Do Solar Panels Wear Out Over Time? Hint: It is NOT What You Think

Using solar energy for your home and business can be a great energy solution. Installing solar panels will provide a great return on investment over time.

Many people often wonder what the exact lifespan of a solar panel is and ask, do solar panels wear out over time?

This question arises because you want to understand the sustainability of solar panels and compare the primary investment with service.

This article will answer some FAQs regarding this issue and help you understand a solar panel’s power degradation and warranty facilities.

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Do solar panels wear out over time?

Do solar panels wear out over time?
Do solar panels wear out over time?

Yes, solar panels do wear out over time, and they come with a limited lifespan. A modern solar panel comes with a minimum 25 years of warranty, and you will get a 25 to 30 years lifespan from a quality solar panel.

If you check the energy production data of your solar panels, you can find out the degradation rate over time.

It will minimize the efficiency consistently, and after a few years, solar panels produce less energy than before. 

Solar panels wear out over time because of degradation. There are two types of degradation, including the small loss in power production and potential-induced degradation (PID)

The first one causes panel degradation and trivial production loss. 

Secondly, potential-induced degradation is considered the unexpected failure of the solar panels, and the manufacturer’s warranty will handle it.

So, the energy production of solar panels can be reduced with these two types of degradations. The production loss may vary depending on the manufacturers and technology of solar panels.

Do solar panels in storage wear out?

Do solar panels in storage wear out?
Do solar panels in storage wear out?

Solar panels absorb energy from sunlight, and in the same way, the sun or the elements of the solar panels can affect the production and make them wear out. 

A panel is made of silicon cells, and sunlight can change the structure of the chemicals, which reduces the solar panel’s efficiency over time.

Exposure of the elements can bring wiring failure, and moisture can affect the inside of the panel by causing corrosion. 

If you put solar panels in a storage system that will protect them from the weather, they will not wear out, but the energy production will be reduced on a large scale. 

The solar panels will lose their capability as before. So, solar panels will face less damage to climate storage. At the same time, it will forfeit efficiency.

How long can you expect solar panels to last?

Installing solar panels will help you save electricity costs for a long period, and the investment will be returned over time.

Modern solar panels have a minimum warranty of 25 years, and you can expect a 25 to 30 years lifespan from a quality solar panel. 

However, the warranty and lifespan are completely different. A consumer can get a solar panel efficient for 40-50 years if there is no massive change or damage. 

The photovoltaic cells (PV) come with advanced technology perfect for serving this longer period. 

Based on manufacturing testing, a panel can provide you with up to 80% efficiency for the first ten years.

For the next 15 or 25 years, solar panels will face a small loss in energy production. You can notice this change by observing the power production data.

Similarly, the life of a solar panel and its expected lifespan depends on the panel’s quality, installation, and manufacturing process.

You don’t need to “cover” your solar panels

You don’t need to “cover” your solar panels
You don’t need to “cover” your solar panels

If you think that covering your solar panels enhances their existence, you are wrong. 

The manufacturer of solar panels tests every panel in many weather conditions to ensure its outdoor capability. 

A solar panel is designed to work outdoors because it requires access to direct sunlight to operate efficiently. 

So, if you cover a solar panel, it will reduce energy production because of less sunlight. You can use solar panels without covering them.

After installing quality solar panels as your energy source, you can use them continuously in any weather. 

A solar panel can survive and produce energy in winter, wind, or rain. Extreme cold or ice may cover up the surface of the solar panel and reduce its energy generation rate.

At the same time, the rain will clean all the dust and clean it naturally. Just use the panel to get sufficient energy for your home.

Find out the power degradation for your solar panel

You can easily find out the power degradation for your solar panel by analyzing the technical datasheet. 

To prevent degradation, you have to consider the warranty coverage of the solar panels. 

In general, solar panels come with two types of warranty, the product warranty, and the power warranty.

The product warranty covers defects of manufacture that can bring the premature failure of a solar panel. 

A panel comes with 10 years of warranty for its efficiency and a 25 years warranty for the product. 

A quality panel runs perfectly for 25 years as long as there is no unwanted situation or damage.

On the contrary, the power warranty ensures the sufficient energy production of the solar panels. 

If your solar panel doesn’t produce declared energy and the efficiency rate is below the average, then you can claim the power warranty.

The power warranties for popular solar panels in the market in 2020

As we discussed above, solar panels have a product and power warranty. 

In detail, the power warranty comes with two important factors: the length of the warranty and the power output guarantee.

You have to consider the length of the warranty before purchasing any solar panel. 

It will ensure free maintenance from the manufacturer in case of less energy production. 

A quality solar panel should have 25 years or more warranty period.

The efficiency and the listed percentage of the output are covered with the power output guarantee

It will ensure the expected power production from a solar panel. If you notice the massive change, then contact the manufacturer.

Solar panel power warranties have two parts.

The overall power guarantee of solar panels has several parts. 

The manufacturer provides a warranty facility with some conditions, and you can find the details if you read the warranty details. 

A new solar panel might be lost efficiency quickly, and after reaching a certain degradation percentage, it will settle down. This stable degradation remains at least 25 to 30 years.

