One of the first questions our install customers ask about solar panels is how long they will last.
For years, the expectation was that solar customers could expect to get 25 years out of their panels. Now, a five year study out of the US Department of Energy's Sandia National Laboratories shows that some can last even longer than that.
Many of our customers are curious about details, so we're going to dig into those for you here.
Solar Degradation Study In Numbers
Sandia's study is based around one key concept: solar degradation rates. Solar degradation is the decrease in power over time, resulting from exposure to UV rays and normal wear and tear. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has measured median solar degradation rates at .5% per year.
Sandia's team deployed 23 solar systems in three different climates to determine degradation. The systems comprised 834 panels manufactured by seven different companies between 1979 and 2014.
The team found an average degradation of .62%/year and a median of .58%/year across the study. Both rates are within the values observed in the past for 1979-2014 panel technologies.
This would mean that 26.1% are exceeding warranty limits and 56.5% show potential to achieve lifetimes beyond 30 years.
What do the Sandia study numbers mean to you?
Consider Sandia's conclusion that over 25% of panels and over half of solar panels manufactured between 1979-2014 are exceeding panel warranties. Considering that conversations about solar panel warranties used to revolve around a 20-25 year timeline, there is cause for optimism.
The cost of solar panels has declined significantly in recent years, making them more affordable for homeowners and businesses alike. In 2010, the average cost of a solar panel was around $6 per watt. Today, the average cost of a solar panel is around $3 per watt. This decline in price is because of advancements in the technology and manufacturing processes. Solar panels outlasting their warranties increases their value even further.
What can you do to make your solar panels last longer?
Increasing solar panel useful life has everything to do with limiting degradation. Here are the variables that affect degradation.
Premium panels last longer than standard panels because they are more efficient, meaning they generate more power. Consider that on average, standard panels have about 16% efficiency and premium panels have about 20-21% efficiency. Additional factors to consider are that premium panels have longer warranties and are more expensive.
Some customers get uncomfortable when they hear the word "maintenance". We'll help: solar panels are very low maintenance when compared to other energy sources that must be serviced yearly and have parts that break or need replaced. If you notice a significant buildup of dust or debris that is not being cleared by rainfall or if snowfall is not melting, we recommend clearing it. If your panels are installed at a tilt, these are likely to clear themselves.
Use a qualified solar installation company
For the last 13 years, YellowLite has provided its solar customers with expert service. We include startsite assessments, quotations, financing, installation, permitting, inspection, and interconnection.
We believe YellowLite customers deserve to make educated decisions based on their individual needs, not one size fits all solutions. We monitor all systems post-installation to ensure everything continues to run smoothly.
We’ve found that many of our customers like to be able to check in on their solar investment returns. That’s why all YellowLite customers receive online monitoring systems to log all the electricity they generate and use.
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