like any other essential device in your household. So, do take the time to do regular inspections every month.
Regular inspections can reveal any potential issues, such as loose racking, exposed wires, or other concerns that can lower your solar panels’ efficiency and life expectancy.
Some solar kits come with a handy mobile app or digital displays that make it easy to determine the system’s efficiency. Using these tools, you can quickly determine if your system is losing its efficiency.
When you learn that it’s losing efficiency, you can take the proper corrective measures to improve the lifespan of your solar system.
Keep It Clean
Another critical maintenance step is to keep your solar panels clean. For instance, birds nesting under solar panels can pose a risk of damaging your solar panels.
If you live in an area with plenty of rainfall and you have installed the solar panels against a steep pitch, you’ll find that rain will most often keep your solar panels clean of dirt and dust.
However, you’ll have to keep your solar panels clean manually if you live in an area with little rainfall or even heavy snowfall.
In that case, all you have to do is use a garden hose or even a leaf blower to keep your solar panels clean from any dirt that may have gathered on them.
You’ll also need to remove snow from solar panels. Heavy snow especially can freeze on top of your solar panels. The added weight from the snow can damage your solar panels! A soft broom is best when removing heavy snow from your solar panels.
Since the solar panels are glass, you don’t want to damage the surface by leaving nasty scratches. Any scratches or cracks will reduce the solar panels’ efficiency.
If you don’t have hail-resistant solar panels, you’ll need to check for hail damage. Any defects, debris, or dirt can lower the solar panel’s efficiency.
Remember, the lower its efficiency is, the less electricity it’ll be able to generate from sunlight. So, you’ll end up with solar panels that can’t power all the devices you’d like them to power.
Can I Replace Solar Panels Myself?
You can undoubtedly replace solar panels by yourself. Yet, at Shop Solar Kits, we highly recommend hiring a professional solar installer to help you.
Since a solar system typically has several solar panels all connected together, you can end up damaging your entire system if you replace one faulty panel incorrectly.
A professional installer will make replacing solar panels quick and easy. They can help you save money and ensure that your solar system works as efficiently as possible.
Maintaining Other Parts of Your Solar System
It’s not just the solar panels that degrade after using it for years on end. Since solar panels are typically so tough, other parts of your solar system may need replacement long before your solar panels do.
Over the years, we’ve learned that you should always keep an eye on the solar panel racking, the inverter, and the solar batteries. When you look after the entire system, you’ll ensure that it continues to function efficiently for years to come.
Regular cleaning will help keep rust from forming on your solar panels which dramatically increases their lifespan, meaning you’ll have to replace them less frequently.
Your solar system’s racking may need to be replaced or repaired at some point. However, we find that most racking, such as this solar panel ground mount rack, will last an extremely long time with minimal issues.
Depending on which inverter you installed, you can expect it to last anything between 10 and 15 years. Some of the latest solar inverters can last up to 25 years. Swapping an old inverter out for a new one is pretty straightforward.
Solar batteries are another component that you’ll have to replace over time. In most cases, you can replace the batteries fairly quickly. The battery’s lifetime depends on which type of solar battery you installed and how many charge cycles it has.
Solar panels are tough and durable. They’ve got lifespans that easily last longer than 25 years. However, if you want to keep your solar system in a top-notch condition and ensure optimal efficiency, you need to:
- Do regular visual inspections.
- Frequently remove any debris, dirt, or snow.
- Invest in quality solar products.
- Hire a quality solar installer.
When you do all of this, your solar panels will provide your household with free energy for years to come!
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