Solar panels have proven to be an excellent investment in many households. You can slowly become independent from the grid as solar is converted into electricity to power your home.
That said, all good things must come to an end – solar panels included.
In this blog, we’ll look at what happens to solar panels when their life cycle ends and answer the following questions:
- What is the average lifespan of solar panels?
- What happens to solar panel end of life?
- Can you recycle solar panels?
- What happens after 20 years of solar panels?
- What degrades solar panels?
- How can I prolong the life of my solar panels?
What is the Average Lifespan of Solar Panels?
Solar panels typically lose their optimal energy production around the 25-year mark. While some solar panels can last up to 40 years, they’ll likely be much less effective than 20 years prior. There’s a six to ten-year energy payback time, which means your total return on investment lasts around 20 or more years.
What Happens to Solar Panel End of Life?
Solar panels usually reach their end of life 25 to 30 years after installation, 40 years in some cases. At this point, a reduction in energy production will be noticeable. Although solar panels can continue converting sunlight into electricity, they will be substantially less efficient.
Can You Recycle Solar Panels?
Once solar panels are no longer functioning, they can be removed and disposed of. The recycling processes include removing the panel’s frame and junction box to recover the aluminum, glass, and copper. Following this, the rest of it is shredded, becoming solid waste.
What Happens After 20 Years of Solar Panels?
On average, solar panels decrease energy production by around 0.5% each year. After 20 years, solar panels reduce efficiency from 100% to 90%. How much this impacts your solar energy savings depends on how much electricity is used compared to how much is produced. Depending on how degraded they are and whether you’re still benefiting from them, you can choose to keep them or remove them.
What Degrades Solar Panels?
Over time, solar panels degrade. While this is a normal and unavoidable part of their life cycle, certain factors significantly contribute to degradation.
- Thermal Cycling. Despite solar power relying on the sun, too much heat long-term can increase surface temperatures and cause a decline in efficiency. Thermal cycling causes fluctuations between extremely high and low temperatures, directly affecting the panels’ soldered connections.
- Damp Heat. When moisture from humidity seeps into solar panels, this can cause water droplets to reflect sunlight away from the solar cells. This can also result in corrosion damage to the panels over time, which impacts electrical performance and shortens their lifespan.
- Humidity Freeze. In climates with moderate to high humidity and cooler temperatures, moisture can get into the photovoltaics (PV) modules and freeze. The built-up frost reduces energy production by creating a barrier between the solar cells and sunlight and leads to mechanical errors as the water expands and contracts as it freezes and thaws.
- Ultraviolet (UV) Exposure. Solar panels protect your roof from the harsh effects of UV rays, but this means they’re taking the impact. In a silicon solar cell, UV light can harm the passivation layers, the underlying silicon, and the interface between them. As a result, surface defects will develop and wear on the solar panels’ efficiency.
How Can I Prolong the Life of My Solar Panels?
The primary way to take care of your solar panels is to schedule regular maintenance. Professional cleaning can remove built-up debris both on the surface and beneath the panels.
Likewise, a technician can inspect your solar panels and batteries to ensure no electrical issues or needed repairs. Installing a solar panel system isn’t a one-and-done step; you need to be proactive in keeping them clean and fixing any issues that arise.
Our World Energy is a Top Leader in the Solar Industry
Solar panels offer an eco-friendly and cost-effective solution for generating electricity- and our team is here to create a new solar-powered generation.
With professional consultation, transparent partnership, and expert solar installations, let Our World Energy get you started on your journey to energy independence.
Call us today at 844-514-1639.