The time has never been better for businesses to invest in solar. With this year being the last year of the full 30% federal investment tax credit, and with panels and technologies being more efficient and affordable than ever, more and more companies are making the switch to this clean, renewable, non-grid energy. When it can add to your bottom line, improve your company's reputation, and help the planet all at the same time, it's surely a no-brainer.
But as with many new and transformational technologies, there's a lot of misinformation out there that can easily cloud the facts. Some of the most common questions we hear from business owners revolve around the commercial solar panels themselves. After all, the panels are what people picture when they think of solar, and they're also most exposed to the elements when in service. And let's face it, here in the southwest desert, those can be some pretty harsh elements indeed. It's natural, therefore, to have some concerns about what makes this technology tick and how durable it actually is. So, let's pull back the curtain a bit and help you make an informed solar decision for your business.
Solar panel warranties
Today’s top tier and most efficient commercial solar panels come equipped with a linear warranty for 25 years. This means the panels are guaranteed to work for decades instead of years, unlike a number of other "tech" products we’re used to purchasing in the modern era. Even after the warranty period expires, top tier panels still produce energy with minimal reduction in their production efficiency. In fact, 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 commercial solar energy systems have a return on initial investment between 5-7 years. This long life of solar panels pencils well both financially and environmentally. Once your system has paid for itself, your company will still be getting clean, free energy from them for years to come!
Weather conditions can also factor in to the lifetime of your commercial solar panels. Due to their exposure on roofs, solar panels are subject to many harsh environmental conditions around the world. 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 in the southwest, extreme heat. After all, you don’t get to power satellites and the international space station if you can’t take the extremes.
The solar cells inside a panel, which are the parts responsible for creating energy, are indeed fragile, but the layers outside the cells help to protect these parts. The protective coatings are even put to the test against international standards to ensure the panel’s durability. In fact, every solar panel goes through this rigorous testing that ensure they’re able to stand up to extreme weather conditions and hail. Here at Sun Valley Solar, we only carry the solar brands that meet our high standards of quality and durability.
Solar panel maintenance
Aside from occasional repairs after an extreme storm or the rare electrical connector failure, the vast majority of commercial solar energy systems will operate fine with little more than a cleaning (usually provided by rain) during routine O&M checks. Since the technology doesn’t have any moving parts, the only possible replacement to worry about over the system’s decades-long lifespan are aged inverters whose expected life is 15-25 years.
With the 30% ITC coming to an end, 2019 is surely the most important year for solar in more than a decade. Contact a member of our commercial solar team to schedule a consultation and start your solar project today!