How Long Do Solar Panels Last?

How Long Do Solar Panels Last?

Having solar panels in your home can help you to get off the grid and become more sustainable.

It’s a wonderful feeling to know that by making use of the sun’s power, you can power up your home.

That said, if you’re interested in installing solar panels, one of the big questions you might have is how long solar panels will last.

What is the average lifespan of solar panels?

Generally, solar panels can last for between 25 and 30 years. That doesn’t mean that they stop working after that time, however! 

Here’s everything you need to know about solar panels and how long you can expect to use them.

We’ll also look at how you can maximize their efficiency so that they can be a real investment.

Can You Use Solar Panels For Many Decades?

Solar Panels On Field

Although solar panels are said to last up to 30 years, that doesn’t mean they will just quit working once they reach that time.

They will still be able to produce electricity, but perhaps not as much as before.

Solar panels experience what’s known as a degradation rate. This rate basically refers to how much of their output will decrease every year.

Generally, solar panels have a degradation rate of approximately 0.8 percent, meaning that their output fails by that amount annually.

That said, as long as the solar panels are protected against various damaging effects, such as debris and wind, you can still use them and even increase their lifespan.

It’s worth remembering that solar panels don’t contain moving parts that can be broken.

They can only be damaged by external factors, so that means that if you install them correctly (such as with the correct rack) and are mindful of weather, then that will go a long way to making them useful for many decades.

How To Increase Solar Panel Lifespan

Following on from the previous section about how solar panels can only really be damaged by external factors, let’s look at things you can do to prevent them from getting damaged so that you can make them last longer.

  • Be mindful of nearby trees. When you install solar panels onto your roof, you will obviously need to make sure that they will be in the correct position to get the most sunlight, but you should also be certain that they’re not in a dangerous position. Are there large trees around that could lose branches (such as during storms) which could land on your solar panels? These should be avoided. You should cut back trees to ensure that your solar panels don’t accidentally get damaged by them.
  • Install solar panel critter guards. These guards work to keep animals, such as birds, away from solar panels. Over time, birds and other animals can nest underneath the solar panels and this can damage the panels themselves as well as their wiring. Critter guards are essentially pieces of metal screening that are fastened onto the sides of the solar panels so no animals can find their way underneath the panels.
  • Get your solar panels a regular check-up. Don’t forget about your solar panels once they’ve been installed. You should have them examined every now and then by a professional who’ll be able to spot potentially damaging issues, such as exposed wires or loose racking, before they become a real problem. While you should always monitor your solar panels yourself to check for issues, you should never attempt to fix issues because this could cause problems with your warranty if you happen to damage the solar panels.
  • Keep them in the sun as much as possible. If even a small part of your solar panel is in the shade, this will reduce its overall efficiency. This is because just one panel contains groups of cells that are wired for increasing their voltage, so if one part doesn’t get sun then the whole part will experience lower energy conversion.
  • Make sure you clean your solar panels. Debris and dust can accumulate on solar panels, causing damage and preventing the solar panels from being able to receive as much sunlight in order to work at their peak. Make sure you regularly clean away any dust on your solar panels with the use of soapy water and a cloth, especially if there hasn’t been much rainfall in your region that would naturally remove dust. The older your solar panels are, the more you should clean away any dirt and grime so that they can work at their best.

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost – And When Do You Recoup Your Money?

Taking Money From Wallet

Tied into the question of how long your solar panels will last is how much they cost to purchase and if you’ll be able to regain your money.

The good news is that the cost of purchasing solar panels has come down quite a bit in recent years: it’s dropped by over 60 percent!

What is causing this?

Researchers (via MIT News) have found that government policies to assist markets all over the globe have played an important role when it comes to decreasing the cost of solar power technology.

That said, you might wonder how long it will take you to earn that money back and actually save money by having solar panels installed.

According to Energy Sage, it will take an average of eight years to get your money back from paying for solar panels.

To find out how long it would take you, you have to take various factors into consideration, such as how much you paid to install your solar panels to begin with and how much you will save on your energy bills by using them.

It’s worth bearing in mind that waiting a bit longer can really help you to make even more savings on your solar panels.

The average saving for homeowners who installed their solar panels 20 years ago is $20,000, as Mental Floss reports.

