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How Does Solar Work?

How Does Solar Work?

Solar energy is the most abundant energy source we have. If we count up all of the solar energy that hits the earth’s surface, we could power the world 10,000 times over.

This energy abundance is why solar is fast becoming one of the most popular energy sources for homes and businesses alike.

Not only is solar power abundant, but it is also key in combatting climate change. It provides a clean, affordable, and environmentally friendly energy alternative to legacy power sources such as coal-burning and gas.

So how does solar work?

How Does Solar Work

What is Solar Energy?

When people refer to “solar energy”, they are referring to power from the sun that is converted into electricity using solar panels and other technology. Solar can produce both heat and electricity, depending on the technology being used.

Australia in particular, has the highest solar radiation of any continent, making it one of the most fruitful places to employ solar energy. Despite this, Australia has a long way to go to fully embrace this underutilised resource of ours.

Solar energy can power our homes and our businesses with ease. Many solar panel systems can even store excess energy production on sunny days that can be used at nighttime, or on overcast days.

How does solar energy work?

The sun is essentially a giant nuclear reactor that produces energy called photons. These photons travel through space and many eventually reach earth. Enough photons reach the earth’s surface every day that we could meet our energy needs for a year if we captured them all.

You may have heard of PV when it comes to solar panels before, but most people don’t know what it stands for. When photons reach the earth, some are collected by photovoltaic (PV) cells in our solar panels. The energy that this produces creates the electricity that we can then use in the electricity grid.

When photons meet with PV solar cells, they knock electrons away from their atoms. Conductors are attached to both the positive and negative sides of a cell which creates an electric field that is similar to a battery.

There has been, in recent years, a significant rise in the uptake of solar energy, but even with that, PV power accounts for only a fraction of a per cent of the energy consumed in Australia. As solar becomes more affordable and accessible, usage is predicted to increase. Solar energy is the fastest-growing source of power globally and continues to break growth records.

Solar Energy Use Increasing

How does a solar panel produce energy?

PV solar panels produce energy that flows in one direction around the circuit, known as direct current or DC energy. In the same way a battery works, electrons move from the negative side to the positive side, and then back around to the positive side. This movement generates electricity.

There is also a second type of energy production that a solar panel system may be performing, depending on the type. This is called alternating current (AC) electricity. With AC, electrons are sent in reversing directions, always being pushed and pulled to the positive and negative sides of the circuit.

Systems create AC power by spinning a coil of wire beside a magnet. The spinning coil is being turned by solar electricity, which is how it produces power. Several larger-scale solar systems use AC because it is easier to transmit over long distances. Most home solar panel systems, however, produce DC electricity.

What does a solar inverter do?

AC and DC power are not compatible with the same systems, and yet they somehow have to coexist on the same power grids. This is where solar inverters became essential. A solar inverter takes DC electricity produced by most home solar panel systems and converts it into AC power for use on the grid.

These are essential if your energy production is being fed back into the grid, which it often will be. Especially if you are using that feed-in to reduce your energy bills, a solar inverter is one of the most critical parts of your solar panel system.

Solar inverters also provide safety defence, such as ground fault protection. Additionally, they give essential system stats around voltage, current, energy production, and maximum power point tracking.

There are two main types of inverters:

Central inverters

Central inverters have long been the more present type of inverter because home solar panel systems have become more popular.

Micro-invertors

Micro-inverters can optimise each panel, rather than covering an entire solar panel system.

Having each solar panel optimised with an inverter allows each panel to perform at its maximum potential, allowing it to produce more energy. Central inverters, by contrast, can be impacted by a problem in one panel. This impacts the efficiency of the entire system.

Central and Micro Inverters

Can solar panels store energy?

Many modern solar panel systems can store energy using solar batteries. These allow solar panel users to store the excess power on-site. Solar panels will generally produce more than enough power on sunny days, which a battery will then store for use at night or in overcast ways.

This is a great option for people who want to get more ‘off-the-grid’, however, depending on your energy usage and the size of your solar panel system, you may not be able to produce enough power for your whole home all the time.

Most homes with solar panels are still connected to the grid to draw power from when they need it. There is another reason that you might want to remain hooked up to the grid, and that is to sell the energy that your solar panels produce back to the grid.

