What is the typical lifetime of solar panels?

Before installing solar panels on a home or business, it is essential to consider several different factors. One of the most important considerations is the investment to be made, and everything related to making an outlay of this nature. In fact, profitability is one of the main reasons (although not the only one) why individuals and companies decide to install solar panels.

To calculate the profitability of a photovoltaic installation, three fundamental factors must be taken into account: the investment, the size of the installation and the elements we need (solar panels, batteries, inverters, etc.). We should not neglect such an important aspect as the useful life of the solar panels, as it is closely related to the performance of the installation over time.

Manufacturers estimate that the average lifetime of solar panels is 25 to 30 years, until that time they can offer the best performance. After that, they still continue to produce electricity, although their power output decreases noticeably. This means that they generate less electricity from the same amount of sunlight they receive.

What aspects can influence the useful life of solar panels?

The main causes of the deterioration of solar panels, and of the progressive decrease in their energy production, are certain climatic factors: rain, wind, ice, etc.

We can also consider the expansion and contraction of the materials due to high or low temperatures. This aspect can cause small cracks to form in the photovoltaic modules, and these can interfere with their correct operation. These small cracks in the silicon cells cause the electrical connections to deteriorate, which reduces the movement of electrons. The end result is an overall reduction in energy production and, therefore, in the performance of the installation.

On a percentage level, experts estimate that solar panels operate at 90% energy efficiency for the first ten years and then 80% for the next 15-20 years. During the rest of their useful life, their efficiency is reduced, although this does not cause the photovoltaic system to stop working, but it does mean that its performance is reduced.

The key question: Can the lifetime of solar panels be extended?

Right now, you may be wondering if it is possible to increase the lifetime of solar panels in order to increase the profitability of your installation.

The deterioration and wear of solar panels is something that cannot be avoided, although we can help to extend their useful life and avoid their premature deterioration. Good maintenance of the whole installation must be an essential aspect to work on in order to extend its useful life.

In principle, the maintenance of solar panels is an easy task to be carried out by specialized technicians. It is also very necessary to carry out maintenance that involves cleaning the photovoltaic panels. In addition to cleaning the panels periodically, it is a good idea to hire an authorized installer or company to inspect the entire system and detect any problems that may cause problems in the future (exposed wires, loose parts, breakages, abnormal noises, etc.).