Today’s technological advancements made to solar cells and solar panels have come a long way, to the point where solar energy costs are now competitive with conventional energy sources. More and more homeowners, businesses and utilities are turning to solar panel systems for electricity because of the big savings they can accrue, among other crucial reasons.
If you’re considering solar energy as a viable and sustainable alternative to fossil fuels, there are important factors about solar panels you need to understand, one of which is degradation.
What causes solar panel degradation?
First off, the technical industry term “degradation” is used to describe the decline in efficiency or output that naturally occurs in all panels over time. In general, panels are powerfully durable and built to withstand extreme weather such as heat/cold cycles, UV exposure, heavy snow, and high winds. But like all technology, solar cells inevitably age which can affect performance in the long run. The rate with which panels lose their efficiency can vary depending on the solar cell type. Solar panels decline only 0.25%-0.5% in output each year.
Thankfully, the unavoidable circumstances with which panels face in terms of degradation is considered in warranties. Manufacturers factor in panel degradation and thus offer warranties for power output or performance, which usually guarantees 80% at 25 years.
What is the lifespan of a solar panel?
Solar panels last about 25-30 years, depending on the quality of the solar technology used. This doesn’t mean that they stop generating electricity after this time, but rather the energy they produce declines by what manufacturers consider as well past their predicted “useful life.” By and large, your panels will still generate a significant amount (about 90%) of electricity after 20 years — which is good for the environment and your pocket.
Can I slow down the degradation rate?
Save for the fact that buying better solar equipment will bring you longer panel performance, there are a few things you can do to lower degradation rate each year. Although panels generally require little to no maintenance since there are no moving parts, here are tips to giving them care:
- Brush leaves, snow, or other debris off of your panels a few time a year, in addition to clearing away any branches and trees that are shading your panels. You want to maximize light exposure to ensure optimum efficiency.
- Ask your installation company about ways on how to protect your panels from weather elements.
- Check your panels for physical damage on an annual basis; scratches from blowing trees or bushes can degrade your panels faster.
By working with a solar installer and conducting due diligence to achieve the product you want, rest assured that your solar panel system will provide you with the sustainability you need for the long haul. Above all, you will find that meeting your homes or business’ renewable energy needs will brighten your bottom line!