Net metering allows you to send energy that your solar panel system creates, but that you don’t immediately need back to the grid to be used by other homes and buildings. This is an alternative to having a battery connected to your system and can mean that you save a significant amount of money on your power bills. In some cases, depending on your energy usage and the amount of sun, you may even get a small payment from your energy provider.

Does the weather impact solar panels?

Solar panels rely entirely on photons produced by the sun to create energy, so how does solar work when the sun is hidden by clouds?

Lack of sun does impede a solar panel system’s ability to produce power, but it may not completely stop it. If there is still some light cutting through, solar panels will still capture that and create power. It will just be at a significantly lower output level.

The weather can also affect solar panels in a surprising way. If you think that the perfect weather for solar energy is a warm, sunny summer’s day, you’d be wrong. Solar panels do work best in unobstructed sunshine, but they also operate most effectively in colder weather. As temperatures rise, solar panel efficiency dips, and panels will produce less electricity from the photons hitting the panel’s surface.

On average, solar panels will still produce more power in summer than in winter, despite the heat. Summer tends to have more sunny days, and despite the drop in efficiency, solar panels will still produce more power over the season than in winter.

Will solar panels save you money?

Many factors will impact the amount you can save with solar panels. The first is the weather in your area. How much sun you get throughout a season and a year will impact how many photons your solar panel system can capture and turn into energy. Similarly, how warm it gets will impact how efficiently your system can perform that process.

Whether you choose to use net metering or store your excess energy in a battery is also likely to have an impact on how much money you can save. With either system, you are still likely to need to draw power from the grid on occasion, so your energy bill will be significantly lower, but probably not zero every season.

Will Solar Save You Money

Solar panel systems also require regular maintenance, which will keep them running at a higher capacity for longer. Your solar panel provider should be able to discuss with you your options for a maintenance plan to help ensure periodic checks are being carried out.

The type of inverter you choose to use will also have a significant effect on how efficient your solar panels will be. A central inverter may mean that your whole system loses efficiency when there’s a problem with one panel, whereas micro-inverters can ensure top efficiency for all panels without issues.

In summary

Solar panels are a fantastic investment, and over the long term they will not only save a lot of emissions from energy production, but they can also save you a lot of money. With enough sun, a good maintenance plan, and great solar equipment, you can ensure your solar panel system is always running at high efficiency, producing power, and bringing your energy bill down.

Do Solar Panels Work At Night?

Do Solar Panels Work At Night?

Solar panels are becoming more and more popular as more people begin to see their enormous value. Not only do they make your home more environmentally friendly and sustainable, but they also can save you a huge amount of money on electricity over time.

It’s important when considering investing in solar panels to have a good understanding of exactly how they work and what they can and cannot do. One of the most common questions asked by people who are new to solar panels is: do solar panels work at night?

The short answer to this question of do solar panels work at night is no, solar panels don’t produce electricity at nighttime.

Do Solar Panels Work At Night?

Solar panels need light from the sun to create energy. They can use other sources of light, such as moonlight and street lamps to generate power, but the output is negligible from these sources. Because of this, most solar panels are designed to turn off at night, meaning they will not produce any energy outside of sunlight hours.

So without any energy production, how does solar work at night to keep electricity flowing in your home? Solar panels work efficiently during the day to produce energy, and often produce more power than your home needs. Consider that during the day, when your home is naturally lit and warmed by the sun, you likely aren’t using a lot of electricity anyway. Especially on weekdays where the whole family is at work or school and there’s no one home to use power. This excess power is then stored for later use.

How does your solar panel system store electricity with a battery?

Most solar panel systems have a battery as part of their hardware. This battery stores surplus power produced during the day, which is then available to power your home at nighttime.

There are several different types of batteries with different storage capacities, which impact how much energy you can store and use at nighttime. Some larger batteries allow solar panel homes to operate completely off-the-grid, meaning that they don’t have to draw any external power.

How does your solar panel system store electricity without a battery?

Not every solar panel system has a battery to store energy built into the system. Those that don’t can still take advantage of the excess electricity produced during the daytime using net metering.

