Installing solar panels for your home can be an environmentally friendly and cost-effective move. With residential solar installations, you can stop relying on your utility company and paying monthly energy bills, while also protecting our environment by powering your home without the use of fossil fuels. But how long do solar panels last on average?
This is one of the most common questions regarding residential solar panel purchases, and understandably so! Purchasing solar panels for your home is a significant investment, and you need to know that your solar installation will last long enough to make it a smart financial move.
With this in mind, you will likely be pleased to hear that solar panels can power your home for decades. There are many variables involved — including the brand and model of solar panels you buy, the climate you live in, how much sun the panels receive, etc. — but in general, your solar panels should be able to produce optimal results for 30 years or more.
It’s important to understand the solar panel degradation rate and how it will affect how long a solar panel lasts. According to 2018 research by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a typical solar panel loses roughly 0.5% of its energy output each year. The quality of panels you buy greatly affects this rate, as some companies that produce solar panels say their degradation rates are 0.3% or even lower.
If losing 0.5% of your solar installation’s output each year sounds like a lot, it’s impressive to look back on how much the typical degradation rate has dropped over the years. Just six years prior to the 2018 study we just cited, the NREL’s 2012 study reported a solar panel degradation rate of 0.8%. That means that in less than a decade, solar manufacturers improved degradation rates by roughly 38%.
So, how long will solar panels last if you buy them today? These days, the typical solar panel will still produce around 90% of its maximum output after 20 years of full-time operation. Theoretically, even a 40-year-old solar installation should pack plenty of punch to power your home, as it should still operate at 80% of its initial energy level. To maximize your solar panels’ life expectancy, you should protect them from environmental hazards like rain, wind, and snow that contribute to degradation rates.
If you’re concerned about the longevity of your planned residential solar installation, you can protect your purchase by buying panels from a company that provides a robust warranty. The typical solar panel sold today has a 25-year “performance warranty,” which ensures that your panels will produce sufficient electricity for at least 25 years.
But how long do solar panels last compared to how long it takes for them to pay for themselves? As we mentioned earlier, this depends on many variables, but generally speaking, you can expect your residential solar installation to pay itself off within 8-16 years compared to purchasing your electricity from the utility company.
Another aspect to consider when evaluating how long solar panels last is whether your panels will degrade fast enough to undermine their energy payback time, which is the time period necessary for a solar installation to produce enough power to outpace the amount of energy required to originally manufacture it. Fortunately, today’s solar panels usually last well past this date, as the typical energy payback time is only a few months.
If you still have questions about how long solar panels last, get in touch with one of our LGCY Power experts today. Not only can we answer all of your tough questions about the life expectancy of solar panels, but we can also help you determine what type of solar installation is the right choice for your home.
If you fill out our 30-second solar questionnaire, we’ll reach out soon to discuss all of the relevant details, including how much money you can save compared to using electricity from a traditional power company and how long you should expect your solar panels to last.