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Why and how do solar panels degrade?

February 29, 2024


Solar panels are a popular and effective way to harness the power of the sun and generate clean, renewable energy. However, like any technology, solar panels will eventually wear out and need to be replaced. In this article, we will explore what happens when solar panels wear out, how long ...

Solar panels are a popular and effective way to harness the power of the sun and generate clean, renewable energy. However, like any technology, solar panels will eventually wear out and need to be replaced. In this article, we will explore what happens when solar panels wear out, how long they last, and what you can do to extend their lifespan.

How Do Solar Panels Work?

Before we dive into the topic of solar panel lifespan, let’s first review how solar panels work. Solar panels are made up of photovoltaic (PV) cells, which convert sunlight into electricity. When sunlight hits the PV cells, it causes electrons to flow, creating a direct current (DC) of electricity. This DC electricity is then converted into alternating current (AC) electricity by an inverter, which can be used to power homes and businesses.

Solar panels are typically made of silicon, which is a durable and long-lasting material. However, over time, exposure to the elements can cause solar panels to degrade and lose efficiency. This can be due to a variety of factors, including:

  • Weather: Extreme temperatures, high winds, and heavy rain or snow can all take a toll on solar panels over time.
  • Dirt and Debris: Dirt, dust, and other debris can accumulate on solar panels, reducing their efficiency and output.
  • Age: Like any technology, solar panels will eventually wear out and lose efficiency as they age.

How Long Do Solar Panels Last?

The lifespan of a solar panel depends on a variety of factors, including the quality of the panel, the conditions it is exposed to, and how well it is maintained. Most solar panels come with a warranty that guarantees their performance for a certain number of years. For example, many solar panels come with a 25-year warranty, which means they are guaranteed to produce at least 80% of their original power output after 25 years.

However, many solar panels can last much longer than their warranty period. In fact, some solar panels have been known to last for 30 years or more with proper maintenance and care. Regular cleaning and inspections can help extend the lifespan of your solar panels and ensure they are operating at peak efficiency.

What Happens When Solar Panels Wear Out?

When solar panels wear out, they will begin to lose efficiency and produce less electricity. This can be due to a variety of factors, including:

  • Cell Damage: Over time, the cells in a solar panel can become damaged or degraded, reducing their ability to convert sunlight into electricity.
  • Corrosion: Exposure to the elements can cause the metal components of a solar panel to corrode, which can also reduce their efficiency.
  • Delamination: Delamination occurs when the layers of a solar panel begin to separate, which can cause the panel to lose efficiency and eventually fail.

When a solar panel reaches the end of its lifespan, it will need to be replaced. This can be a costly process, but it is important to ensure that your solar panels are operating at peak efficiency to maximize their energy output and save money on your energy bills.

How Can You Extend the Lifespan of Your Solar Panels?

While solar panels will eventually wear out and need to be replaced, there are steps you can take to extend their lifespan and ensure they are operating at peak efficiency. Here are some tips for maintaining your solar panels:

  • Regular Cleaning: Regularly cleaning your solar panels can help remove dirt, dust, and other debris that can reduce their efficiency. Use a soft brush or sponge and a gentle cleaning solution to avoid damaging the panels.
  • Inspections: Regular inspections can help identify any issues with your solar panels before they become major problems. Inspect your panels at least once a year, and after any major weather events.
  • Professional Maintenance: Consider hiring a professional solar installer to perform regular maintenance on your solar panels. They can identify any issues and perform repairs or replacements as needed.
  • Shade Management: Ensure that your solar panels are not shaded by trees, buildings, or other obstructions. Shading can reduce the efficiency of your solar panels and cause them to wear out more quickly.

Conclusion

Solar panels are a great way to generate clean, renewable energy and reduce your carbon footprint. However, like any technology, they will eventually wear out and need to be replaced. By understanding how solar panels work, how long they last, and how to maintain them, you can ensure that your solar panels are operating at peak efficiency and generating the maximum amount of energy possible. Remember to work with a local solar installer to ensure that your solar panels are installed and maintained properly, and to take advantage of the many benefits of solar energy.

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