Net metering is a system where your excess energy is exported to the power grid for use elsewhere. You are then rewarded with credits that reduce your power bill. You aren’t storing the power your solar panel system produces but in effect selling it.

Net metering is not the right solution for those people hoping to permanently get off the grid, because it relies on the grid to both give and receive electricity. Instead, it works well for those in urban areas who are wanting to live in harmony with the infrastructure around them.

How Net Metering Works Diagram

Do solar panels work when there’s no sun?

Solar panels aren’t producing electricity at nighttime, but what about on days where the sun is hidden behind clouds, rain, or snowfall? As long as there is some UV filtering down, your solar panels will continue to produce energy, just at a reduced capacity.

Rainfall in particular, though it reduces your solar panel system’s output, may still benefit your solar panel system in another way. Rain washes away debris, dirt, and anything else that may be covering parts of your solar panels. This means that next time the sun is out, your panels will be able to work more efficiently.

In Australia, we are lucky enough to live in a country where lack of sunlight is far less of an issue than in other parts of the world. Depending on where you are, your panels are likely to be soaking in plenty of sunlight year-round. If you are in a cloudy area though, the reduced capacity during overcast days does not mean that solar panels are only worthwhile in sunny areas. Your solar panels will still be producing energy, and may even benefit from the cooler temperatures.

In overcast conditions, your system is still producing the electricity that it can from the sunlight available, but it may still rely somewhat on a battery or on the grid to ensure your home is getting the power that it needs.

Factors that impact solar panel efficiency

Several factors impact the efficiency of your solar panels during the daytime, which will then impact how much electricity you have available to use when the sun goes down.

Hours of sunlight

The first is the amount of sunlight that your panels can absorb during daylight hours. Shorter winter days will produce less energy than long sunny summer days. Similarly, cloudy overcast days will reduce output significantly. You can expect output around 10-25% of sunny days with cloud cover.

Daytime temperature

Perhaps counterintuitively, solar panel output is also reduced by very high temperatures. Although most systems are designed to be resistant to heat, productivity does take a hit above around 25 degrees celsius. This means that cloud cover can benefit your solar panel system if it is helping keep the temperature down.

Panel placement

Solar panel placement is another factor that hugely impacts electricity output. Solar panels cannot work at maximum efficiency if they are in a shaded area, and they also can’t be as efficient as they could be if they aren’t placed facing the sun at the hottest part of the day.

Age

Age is another factor that will impact your solar panel system’s efficiency. Systems generally remain at peak efficiency for the first 25 years, with proper care of course. After this, they will generally still function, just at a continuously reducing capacity.

Maintenance

For those first 25 years, you are likely to have some sort of maintenance agreement with your solar panel provider. Proper maintenance is another important factor in ensuring maximum output from your solar panel system. Make sure you are working with your provider to ensure they are doing everything they can, and you are doing everything you can to make sure your solar panels stay in great condition and have maximum energy output.

Factors Effecting Solar Panel Efficiency

All of these factors, plus the capacity of your battery, will have an impact on how much electricity you will have available for use at nighttime. If you don’t have enough power stored, your system will automatically switch and draw power from the energy grid. This will increase your energy bill, so it pays to keep an eye on how frequently this is happening. It could be a sign to look at reducing your power consumption, allowing you to keep your energy costs down.

Are solar panels still worth it if they aren’t producing power at night?

Do solar panels work at night? They don’t produce electricity but they can store and distribute it, or they can sell power back to the grid. Solar panels allow you to run a more eco-friendly home, whilst also saving money on your power bill. Most households use significantly more power in the evenings after the sun goes down, and without your solar panels to produce energy during these dark hours, it’s understandable to wonder if it’s still worth it.

With batteries or net metering to help take advantage of all the excess power your system is producing during the day, your solar panels will certainly still be worth it come nightfall. Batteries or net metering work well for different kinds of homes, and your solar panel provider can help you understand which option is right for you.

Solar panels will also help protect you from the rising cost of electricity because any power that you produce with your system will cost you nothing to use. You may still need to pay for some electricity at nighttime, but solar panels will ensure you pay far less. If you want to pay nothing, you’ll want to consider the efficiency factors we discussed above, and also look at how you can reduce your energy consumption during the daytime and nighttime.

