Solar panels are a popular option for Australians who care about the environment and want to turn away from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. But are they smart long-term investments, and if so, how long do they last?
Commercial solar panels are an excellent investment for businesses that can produce renewable energy for them for close to 30 years. However, to get the maximum lifespan out of your panels, they will need to be serviced and cleaned regularly.
We all know that solar panels have an initial investment of several thousand dollars, but we don’t generally talk about how long they actually last, so we’ve taken the mystery out and answered that question for you. Read on to find out how long you will be able to enjoy the benefits of commercial solar systems.
Table of Contents
How Long Do Commercial Solar Panels Last in Australia?
Generally speaking, top-of-the-range solar panels will deteriorate by around 0.5 to 3% every year on average. You can expect a commercial solar panel to last for around 20 to 25 years, but even after this length of time, a high-quality solar panel will still have around 90% of its efficiency.
That means that even after 25 – 30 years, the solar panels will still work. Ultimately the length of time that a commercial solar panel lasts will depend on the quality that you buy. Provided you are getting your solar panels regularly cleaned and serviced; you should be able to get many decades of solar power generation from your panels.
Ultimately, you can get many years of renewable energy generation from your commercial solar panels if properly maintained. Paired with a commercial solar battery, you can save money while doing your bit to help the environment by reducing your carbon footprint.
What Affects the Lifespan of Commercial Solar Panels?
The main factors that affect the lifespan of commercial solar panels include:
- Quality – just like clothes, furniture, or household appliances, higher quality solar panels will last longer and have better output than lower quality ones.
- Installation – It’s important your solar panels are installed correctly by a professional to increase their longevity. The best installers will also offer maintenance so that small issues can be identified before they turn into large ones.
- Maintenance – Getting your solar panels regularly maintained is important for longevity. You might think that sounds odd, given one of their key features is that they are generally low-maintenance. It helps to clean them regularly and remove any debris that has been collected on them. Doing so also helps the sun reach the panel.
What is the Degradation Rate of Commercial Solar Panels?
The average degradation rate of solar panels is around 0.5% every year, so at the end of their lifespan, they generate around 12-15% less power. Degradation is caused by a few different things, predominantly UV rays and harsh weather conditions.
Light induced degradation is one of the main causes of solar panel degradation, but there are three types, such as light-induced degradation, direct light induced degradation and UV light induced degradation.
Potential induced degradation happens if the photovoltaic cells and the frame operate at different voltages. It doesn’t affect every solar panel but will reduce the amount of electricity the panel sends when it is.
Age-related degradation is simply caused by the solar panel being exposed to harsh weather elements over a period of time.
Why Do Commercial Solar Panels Degrade?
Commercial solar panels degrade at different rates based on many factors, such as their quality, how they are installed and the location you are in. With regular maintenance, you can significantly increase the life of your panels.
Quality is a big one. If the solar panel components are low quality, then the manufacturers tend to use less aluminium in the frame, which means the frames are thinner and subsequently more vulnerable to damage. Low upfront commercial solar panels are not necessarily cheaper in the long run.
Panel assembly is related to quality, however, even when a commercial solar panel is made from high-quality materials, that doesn’t mean they’ll always work well together.
They can also degrade because of installation and maintenance. If commercial panels are not installed properly, then the performance will be affected. Although solar panels do not require much maintenance, it is still important to get them checked periodically for optimum performance.
Can You Extend the Lifespan of Commercial Solar Panels?
Yes, with regular maintenance and cleaning, you can extend the life of your commercial solar panels. Poor maintenance is the leading quality to a reduced solar panel lifespan, and regular maintenance can add years to how long your solar panels are effective.
Solar panels are one of the most effective forms of renewable energy and can provide businesses and organisations with clean and sustainable electricity. Solar panels work by converting the sun’s rays into electricity. Unfortunately, solar panels lose efficiency and performance over time. There are steps you can take to increase their usable life.
Clean your solar panels regularly. Make sure that any gunk has been removed from the panel’s surface. Ensure there are no sharp materials near the panels that could damage them. It’s best you check your panels every 2-3 weeks in the summer. If you live in an area with heavy rain or snow, then brush the snow off before it melts.
Get your solar panels maintained regularly to ensure that they are running as efficiently as possible. It’s best that you get them checked annually by a professional to extend their life expectancy.
In extreme weather conditions, keep your commercial solar panels sheltered. Keep on top of the weather by paying attention to weather reports and conditions.
Do Commercial Solar Panels Require Maintenance?
Just like your motor vehicle, you need to get your commercial solar panels maintained regularly, so they perform to their maximum efficiency. The Clean Energy Regulator recommends getting commercial solar panels cleaned every 2-3 weeks and that professionals check on your solar panels at least once a year.
Doing so will help you identify any small issues before they become more serious. You can hire an electrician to check your commercial solar panels.
Maintaining solar panels is fairly simple, but there are a few steps you should follow before you get an electrician out to take a look at it. You should ensure that the solar panels are clean and secure and that there are no on or near the vents. Check that the wiring has not been damaged and that the switches do not have any defects. An electrician will then perform all the electrical checks, such as ensuring that fittings and cables are securely attached, and they will review the inverter display panel to see if there are any faults.
What Happens to Solar Panels After Their Useful Lifespan?
After a solar panel has reached the end of its useful lifespan (usually 25-30 years), it will still generate electricity. However, the panel’s efficiency will be significantly reduced, so not as much power will be generated.
Solar panels are primarily made out of glass, which has a very low resale value, so it is difficult to recycle. This means that solar panels are unlikely to be recycled. However, attempts are currently being made to improve their recyclability.
This article is published in good faith and for general informational purposes only. JFK Electrical does not make any warranties about the ongoing completeness and reliability of this information. Always seek personalised advice on solar energy to ensure any recommendations suit your property and scenario.
John Lyons, the owner of JFK Electrical Solar & Air, started his career in the electrical industry in 1997. With years of experience gained in the industry across multiple continents, he relocated to Australia and decided to specialise in solar and air conditioning. After deciding he wanted to be closer to his family, John began his own local electrical business in Mandurah, using his extensive knowledge and training in the industry. At JFK, John’s number one goal is to provide tailored solutions to his customers. And thanks to his experience and commitment to his customers, JFK Electrical is now one of the most trusted local businesses in Mandurah for solar and electrical services.