What is the Typical Solar Panel Lifespan and How to Extend it?


Solar photovoltaic panels are quite long lasting and many of them installed in the 1980s are still functioning as expected.

They come with performance guarantees and are remarkably reliable. While the industry standard solar panel lifespan is 25-30 years, a solar panel’s power output is bound to decrease over time.

Understanding degradation rates and industry projections will help you plan for future replacements. But the million-dollar question is, how long does a solar panel last?

Life Expectancy of Solar Panels

Solar panels typically last between 25 to 30 years. However, their efficiency continues after this period; it gradually diminishes. Known as the ‘degradation rate’, this is the rate at which a panel’s energy output decreases over time.

On average, a solar panel’s efficiency drops by about 0.5% every year. So, even after two decades, you can expect them to operate at around 90% of their initial capacity. A 2012 study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that solar panels’ output might decrease by 0.8% annually. However, with technological advancements, many modern panels now have a degradation rate of less than 1% in their lifetime.

When choosing solar panels, it’s essential to consider a lower degradation rate, which ensures your panels will be more efficient for extended periods. To estimate a panel’s output in the future, simply multiply its degradation rate by the number of years and subtract from 100%.

What Affects a Solar Panel Lifespan?

The longevity and efficiency of solar power panels depend on various factors.

  • Firstly, warranty coverage plays a pivotal role. While the industry standard for component warranties is 12-15 years, production guarantees often extend to at least 20 years. It’s advisable to opt for companies offering 25-year warranties, ensuring comprehensive protection for your panels.
  • Secondly, the quality of the panels is paramount. High-quality panels not only enhance system performance but also resist severe degradation more effectively. Even though all panels experience some efficiency loss over time, top-tier panels degrade slowly due to superior technology, robust materials, and optimized designs.
  • Installation quality is equally vital. Improper installation can lead to issues like panel displacement or damage. Engaging with a trusted solar installer guarantees precise installation, minimizing potential problems. Some installers even provide quality warranties, addressing issues stemming from installation errors.
  • Lastly, the local climate can influence panel efficiency. While solar panels thrive in sunny environments, excessive heat can diminish their output. Moreover, consistent exposure to harsh elements like hail or strong winds can accelerate panel degradationas well.

How to Extend the Lifespan of Your Solar Panels

Solar panels are known for their durability. Manufacturers conduct tests to ensure their panels can withstand high winds, heavy snow loads, and hailstorms. Since solar energy systems do not have moving parts, they require minimal maintenance.

Nonetheless, it is advisable to keep the system well-maintained to ensure optimal performance. Taking specific actions can help prolong the life of your solar panels. Here are a few steps you can take to ensure that your solar panels last longer:

Perform Routine Checks

Cleaning solar panels with soap water

The first crucial step is to make sure there are no trees that block your solar panels or pose a threat during their installation. With precautions taken against physical damage, these panels can efficiently produce energy for years, often outlasting their estimated lifespan.

While solar panels require minimal daily upkeep, nature does most of the cleaning through rainfall. However, obstructions like accumulated snow or fallen branches can hinder the panels from capturing sunlight effectively. It’s crucial to remove any such debris to maintain peak performance promptly.

To further protect your investment, consider using products like critter guards. These prevent animals from nesting beneath the panels, which could lead to damage over time.

If you observe a sharp decline in energy output or a sudden spike in your electricity bill, it might signal that it’s time for a replacement. Some solar providers even offer apps that notify you about your panels’ health. If you get such alerts, it’s best to consult your installer for maintenance or potential replacement.

Find the Right Equipment and Installer

While the upfront cost of solar can be daunting, there might be better long-term decisions than opting for cheaper panels. Lower-priced panels often result in reduced power production, diminishing overall energy savings, so it is wiser to invest in high-quality panels. They might have a higher initial cost, but their longevity and efficiency ensure more significant savings in the long run.

To offset the initial expenses, homeowners should explore solar incentives. From federal tax credits to state and local rebates, numerous financial aids are available to make solar more affordable. Leveraging these incentives allows you to get superior equipment without breaking the bank.

The installation company plays a crucial role in your solar journey. While solar systems are generally low-maintenance, partnering with a provider offering comprehensive maintenance packages can be beneficial. Doing so ensures your system consistently delivers optimal performance.

When selecting a solar provider, prioritize experience, positive feedback, and a strong reputation. Different companies offer varied panel and storage options. A successful solar expert hinges on the quality of the initial installation.

It’s crucial to work with a reputable installer who offers top-notch customer service and a labor warranty. Furthermore, investing in top-tier panels with substantial warranties safeguards your investment, ensuring defect-free performance for years.

For those seeking the best in Calgary, we highly recommend Panel Upgrade Expert, who partner with highly-trained installers to provide worry-free energy after ten years of experience.


Investing in solar panels is a wise long-term decision. With regular maintenance and choosing high-quality panels from trusted companies, you can expect a lifespan of 25 years or more. While they naturally degrade and become less efficient over time, they usually continue to work beyond that period.


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