A key question when considering going solar is: how long does a solar panel last?
PV solar panels usually have a warranty of at least 20 years. Thin film solar products tend to be less durable than conventional crystalline panels. Warranties for thin film can vary from 3 to 20 years.
After decades of use, the efficiency of solar panels does decrease – most arrays will fall below 80 percent of their original efficiency within 20 years. However, if your panels still produce enough electricity for your needs, then there is no need to replace the panels.
A 2009 study found that solar panels made in 1984 were, on the whole, still generating at least 80 percent of original output. Further, many homeowners claim to still be using solar panels installed in the 1970s. It follows that panels made today are even more durable. However, other parts in a home solar energy system – batteries, inverters – may need replacement every five to ten years.
There are some simple steps you can take to keep your home solar energy system in top condition. Solar panels need unimpeded sunlight to function at maximum efficiency. Be sure to regularly clean your solar panels by removing any dirt or snow. Also clear away any fallen leaves or tree branches.