In summary

Do solar panels work at night? Solar panel systems do not produce energy at night, but they are well equipped to ensure that your home is powered while the sun is down, by using either a battery to store power or with net metering to sell power back to the grid.

The amount of energy that is available for use at nighttime is dependent on a range of factors that impact the efficiency of your solar panel system during the daytime. There are factors such as cloud cover, sunlight hours, and temperature that are out of your control, but there are also factors that are within your control. Keeping up with solar panel system maintenance, making sure panels are positioned correctly, and removing any shade over solar panels are all steps you can take to ensure high efficiency. Great solar panel efficiency during the day ensures more energy to use at night and a lower energy bill.

How Long Does A Solar Inverter Last?

How Long Does A Solar Inverter Last?

On any solar panel system, the solar inverter does the critical job of converting the direct sunlight that hits your panels into energy that can be used in your home. Your inverter also keeps the level of energy regulated, keeping the whole system and you safe from power surges. All of this hard work means that your inverter can’t last forever. So how long does a solar inverter last, and when should you look at replacing it?

What is a solar inverter?

A solar panel is one of the three major components of your solar panel system, and it does the critical job of converting and regulating power through the entire system.

How Long Does A Solar Inverter Last

Solar panels capture direct sunlight, which is a form of energy that cannot directly be used by our homes. Inverters convert that energy into energy that we can use.

There are many different types of inverters, some more complex than others. Most inverters these days will also perform other duties such as preventative maintenance, system repair, and power regulation. No matter what type of inverter you have, it performs an important job and requires ongoing care and maintenance to operate safely and efficiently.

If your inverter stops working or malfunctions, your entire system is likely to stop working. Even worse, problems with your solar inverter, if left unaddressed, can cause danger in your home. If an inverter’s regulation capabilities stop working, for example, you leave yourself open to power surges or worse.

How long do solar inverters last?

Your solar panel system as a whole has a lifespan of around 25 years, depending on the type of system and how well you take care of it. Your inverter, however, generally only lasts 10 years. The inverter is a complex system of electrical components, which is why it will eventually stop functioning.

Your inverter is also sensitive to heat, which can have a big impact on how long it lasts. If your inverter is positioned in direct sunlight, or you live in one of the hotter parts of the country, that could mean your inverter has a lifespan shorter than 10 years.

Maintenance is another factor that could impact the lifespan that you get from your inverter. If it’s well maintained and positioned in a cool place, you could expect a lifespan of up to 20 years, but 10 is more realistic for most inverters.

Sungrow Solar Inverter

Indoor vs. outdoor inverters

How long does a solar inverter last when it is placed inside or outside? There are two different kinds of inverters that are designed to be placed either indoors or outdoors. There is often a big difference in cost between the two, as a big difference in durability.

You’ll find indoor inverters are generally less costly than outdoor inverters. They will need to be placed somewhere cool and out of direct sunlight, such as in the garage. If these inverters are exposed to direct sunlight and excessive heat, they are more likely to fail and disrupt power flow. Indoor inverters are also not designed to withstand rain or dampness, so they will need to be installed somewhere dry and out of the elements.

Outdoor inverters, on the other hand, are designed to withstand heat and water somewhat, but you’ll still want to be careful with where you place them. They are typically placed in carports, or on a shaded side of your home. This type of inverter is more durable and can withstand the elements somewhat, but to get the longest lifespan from them, it’s still important that you keep them protected.

Something to be aware of with inverters is that, although excessive heat is likely to shorten the lifespan of indoor and outdoor inverters, it is not going to result in a dangerous situation. If an inverter begins to overheat, it will automatically shut itself down as a safety precaution.

How to maintain your inverter properly

When you are asking the question of how long does a solar inverter last, you inevitably need to consider maintenance. The most impactful thing you can do to extend the lifespan of your inverter, alongside placement, is great maintenance.

If your inverter is placed somewhere like your garage or the side of your house, it’s easy to forget it exists and never check on it. Things like dirt and dust can build up quickly in places like this, so it’s important to clean your inverter regularly to avoid clogs and damage.