This is because of the following: not only will using solar panels help to reduce your monthly energy bill but they will help you to increase your home’s value.

By how much, you ask?

The average increase is 4.1 percent in the U.S., which works out to be an increase of between around $9,000 and $226,000, according to a Zillow study. It clearly pays to be patient!

Here’s another way in which solar panels can save you more money:

Some U.S. utility companies have pricing schemes that enable homeowners to be charged differently throughout the day.

The use of solar energy can be useful in regions where these pricing schemes are practiced as the solar power that you can produce would help to offset the costly electricity, as Investopedia reports.

It’s also important to bear in mind that some utility companies will have pricing schemes that change in different seasons.

If you experience higher electricity rates during the summer, for example, you could then save more money by installing solar panels in your home and using them during this time.

Important Things To Consider When Installing Solar Panels

Installing Solar Panels
  • You’ll obviously purchase fewer solar panels if you want less energy for your home, but it’s important to know how much you really need to be sure that your house will be properly powered up with solar energy. Here’s how to calculate it:
  • Find out how much solar radiation your roof gets. Solar radiation is determined by peak hours of sun you get every day. This is not the same thing as daylight hours. For example, even if your house gets 11 hours of daylight, you might only be getting five or six hours of peak sun a day, and perhaps even less than that. The error is thinking that your daylight hours will make solar panels efficient in your home, so that’s why you need to figure out what your solar peak hours are. You can determine your peak sun hours by taking a look at this map on the Solar Direct website. It shows you how many average hours of sun peak you can expect based on the region where you live.
  • When you know how many peak hours of sun your region receives, you can calculate the kilowatts you need. To do this, divide your daily kilowatts that you get from electricity by your peak sun hours. So, if you use 1,000 kWh per month, daily this will work out to be 33.33 kWh. Divide this by your daily sun peak hours. So, if you get six hours of peak sun a day, divide 33.33 by 6 and you’ll get 5.56 kilowatts. This is how much energy you’ll need, as Ecotality explains.

Other Things To Consider When Choosing To Install Solar Panels

Before you go ahead and choose to install solar panels, there are quite a few issues you need to consider.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones that should be taken into account so that they won’t cause you problems in future.

  • You need to consider your roof. Although solar panels can be installed on various types of roofs, their installation might need a bit more labor, which will obviously result in more costs. In addition to the above, if your roof is really old, you should have it repaired before you install solar panels, otherwise you’re already setting yourself up for more costs in the near future. You also need to be sure that your roof can handle the weight of the solar panels.
  • Ask yourself if you’re going to be living in your home for many more years. As we’ve seen earlier in this article, you will need at least eight or more years to start benefiting from real cost savings thanks to your solar panels. If you’re not going to be living in your home for that period of time and longer, then it might not even be worth it to consider installing solar panels because they just won’t be a good investment for you. 
  • Remember that you’ll need a permit! In order to install solar panels on your roof, you’ll need to have a permit because it’s considered an addition to your home. There will also be other local and state rules that you will have to comply with, and you might also require an electrical inspector to approve the solar panels. The cost for solar panel permits will vary from one U.S. state to the next, but generally you can expect to pay a few hundred dollars for the permit and inspection process combined.

Related Questions

Two Men Talking Near Solar Panels

Are solar panels better for the environment?

Solar panels can save you money, but they’re also good for the environment because they decrease the demand for fossil fuels.

Having solar panels means that you can reduce how dependent you are on the power grid.

Can solar panels be recycled?

Solar panels can be recycled and materials that are used to produce them can also be recycled. Some power companies will take your old solar panels and recycle them for you.

How long are solar panel warranties?

The industry standard for solar panel warranties is 25 to 30 years.

A performance warranty means your panels should provide output for their lifespan, while a workmanship warranty covers physical defects during manufacturing.


Having solar panels is an investment that can help you go greener, save money on electricity, and go off the grid.

However, you might ask yourself “How long do solar panels last?” as this is a big consideration.

You’ve spent a lot of money on solar panels and their installation, so you want to be sure you’ll not only get your money back but that you’re making a worthwhile investment.

In this article, we’ve looked at how long your solar panels will last, as well as how to increase their lifespan and what to consider before you install them.

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