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How Long Will Solar Modules Last?

What is the life expectancy of a solar module?
 
When customers invest in a solar system, they often wonder how long their modules will continue to provide energy and how much they will yield over time.
 
Over the years, all solar panels will degrade somewhat, but crystalline silicon panels have a much slower rate of degradation than thin film modules. This means crystalline modules will work better for longer. 
 
It’s common for crystalline modules to come with a warranty for twenty to twenty-five years, guaranteeing that the panels will be effective throughout the duration of the warranty.   For a module to be deemed “effective” by most manufacturers, it must operate at least 80% of its rated peak output.  
 
Given the anticipated loss of efficiency between 0.5% to 1% every year, manufacturers are able adjust their warranties according to the calculation of a module’s expected performance over a period of time.  The module’s peak output will usually decline to about 80% at the end of a the two-decade warranty.  This is why crystalline modules are frequently guaranteed for this time-frame. 
 
A solar module does not suddenly become useless, but instead has an output that steadily declines over a number a decades.  For this reason, a well-maintained, high-quality panel will often outlive its guarantee.  Solar panels can continue to adequately operate for a decade or two after their warranties expire.  There are plenty of solar panels that have been producing energy since the 1980s.  If your system is producing enough energy to meet your needs, there’s no sense in replacing these older panels. 
 
Powerboost Solar Panel Cleaner
Solar modules have no moving parts, so they require minimal care to remain functional.  Though other components of a solar system will probably need to be replaced after ten years or so, there are a few things you can do to make sure your solar panels continue to produce energy for a long time.  Be sure to trim surrounding trees that might shade your array.  Regularly remove leaves, snow, or any other debris collected on the modules that might prevent them from receiving maximum exposure to the sun’s light.  You should also clean your panels with some frequency, especially if you live in an area where bird droppings are rampant!  To make this process easier, you can pick up a Solar Panel Cleaning System Kit.
 
Selecting a high-quality manufacturer will also serve you well long-term.   A dependable manufacturer will be sure to encapsulate the modules’ metal and silicon appropriately, ensuring that you’re not working with faulty equipment from the start.  If your modules aren’t securely encapsulated in glass and protected from the environment, they will degrade at much more rapid pace.  The panel must be built to withstand any environmental pressures.
 
Moreover, carefully selecting a manufacturer that will be in business for the duration of the warranty has the potential to save you in the long-run.  With so many solar companies emerging in the last several years, it is difficult to identify which manufacturers will be around for the extent of their given warranties.  Having a trusted name backing the warranty could mean the difference between a system that lasts decades and being left with faulty modules. 
 
If you’re considering Chinese modules, Canadian Solar modules have a twenty-five year warranty on power output.  Canadian Solar has third party insurance company backing their warranties, so you can rest assured that it will be honored.  
 
Sharp ND-240QCJ, 240 Watt Solar Panel

Sharp, a reputable U.S. manufacturer based out of Tennessee, has been around for one hundred years.  Sharpbacks also all their modules with a twenty-five-year warranty on power output.  Given their long-standing reputation, Sharp’s customers can expect that the company will be around to cover their warranty.


Just remember to pay attention to the company who manufactures the modules and their warranties.  Also be sure to keep your array clean and clear of any shading!

 

 

Author: Tom Jackson

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