You will also need to be careful about what you place around your inverter. Airflow is important for your inverter to stay cool and prevent overheating. Avoid cluttering the area around your inverter so that the air can flow freely and your inverter can regulate its temperature successfully.

Solaredge Solar Inverter

Inpsect your inverter regularly

In addition to regular cleaning and avoiding clutter, you should be doing a more thorough inspection of your inverter every few months. When you do these inspections, you are checking for any signs of serious damage, and any external changes that could cause damage to your inverter. For example, if you notice that your garage is no longer watertight and there is moisture around your inverter, you will need to get that taken care of as soon as possible.

If you do find anything that concerns you during these checks, get in touch with your solar panel service provider. An expert can assess whether the damage is going to affect the functionality of your inverter, as well as whether there is potential for danger because of the damage.

If you have signed on to a maintenance plan with your solar panel provider, you’ll be in an even better position to ensure that your inverter stays in great condition. A service provider will come out periodically to inspect every part of your solar panel system, including your inverter.

This doesn’t mean, however, that you’re off the hook with regular checks and cleaning. Ensure that you take good care of your inverter in-between servicings, and alert your provider right away if there are things that concern you. Don’t just wait until they come for the next service.

What to look out for with your inverter

When a solar panel system does suddenly stop working, the most likely culprit is the inverter. The good thing is that if you familiarise yourself with the warning signs, you can avoid this sudden system failure, and keep your power on.

Solar inverters generally will have a series of lights on them which are designed to alert you if something isn’t right. Check your user manual or get in touch with your solar panel provider if you’d like to learn what your inverter is trying to tell you with its lights.

As a general rule, a green light means that your inverter is operating correctly. A blinking green light means that your solar panels are not receiving very much sunlight, but everything is otherwise working as it should. No light means that there is not currently any sunlight on your panels. This is normal at nighttime or on very overcast days, but if you’re not seeing any lights on a sunny day, this likely signals an issue. If you’re seeing a red, orange, or yellow light, this is a definite indication that there is an issue with your inverter, and that it’s time to call your solar panel service provider.

Solar Inverter Light Explanation

Is my inverter covered under warranty?

You very likely have a warranty on your solar panel system lasting for up to 25 years. This covers the entire system, not just the inverter. The important thing to note about your warranty is that it may not cover your inverter for that entire time. Most warranties cover one replacement over the whole warranty period.

Check your warranty to see what is covered for you, but if you do have to pay for the cost of replacing your inverter once or twice during the lifespan of your whole solar system, it is a fairly easy process.

How long should an inverter last depends on how well you take care of them and what type they are. The cost of replacement will vary widely depending on your provider and the type of inverter you have, so if you want to get an idea of the cost, have a chat with your provider.

Another option you have to offset the cost of replacing your inverter is to look into an extended warranty. This will allow your whole solar system to be covered for a longer time and may afford you more maintenance and inverter replacements over time.

In summary

If you are concerned about the health of your inverter, or you are looking for advice on solar panel systems and inverters, get in touch with an expert who will be able to understand your situation and chat with you about your options. Do not leave problems with your inverter unaddressed. If you suspect it may need servicing or replacing, find out now by getting in touch with a trusted solar panel service provider.

Solar Panel Output: Winter vs Summer

Solar Panel Output: Winter vs Summer

Solar panels are a significant investment, and in summer when the sun is shining everyday there is no doubt that you’ll be getting your money’s worth. But are solar panels less efficient in winter?

Solar panels produce more power in summer, because there is more direct sunlight. Solar panels are however, more efficient in winter because of the cooler temperatures.

There are also a number of tips and tricks you can use to help make sure your energy output isn’t hampered by the colder weather. Taking care of your solar panels in the winter, and understanding the incentives available to you will help you save money on your power bill.

Solar Panel Output Winter vs Summer

Solar panel efficiency in winter

The solar panel output winter vs summer in most locations is a lot more similar than you might think. In most locations, solar panels still function in the winter, just at a lower production level. You can expect a reduction in energy production of about 32% on average due to the reduced sunlight hours and increased cloud coverage.

