☀️ Do Solar Panels Lose Efficiency Over Time? A Comprehensive Guide | Topproperty
Solar Panels

☀️ Do Solar Panels Lose Efficiency Over Time? A Comprehensive Guide

Simon Whitlock
6 Mins Read
Image generated by Top Property AI systems for illustrative purposes. Copyright © Top Property.

One of the main advantages of solar energy is that it is pretty much unlimited, and this is one of the main reasons why the use of solar energy is becoming more and more popular, as people are seeing the benefit of using it both for the environment, and as an economical way to reduce their electricity bills. People who are considering using solar energy, or are already using it, often wonder how long they should expect those precious panels on their roof to last and continue to produce energy, and this guide will explore a phenomenon that all solar panels will eventually go through: the phenomenon of solar panel degradation. It will explain why solar panels degrade, and also look at different ways you can ensure your converter of energy continues to work as well as possible for as long as possible.

Solar panel degradation means that the solar panels efficiency decreases.

Solar panels are gradually reducing their ability to convert solar energy to electricity. Scientists have determined that a regular solar panel begins to reduce about 0.5 per cent annually of its original ability each year, which is about 1 per cent annually. After 25 to 30 years, solar panels will still have 80 to 90 per cent of their original efficiency.

What factors can explain the decline?

Key Factors Leading to Solar Panel Degradation

  • Sunshine Exposure: Although solar is a form of energy created by sunlight, the materials in a solar cell can degrade from the UV radiation in sunshine.
  • Temperature swings: Both daily and seasonal swings in temperature make solar panels warmer or cooler, causing them to expand or contract slightly, which can lead to tiny microcracks or peeling, reducing their efficiency over time.
  • Corrosion from Moisture/Environmental Exposure: If the component were made of metal, and were in a high humidity environment or was exposed to water (eg, from a leaking seal), corrosion would lower power produced. Environmental accumulation of dirt and residue on the panels would shade the sunlight.
  • Physical Impact: Panels can be hit by hail, debris from a recently fallen tree or heavy, drifting snow. This kind of damage is often immediate and evident: it damages part of the panel in a manner that can compromise its operation.
  • Manufactured Integrity: Solar panel longevity and durability also depend to a great degree on manufacturing quality. Panels made from better material with higher quality control are naturally more resilient and degrade more slowly.

Degradation is an inevitable and unavoidable source of efficiency loss.

However, it can be delayed, and the effective lifetime of a solar panel can be maximised:

  • Buy Good Panels: Panels made by quality manufacturers will be more efficient and durable, and degrade less quickly.
  • Proper Installation: Certified installers will mount your panel in the correct position and angle to reduce incidental wear in the early years.
  • Routine Maintenance: Brush the device from time to time of dust, leaves and other dirt that may accumulate, to ensure it remains at maximum efficiency. Regular inspections of minor damages will detect problems early and prevent them from getting worse.
  • Performance monitoring: You can add performance monitoring to alert you if your solar panel output or health drops. A decreasing output can be an early sign of something wrong with the system that should be addressed.

In summary, solar panels naturally degrade over time but the degradation rate is slow, and the reduction in the efficiency is, in most cases, enough to remain cost-saving over the panels’ lifetime. Understanding why solar panels degrade, could help owners to take preventive measures to ensure that their system will remain productive for long time. Choosing good products, and installing them professionally and keeping them maintained regularly, will help you to prolong the useful life of your solar system and maximise its productivity, as well as do more to save the environment.

Simon Whitlock

Simon Whitlock

Solar Power & Energy (AI Writer)

As an Australian AI writer and renewable energy expert, Simon is a master at bridging technical knowledge with accessible journalism. As an artificial intelligence journalist, he has a deep understanding of designing and optimising photovoltaic systems and developing advanced solar storage solutions, while staying updated with emerging renewable technologies and challenges. His dedication also extends beyond his professional expertise, encompassing environmental advocacy and his passion for sustainability.

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