How Long Do Solar Panels Last?

How Long Does a Solar Panel Last?

If you’ve been considering solar panels for your home, you’ve most likely wondered about how long your solar panels will last. 

Most solar installers will tell you that your solar panels will last between 25 and 30 years. 

While that’s true, the correct answer to this question has several important aspects that you should take into consideration when investing in a solar PV system. 

In this article, we are going to list out the main factors on which the lifespan of your solar panels will depend on.

The General Lifespan of a Solar Panel

Solar panels generally last between 25 and 30 years. 

When estimating various factors of your solar PV installment, like price, financing, and reliability, 25-30 years is a good answer to start with.

Other factors to be considered include: 

  1. The quality of the solar panels you buy/install
  2. The quality of the installation
  3. The warranties that come with the solar panels, and the guarantees that come with the workmanship.
  4. Your maintenance of the solar panels. 

These are the four main factors play an important role in optimizing the lifespan and productivity of your solar panels.

Below you will find important information on each of these points that will help you in making the best choice for your home’s solar PV installation.

Solar Panel Quality

Not all solar panels were created equal. 

Have you ever heard of “tier 1 solar panels”?

Solar panel quality is categorized into three main tiers. Tier 1, 2, and 3.

There are a few main differences that determine what quality-category or “tier” a solar panel falls into. 

  1. How long a solar panel manufacturer has been manufacturing solar panels.
  2. Whether or not all the parts are manufactured by the same company and under one roof, as opposed to out-sourcing parts of the manufacturing process or buying parts already made by other companies. 
  3. The amount of research and development put into solar power each year.
  4. The warranties offered by the manufacturer. 

While some installers will tell you that the biggest difference is the price, that’s like saying the price is the main difference between a Mercedes and Honda. 

That’s not to say a tier 3 solar panel may not last 25 years, but if you want good quality, reliable, and long-lasting solar panels backed up by a lot of research and a solid warranty, tier 1 solar panels fit that description.

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Quality Solar Panel Installations

As of this writing, the solar industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in America and has been for the last decade. 

Not only is it more and more common to see a house with solar panels on it, but it’s also more and more common to see new solar installers and solar consulting companies pop up.

Like building type project, the quality of the work done has a lot to do with how long it will last. 

While maybe your solar panels themselves have the potential to last 25 – 30 years, if they are poorly installed or if poor equipment is used, they could start to lose productivity sooner than expected. 

The best way to ensure your solar installation is done right is by choosing a good installer. 

To start with, there are two main kinds of solar installers/solar companies. 

The first is solar companies that handle every aspect of sales, design, installations, and support in house. One company that does it all. 

This is the most reliable kind of company because you’ll be able to deal with that one person or one company throughout the entire solar PV installation process, including any aspects of customer support after the installation is finished. 

The second is solar companies that mainly market and sell solar installations, but work with other companies that handle the actual installation of the panels. 

Through white-label agreements, these companies often make it seem like the installation and customer support is handled by them when in fact not. 

When dealing with solar consultants or companies that do not directly handle and/or are responsible for every aspect of your solar installation, it’s important to know that you may end up working with various different companies throughout your solar PV installation, and have a hard time holding someone to a warranty or workmanship guarantee should an issue arise.

Solar Panel Installations, Warranties & Guarantees

Solar installation companies offer various different kinds of warranties and workmanship guarantees.

A solar PV system is an important investment for your home. And while solar panels are very reliable, it’s very important that you get all the information you need, and get all your questions answered about:

  1. Equipment warranties 
  2. Workmanship guarantees

Not to paint a horrible picture, but the last thing you want is to invest in a solar PV system for your home and then have a hard time getting it fixed if it doesn’t work, needing to pay additional funds, or worse, not being able to reach anyone who is willing to take responsibility and help you with your problem. 

Note that most solar installers are very honest and are in the solar industry because, in one way or another they love the subject of solar, its environmental benefits, and the benefits it offers homeowners in terms of reduced electricity costs. 

Nevertheless, with many different warranties and guarantees, picking the best one for your home and your situation is important.

To start with here are some basic questions you can ask your solar consultant: 

  1. What kind of solar installation company are they and do they handle every aspect in-house or do they hire contractors to do parts of the work?
  2. What kind of solar equipment do they use and what warranties do the solar panels come with?
  3. Should there be an issue with your solar PV system, who would you contact?
  4. What aspects is the solar company accountable for after installation?
  5. How long does the solar panel warranty last and what does it cover?
  6. What about the other equipment used for installation, such as the inverters, the racks, and so on? What company makes that equipment and what kind of warranties do they offer?
  7. What workmanship guarantees do the solar company offer and how long do they guarantee their work?
  8. What do you do if the solar PV system isn’t working as it should?

These questions and many more can be asked. Ask as many questions as you need to in order to feel confident that you are making the right choice for your home, with the right solar installer.

Solar Panel Maintenance

One of the many advantages of solar panels is that they do not require a lot of maintenance. I mean, think about it, if they are sturdy enough to last in outer space and power satellites and space stations, they are sturdy enough to sit on your roof and power your home. 

Nevertheless, solar panels do require some minimal maintenance and we have included a quick article here that covers routine maintenance you should do to maximize the lifespan of your solar panels.

Ricardo Del SolArticle by
Ricardo Del Sol
Editor, Expert Solar
(800) 340-0681