This is not, however, the end of the story. When the weather dips, solar panels work more efficiently. Solar panels get less efficient in temperatures higher than 25 degrees so winter allows them to produce power more easily. They will still produce a lower overall output generally, because of the reduction in sunlight, but the lower the temperature, the more efficiently your solar panels will work.

Air temperature greater than 25 degrees, which is most summer days in many parts of Australia, decreases the efficiency of your solar panels. In fact, for every degree above 25 degrees, the efficiency of your solar panels drops by 0.5%.

Overall, your solar panels will still produce more power in the summer, but with less efficiency because of the higher temperatures. Winter months, when temperatures are colder, is far better for your solar panels to produce power with a higher degree of efficiency.

Solar panel output winter vs summer: Daytime Hours

From the months of November to February, the days get longer and solar panels can soak up almost 6 hours more sunlight on those long summer days. Conversely, as the days get shorter moving towards winter, your solar panels don’t receive the same amount of light.

The other major factor that influences your solar panel output winter vs summer is the time of day. The angle of the sun’s rays have a significant impact on the power output of solar panels.

In summer, the sun sits higher in the sky, allowing rays to hit solar panels more directly. This results in a higher energy output than in winter, when the sun sits lower in the sky and rays hit the panels at a less direct angle.

During the winter, the sun’s rays also travel a little slower, and by the time the light reaches the solar panels it has spread out and covers a larger area which also reduces the direct rays and decreases energy output.

Average Daily Sunshine Hours For Popular Australian Cities

The impacts of snow

In Australia, very few places have to deal with snow luckily, but there are a few exceptions. So do solar panels work in the winter if it’s snowing? When snow falls and covers areas of your solar panels, it will reduce the output to zero. Snow blocks the light from hitting your solar panel at all, which can make solar panel’s winter output even lower.

The good news is that even if the output is lower, snow won’t damage your solar panels. Solar panels are built to be incredibly resilient and can withstand the weight of snow with ease.

If your solar panel output is being impeded by snow, there is nothing you can do but wait for it to melt so that your solar panels can be exposed to the sunlight again. Clearing snow off your solar panels manually by brushing it off is not recommended. Clearing snow manually can void the warranty of some solar panel brands because of the damage clearing snow can cause.

Because solar panels are dark coloured, and designed to soak up heat, they will melt any snow that’s rested on them quickly. You may lose an hour or two of electricity production, but that will luckily be the only negative impact of snow on your solar panels.

Frost, a more common concern for Australians across the country, is also not harmful to solar panels. Frost also has the effect of blocking rays of light from being absorbed by solar panels. Frost will melt quite quickly in the sun, so the only thing to do when frost coates your solar panels is wait.

How to keep your power bill low in winter

Do solar panels produce less in winter? Yes, but does that mean your energy bill will skyrocket in the colder months? Not necessarily. The lower production can be offset using net metering, or just by rethinking the way you heat your home in winter.

Australian summers generally require an aircon to be running at least most of the day, but in winter there are more options. Heating your home with gas or an open fireplace will straight away reduce your bills in winter.

Impacts Of Snow On Solar Panels

You can also feedback excess energy into the grid and get credits for this power that you can use when the sun isn’t shining. Because you are generally not using as much power in winter as you are in summer when the air conditioner runs all day long you’ll likely have more credits to use at night time.

Using feed-in tariffs

Another great way to reduce your energy bill is to find the best feed-in tariff available. You might have to rely on the energy grid for power during the winter, but feed-in tariffs allow you to take advantage of rebates from utility companies. They will take the energy you don’t use and feed it back into the grid.

These are incentives that are designed to encourage more people to install solar panels, and they can also help you save a lot of money. Different energy providers offer different feed-in rates so it’s important to shop around to make sure you’re getting the best rate possible.

If you find a great tariff rate, your energy bill will be dramatically reduced. You may still have to pay a small amount in winter depending on how much power you use.

Keeping your solar panels in good condition

You don’t need to be too worried about your solar panel output winter vs summer, because the lower output is somewhat balanced out by lower power usage, and higher solar panel efficiency. There are, however, some things you can do to help keep your solar panels in great condition this winter.

Before winter begins, take some time to clean your solar panels, cleaning off any accumulated dirt. Be careful when you do this to only use non-abrasive cleaning products and tools to help preserve your panels.