If you install a Monocrystalline solar panel, it will degrade 3.0% in the first year and continuous power production with a tiny degradation per year.

Besides, the degradation rate depends on the manufacturer and material of the solar panels. Most of the photovoltaic cells lose at least 2% of efficiency in the first year.

List of warranties for popular solar panels in 2020

Now, we present the warranty facility and timeframes for the most popular solar panels in the current market.

NameProduct (years) Power (years)Installation Costs
Canadian Solar CS6K1025 @ 80.7%Not included
Canadian Solar SuperPower CS6K1025 @ 80.2%Not included
Canadian Solar HiKu1025 @ 83.1%Not included
Canadian Solar KuPower1025 @ 83.1%Not included
Hanwha Q.PEAK-G4.11225 @ 83.6%Not included
Hanwha Q.PEAK-G51225 @ 83%Not included
Hanwha Q.PEAK DUO-G51225 @ 85%Not included
LG NeON 22525 @ 88.4%Included
LG NeON R2525 @ 88.4%Included
REC N-PEAK2025 @ 86%Not included
REC N-PEAK Black2025 @ 86%Not included
REC TWINPEAK 22025 @ 80.7%Not included
REC TWINPEAK 2 MONO2025 @ 80.7%Not included
SunPower E Series2525 @ 92%Included
SunPower X Series2525 @ 92%Included
Trina Solar ALLMAX1025 @ 80.68%Not included
Trina Solar ALLMAX M Plus1025 @ 80.68%Not included
Yingli YGE 60 HSF Smart1025 @ 80.2%Not included
Yingli YGE-VG 60 Cell Series 21025 @ 80.7%Not included

What is the difference between 80% and 92% degradation

The main difference in solar panel degradation is the quality and efficiency of the panel. The production rate of a premium quality solar panel remains 92% at the end of the lifespan.

The manufacturer will guarantee this efficiency after degradation, and it is a stable production rate.

On the contrary, the cheaper solar panels reached 80.2 efficiencies after the warranty period and degradation.

The manufacturer ensures this power production at a steady rate.

For example, if you have a 360-watt solar panel from a reputed company, you will get a warranty on 92% energy production after 25 years.

You can understand the measurement clearly with the below table.

Stable PercentagePower Production after Years
92%331 watts
86%310 watts
80.2%289 watts

What causes solar panels to wear out prematurely?

What causes solar panels to wear out prematurely?
What causes solar panels to wear out prematurely?

Your solar panels can face unexpected failure for a couple of reasons. The expected wear-out may come prematurely.

If you consider the degradation rate and other factors such as efficiency, and the stability of production, then you can observe the matter accurately.

If your solar panels wear out before the declared lifespan, the investment won’t return as you expect. It will affect your electricity costs, and you have to pay for the conventional grid too.

However, the main reason for premature failure is Potential-induced degradation (PID).

Potential-induced degradation (PID)

From a technical point of view, potential-induced degradation (PID) is caused by the leakage from the solar cells by a high voltage current.

The sodium ions bring this failure by migrating the glass of the solar cells. The process happens quickly under high temperature and humidity conditions.

PID can damage the complete or partial production in case of extreme temperature. You will get a warranty to solve this problem. Try to read the warranty details while installing solar panels for your home.

Other failures

Your solar panels can face several failures, including delamination, hot spots, wiring failures, glass breakage.

Delamination can damage the surface of the solar panels. A coating protects the glass panel from heat and rain with this lamination.

If you get a damaged laminating part, it won’t produce sufficient energy.

Secondly, wiring failure will prevent the power supply to the battery or inverter. Solar panels absorb sunlight to produce electricity and supply the produced energy via wire from outdoor to indoor.

Thirdly, the surface of the solar panels is covered with thin glass to avoid water leakage. The system will fail if the panel has a broken glass surface.

Is it really important?

Yes, it is important because a premature failure will damage the solar system and might cause you to lose the primary investment.

As a consumer, you want to get a long-lasting service from solar panels.

Similarly, you are converting to solar power to save electricity costs. If your system fails before getting the expected energy, it will be a massive loss in the investment.

The Solar system requires a primary investment that is a little bit higher than conventional electricity.

You have to find a quality solar panel and maintain all the requirements before purchasing and installing solar panels. It will make sure that you are making the right decision.

So, the caution of premature failure will prevent the solar system from wearing out, which is really important. Remember, all the devices will be inefficient or wear out after several years.

Quality testing standards and solar panel longevity

The latest technology innovates high-quality solar panels. Modern solar panels last for a long-time if the manufacturer maintains the industry standard.

IEC 61215 is the most significant industry standard that is mandatory for getting certification. 

These tests are arranged with different criteria, and the manufacturer has to ensure safety measurement.

A panel goes through 19 tests in total to ensure the quality and efficiency of the expected years.

It is better to check the manufacturer’s datasheet to get a quality solar panel and uninterrupted power generation.

Wrapping Up

Altogether, the lifespan and efficiency of a solar panel depending on the quality and stability.

A solar panel lasts for at least 25 to 30 years, higher than other electrical products. You should select a renowned manufacturer to get quality products.

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