Understanding Solar Panel Degradation: Ensuring Longevity and Efficiency | Topproperty
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Understanding Solar Panel Degradation: Ensuring Longevity and Efficiency

Simon Whitlock
4 Mins Read
Image Credit: Photography by Top Property. Copyright © Top Property.

The Reality of Solar Panel Degradation

Degradation means the reality that while solar panels have a set lifespan, their performance will decrease over time. Why does this happen? Is there a way to combat it, and for how long? Such questions about solar panel degradation are of utmost importance for homeowners who are seriously considering entering the world of solar power. In the following, we will unveil five different scenarios in which solar panels degrade and also discuss how to delay such a phenomenon in a systematic yet effective manner.

Wind Loading and Its Effects

Another source of stress is wind loading: even a light wind flexing a solar panel creates microscopic but cumulative stresses in the panel, which over time can contribute subtly to degradation as well as structural breakdown.

Thermal Cycling: Temperature Fluctuations

Solar panels are also subject to a form of fatigue brought on by cyclic temperature changes. For example, on a typical spring day, a solar panel may be subjected to wide temperature variations, starting at dawn with freezing temperatures and diving into 105ºF just a few hours later. This cyclic heating and cooling places a mechanical stress on the joints and parts of a solar panel, as those joints expand and contract with the temperature change, potentially causing a strain that could break internal connections over time.

UV Degradation: The Role of Sun Exposure

UV degradation is a critical factor, especially in Australia with some of the world’s harshest sunshine. High-quality panels will be installed with better quality panels and protective films that resist UV radiation, while medium and lower-quality options will not and will be damaged more quickly, decreasing their performance.

Humidity and Its Impact

Another major factor for both solar and turbine power is humidity, which is especially acute in the tropics where temperatures combine with high humidity levels to create scenarios that produce condensation (water) on the electrical components of solar panels, corroding and deteriorating the panels’ output.

Freezing Conditions: Water Expansion

In very cold climates, water ingress in the panel components can be an issue, since the physical stresses caused by freezing and thawing can cause degradation.

Maintaining Peak Performance Over Time

All solar power systems will exhibit some level of degradation over time – but how much, and how fast? High-quality systems, installed by reputable companies, will be durable, with components selected for long life and stress-tested for extreme conditions. Such systems will usually endure significantly longer than cheaper, poorer-quality options.


Although the materials used in solar panels degrade naturally, degradation can be minimised with the correct selection of quality equipment and installation.

Key Learnings and Homeowner Insights:

  • Solar panels decline in efficiency because of wind loading, thermal cycling, UV exposure, humidity, and freezing.
  • Quality and durability of solar panels vary, influencing their rate of degradation.
  • Higher quality solar systems offer greater resilience and longevity.

Actionable Tips for Homeowners:

  • Choose solar panels with robust construction and proven resistance to environmental factors.
  • Prioritise quality and durability when selecting a solar power system.
  • Opt for reputable installers with a track record of using high-quality components.
  • Regularly maintain and inspect your solar system to identify early signs of degradation.

A good investment in solar equipment can ensure that your residential solar power system performs at its optimum every year, returning to you several folds what you have invested in it.

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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