You can also prune any leaves or branches that overhang your solar panels. This will prevent any scratching and will also allow your panels to capture as much light as possible without any shade in the way.

Keeping Your Solar Panels In Good Condition

Making the most of the winter sun

The sun still shines in winter, especially if you’re lucky enough to live in places like Queensland. It shines for fewer hours in the day, and is generally more dispersed and less direct, which is why even in the sunniest places, output still decreases during the winter.

If you can change the angle of your solar panels during winter, this is another excellent way to capture more light in winter. When the sun is lower in winter, you ideally want your solar panels to face north. You can get even more precise and turn them to the exact right angle for your city by checking with the Clean Energy Council.

Do Solar Panels Work In The Winter

How to achieve energy independence during winter

Energy independence is when you no longer need to rely on the power grid to produce energy for your home. This is trickier during winter when your solar panel’s energy output is lower. A battery can help solve the problem of energy inconsistency by storing excess energy.

With a battery, you can store excess energy produced during sunnier days, and use that power during overcast days and nights. This won’t take you all the way to energy independence, but it’s a big step in the right direction.

In summary

To sum up, solar panels are an excellent investment all year round, despite a decrease in sunlight during the winter. Because solar panels are more efficient in producing power during winter and homes generally use less power during winter, you may not notice a huge difference in your power bill during winter.

How Long Do Solar Panels Last For?

How Long Do Solar Panels Last For?

Solar panels are a fantastic way to cut down expenses long-term, but they do present a significant upfront cost.

You might understandably be wondering just how long your investment in solar panels will last.

So how long do solar panels last for? And will your investment be worth it?

Studies have shown that solar panels will typically last up to 40 years, and will begin to become less efficient after 25 years.

That decrease in efficiency means that after year 25, your solar panels will work at around 80-88% of their capacity.

How Long Do Solar Panels Last For

Solar panels are also generally warrantied for 25 years, which is the period when your solar panels will be working at full capacity. Solar panels can last a lot longer than 25 years with proper care, but they will likely begin to lose function after this time period. This does however, depend on the type of solar panel you have.

Different types of solar panels and how long they last

There is far more than just one solar panel option on the market, and each of them has a different lifespan. There are four most common types of solar panels that you’ll find on most Australian homes.

Monocrystalline Solar Panels

This type of solar panel is on the more expensive side and tends to be more durable than other options on the market. Monocrystalline solar panels lose less efficiency as temperatures get warmer, and will also not be as quickly damaged by these warmer temperatures. You can expect these solar panels to last between 25 and 30 years.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels

These solar panels are some of the more affordable on the market, and because of this they are a little less efficient and will last for a shorter period of time. Polycrystalline solar panels are also less able to withstand higher temperatures, so our hot Australian summers will more quickly decrease their efficiency. They have a life expectancy of roughly 20 years.

Thin-Film: Amorphous Silicon Solar Panels

Thin-film panels are the main budget-friendly solar panel option you’ll find and are generally used for smaller power systems. These panels don’t always suit residential housing because they take up a lot of space in relation to the amount of power they produce. This type of solar panel generally has a life expectancy and warranty of around 15 years.

Moncrystalline, Polycrystalline, Thin Film Solar Panel Types

Concentrated PV Cell

This type of solar panel is highly efficient but is not as good at capturing rays in anything other than direct sunlight. They have an internal cooling system that helps them achieve such a high level of efficiency. They have a lifespan of around 20 years.

If you’re interested in which type of solar panel generally last the longest, the answer is Monocrystalline Solar Panels. Despite being more expensive, they will usually come with a 25-year warranty. This immediately outperforms many other options on the market. They are also highly efficient and are made from high-quality materials so you know if you choose this type of solar panel, you are getting a durable and long-lasting system.

Which part of a solar panel is most vulnerable?

When asking the question of how long do solar panels last, it’s important to understand which parts of a solar panel will go first. There are three main parts of a solar panel system: panels, batteries, and inverters.

Inverter

An inverter is one of the most critical parts of your solar panel system, acting like a railroad switching station for the electricity that flows through your system. When your solar panels are absorbing and producing more than enough energy, the inverter is the thing that sends power into the grid or into your battery.

