Mistei Lighting shares some basic knowledge on the lifespan of solar panels in this blog. The average lifespan of solar panels is about 20 years under ideal ambient and usage conditions. Besides, many external factors could reduce the lifespan. Minimizing use in extreme conditions can help us extend it.
The Presumed Lifespan:
Generally speaking, the average lifespan of solar panels is about 20 years or more under ideal conditions. However, we should know that many external environmental factors often reduce their lifespan. Normally,the lifespan is limited between 10-15 years.
Solar panels, also known as solar cell modules, are a type of opto-electronic semiconductor thin films that could generate electricity from sunlight. It is an assembly of several solar cells on a board and the core part of a solar power generation system. The sunlight shines on the semiconductor p-n junction, forming new hole electron pairs. Under the electric field of the p-n junction, holes flow from the p-region to the n-region, and electrons flow from the n-region to the p-region. After the circuit is connected, a current is formed. This is the solar cells’ working principle of photoelectric effect. There are two ways of solar power generation: one is the light-heat-electricity conversion, and the other is the direct light-electricity conversion.
Generally speaking, the lifespan of a solar panel is determined by its materials. If the surface material is PET, the lifespan will be around 3-5 years; if it’s ETFE, it will be around 5-6 years, and if it’s glass, it will be around 20-25 years. However, we should notice that the term 'lifespan' here does not indicate that the solar panel will stop working after it but the photovoltaic version efficiency begin to fall down significant after it. In other words, after the lifespan, although the solar panel still works and converts sunlight into electricity, its photoelectric conversion efficiency is only 10-20% of the rated.
By the way, some previous studies conclude that solar panels naturally reduce the amount of converted electricity over time. This is called the degradation rate. The median degradation rate is about 0.5%, which means that the power generation of solar panels will decrease at an annual rate of 0.5%.
There are multiple methods to improve the power generation efficiency of solar panels and extend their lifespan. Here are some of them for your reference:
Reduce the use of solar panels in extreme weather conditions. The high or low temperatures at a long term can damage the internal structure of solar panels, which could reduce their lifespans.
Keep the surface of solar panels clean and tidy without debris, dust, or destructive materials covering the surface. Otherwise some scratches will be incurred to block sunlight, and lower down their power-generation efficiency. In addition, the accumulation of dirt, pollen, leaves, and bird droppings in the surface of solar panels can affect their efficiency. Although sufficient rainwater could usually clean solar panels for us, if you find that they are not working at full capacity, you may want to resort to professional complete cleaning.
Ensure that your solar panels are regularly monitored and maintained. Regular maintenance checks could efficiently ensure the entire solar power-generation system could operate at maximum efficiency and prolong the service life of all components, including solar panels, meters, inverters and other components.
Material selection. We’d better select those solar panels made of wear-resistant materials, such as mono-crystalline silicon, which could work for you for a time up to 20-25 years.