How Long Do Solar Panels Last?

Sabrina Lopez
July 23, 2018
3 min read

One of the most common questions is, “How long do solar panels last?” After all, going solar is a big investment that should be analyzed carefully to ensure it’s the right fit for you. This includes knowing how long your solar panels will operate at peak efficiency and what maintenance to expect.

Don’t be fooled by the fragile-looking top layer of glass or put off by the fact that they are exposed to all the same elements that your roof experiences. Solar panel manufacturers have planned for this and have invested countless R&D resources to ensure maximum longevity. A modern-day solar panel's operational lifetime is measured in decades rather than years. In addition, solar panels typically require minimal maintenance to ensure peak operational efficiency throughout their lifetime. Read on to learn more about the durability and maintenance of solar panels.

The Lifetime of Solar Panels

Today’s most popular and efficient solar panels come equipped with a warranty for 25  years, on average. This means the panels are guaranteed to work for decades instead of years, unlike several other "tech" products we’re used to purchasing in the modern era. Even after the warranty period has ended, many panels still produce energy with minimal reduction in their production efficiency. A study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) showed that after the 25-year warranty period, panels still produce energy at about 88% of their original output.

Most solar energy systems have a return on initial investment between 7-10 years. This long life of solar panels pencils well both financially and environmentally. Once your system has paid for itself, you’ll still get clean, affordable energy from them for years!

The Durability of Solar Panels

Weather conditions can also factor into the lifetime of your solar panels. Due to their exposure on roofs, solar panels are subject to many harsh environmental conditions. Fortunately, solar panels are engineered with this in mind and are crafted with high-tech, space-age materials that allow them to easily withstand heavy rain, wind, hail, and, most importantly for us Arizonans, extreme heat. After all, you don’t get to power satellites and the international space station if you can’t take the heat.

The solar cells inside a panel, which are the parts responsible for converting and creating energy, are indeed fragile, but the layers outside the cells help to protect these parts. The protective coatings are even tested against international standards to ensure the panel’s durability. Every solar panel undergoes this rigorous testing to withstand extreme weather conditions. Here at Sun Valley Solar, we only carry the solar brands that meet our high quality and durability standards.

The Maintenance of Solar Panels

Aside from occasional repairs after a storm or the rare electrical connector failure, most solar energy systems will operate fine with little more than regular cleaning. Since the technology has no moving parts, the only possible replacement to worry about over the system’s decades-long lifespan is an aged inverter with an expired 10-15-year warranty.

Regular panel cleanings ensure you get the most out of your solar energy system. If your panels are dirty, sunlight may be blocked from reaching the solar cells, which will negatively impact how much energy you’re producing. Our service team can help you ensure your system is operating at its peak level for years of reliable power generation.

With solar panels lasting decades, that. Contact one of our solar experts for a custom solar quote, or if you aren't quite ready for a quote, you can download our complimentary whitepaper: Is Solar Right for You?