Your inverter will sometimes be the thing that goes first, depending on factors like heat and humidity. In Australian weather, which is notoriously hot and humid in many parts of the country, your solar inverter will typically last around 10 years.

The main job of your inverter is to keep your solar power system safe and running. Without your inverter to regulate and direct power, your system would be at serious risk of electrical fires, system overloads, and other hazards.

Sungrow Solar Inverter

What if my inverter stops working?

When your inverter stops working, this doesn’t mean that your whole system becomes useless. It can easily be replaced, and you may or may not even have to foot the bill for the replacement.

Whether the cost of replacement is yours to pay depends on your agreements. A solar panel maintenance plan charges you a monthly cost and if you’re paying that, an inverter replacement may be part of your plan. You could also choose to get an extended warranty which could potentially also cover the cost of a replacement solar inverter.

You can also purchase different qualities of inverter, and this can have a big impact on how long they will last. Inverters are such a critical part of your solar panel system, and they do a lot of the heavy lifting in keeping your system safe. For this reason, it’s important to invest in a high-quality inverter. This will also ensure that it will last longer.

You can help keep your inverter in great condition by prioritising the maintenance of your solar panel system. Get your whole panel system serviced every 3-6 months if you can. If you aren’t on a maintenance plan you can at least ensure the settings are correct, clean it frequently, and check regularly to make sure it’s working well.

The final thing that you can do to help prolong the lifespan of your inverter is to ensure your inverter is placed correctly. Heat, direct sunlight, and bugs will degrade your inverter and may eventually cause it to stop working. Your solar panel contractor will be able to discuss this with you and recommend potential options for placement.

Panels

It is likely that you already have an understanding of what panels are. They are what everyone thinks of when they think of a solar panel system, and they do a lot of the heavy lifting of the system.

Solar panels absorb the suns rays and convert it into electricity. In residential properties, they are generally installed on the roof, although you will also often see them in other open spaces.

Panels are usually the longest-lasting component of your solar panel system, and will often last 25-30 years. Panels generally require little ongoing maintenance apart from the regular checks from your maintenance plan. They are also the only part of a solar panel system that is very tricky to replace if something does go wrong.

QCells Solar Panel

Batteries

Your solar panel system battery is there to store the energy that panels produce. Not only does it store and release the energy that your home uses, but it also saves excess energy production for you to use later.

The battery is another part of your solar panel system that is likely to need replacing before the 20-year mark. In fact, they will generally last between 5-10 years. Replacing the battery once during the warranty period will be part of a maintenance plan if you have one.

To sum up, there is no one part of your solar panel system that is likely to stop working first. The environment that your system is in has a big impact on how long it will last, as does a range of other factors.

When will my solar panels need to be replaced?

If you take great care of it and replace the parts that need to be replaced regularly, how long do rooftop solar panels last? You might be surprised to learn that solar panels can last up to 40 years, with capacity and output reducing over time slowly after the 25th year.

This doesn’t mean you necessarily have to keep your solar panels for that full 40 year period. You will be able to chat with your solar panel manufacturer once the warranty period is up so that they can assess the efficiency and make a recommendation about when your solar panels might need replacing.

How Long Do Rooftop Solar Panels Last

How much efficiency will my solar panels lose?

How long do solar panels last for before efficiency starts to decrease? Efficiency does decrease over time, but to what degree greatly depends on your usage, and your maintenance over the years. Keeping up with great solar panel system maintenance is the very best way to ensure your system loses less efficiency over time. Although it will still of course lose some as it ages above 25 years.

Using less electricity at home is another fantastic way to ensure that your system maintains more capacity for longer. Appliances, in particular, use a lot of energy and if you run several at the same time, that causes a significant strain on your solar panel system.

In summary

There are so many factors that help answer the question: how long do solar panels last for. The most important thing you can do to keep your solar panels in good nick for years to come is to educate yourself. Do your research around the type of solar panels and components that will work best for you, and chat with an expert. You will want to ensure your solar panels are placed correctly to get maximum sun, whilst still providing adequate protection from the elements for your inverter.