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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.