solar panel

How long do solar panels last and are they cost-effective?

Solar panels last more than 20 years and they suppose to be a cost-effective investment. Over the last 20 years, solar panel lifespan has dramatically increased. The longevity of panels is only one factor. To be sure if they are cost-effective before you buy and install a solar system do the math. Consider the following issues:

  • How much is the cost of kWh from the utility grid that powers your house?
  • How much kWh is your electricity consumption per month or year?
  • How much is the cost of your yearly consumption from the utility grid?
  • How much do you spend on heating (if it uses power from other sources than electricity)?
  • How much is the cost of the solar system that covers your yearly consumption of electricity?

If you calculate this by having all the above information in the country you live, you will know how long it will take your investment in the solar system to be fully covered. If it is half of the lifespan of the solar cells you install – you are good. If it is less than half of the lifespan of the solar cells you install – it’s great.

It’s not so easy

In most countries loans for improving the energy efficiency and sustainability of homes are available. Somewhere even it’s possible to get state subsidies that partially or fully cover some of the expenses of solar systems loan installment.

Anyway, solar systems are not cheap. But instead to see them as an expense, try to look at your new solar system as a long-term investment.

Besides the above factors, you have to consider before you buy a solar system, there is another important thing. It’s how long the solar panels you plan to buy will last. Typically all types of modern solar panels today have a lifespan between 25-30 years. But you must ask for the warranty that it will be so.

If we take that more realistic expectation would be the solar cell to last 20 years on average, you can count you will return the money spent on your solar system somewhere between 6-10 years. It leaves you 10-15 years of solar cells’ lifespan to save on energy.

Thus, the more solar panels last, the more you will save. Even though, you can save enough to buy a new solar system. In that case, you have 100 percent savings.

Keep in mind that the expected solar panel lifespan of 25-30 years doesn’t mean the panels will stop producing electricity. It just means their energy production will decrease below what manufacturers consider optimal working capacity.

Read the small letters on the warranty

Okay, now we know that solar panels last more than 20 years, optimally 25 years. And sometimes you can get a warranty for the whole period, more often 10 years of warranty. But, household solar panels are only one part of the overall solar system you are to install.

You have to expect that most manufacturers offer shorter warranties for the other equipment of the system. For example, for the racking system, there will be a shorter guarantee. The racks can suffer damage due to weather circumstances more often than the panels it selves.

The other part of the solar system is solar inverters. They usually last between 10 and 15 years. As solar systems’ brains, they have to work hard to convert DC power into AC power we use in our homes. Since the solar system can’t work without inverters, they have to be replaced when out of order.

How to know if the solar panels will last long?

There are several factors you have to keep in mind when you consider the longevity of solar panels. The most important is quality. As a label of solar panel quality, you will see three classifications or tiers: one, two, or three.

Tier one solar panels last 25 or more years. Thus, they have the best quality considering the longevity, and the output and are more eco-friendly. But, they cost more. As we already said, consider it a long-term investment.

There are also unpredictable factors that make impact how long the solar panels will last. Extreme weather, for example, is an unpredictable factor. Extreme wind can cause various mechanical damages. Mostly it is covered by manufacturers’ guarantees.

If you want your solar system to work for many years and to work properly, it is highly recommended experienced installer do the job. It might look easy to put the panels in the racks, but it’s not. If the panels are not properly installed you cannot expect them to last long-term. Plus, if they are not installed and wired by the certified person the guarantee might not cover the possible damage that may occur later.

Many manufacturers work with authorized installing services. They will also take care of your solar system later. Occasional checks up if the system works properly are necessary.

Your job will be regular cleaning of tree leaves and other scattered pieces of waste or remains that may end on your roof and on the panels themselves.