How Long Do Solar Panels Last In the UK?
Solar panel installations are becoming a common sight across the UK. From England, Scotland, and Wales all the way to North Ireland, UK homeowners and businesses have embraced the power of the sun to generate electricity. In fact, the UK solar panel installation industry has seen an 18% compound annual growth rate from 2018 to 2023, according to IBISWorld.
However, with the rise in popularity of solar panels brings questions—questions like “How long does a solar panel last?” or “Do solar panels deteriorate over time?” The average solar panel system is an investment, and it’s only fair that consumers know how long their panels will last before needing to be replaced.
Contrary to popular belief, solar panels don’t just stop working once they reach a certain age. They do, however, lose efficiency and power output over time. And certain environmental factors can affect their lifespan as well as efficiency.
In this blog, we’ll uncover everything you need to know about the average lifespan of solar panels and the major factors that come into play when determining the life expectancy of solar panels.
The Typical Solar Panel Lifespan
How long does a solar panel last? The typical lifespan of a solar panel spans from 25 to 30 years long. According to one of the latest studies conducted on the matter, 90% of solar panels have an average lifespan of 30 years. However, this figure varies depending on factors such as the specific type of panel, the panel’s quality, and whether or not the panel is properly maintained. When you think about it, it’s pretty amazing that there are still solar panels, originally installed in 1993, that are still producing power.
In the following sections, we’ll explore the different types of solar panels, their lifespans, and how solar cell efficiency factors into everything.
Factors Affecting the Lifespan of Solar Panels
When determining the average lifespan of a solar panel, we need to consider several key factors. Manufacturers employ these factors to assess their solar panels and gauge their projected lifespan:
● Thermal cycling: The repeated exposure to high and low temperatures during the life of a solar panel, which can range from -40°C to 125°C, can cause the materials used in the panels to expand and contract.
● Damp heat: Exposure to excessive damp heat can accelerate corrosion and other types of deterioration. Although the UK isn’t known for its humid environments, this is a major factor that manufacturers test their panels for during the production process.
● Humidity freeze: What happens when you expose panels to alternating cycles of high humidity and low temperature? It can cause moisture to freeze within the panels. This can potentially lead to mechanical stress, cracking, or even failure.
● Ultraviolet (UV) exposure: UV exposure is a vital factor in evaluating a solar panel’s durability. For example, when a panel is exposed to UV radiation, it can cause the materials used in the panel to deteriorate over time. UV deterioration can cause colours to fade, plastics to yellow, and coatings to degrade. These issues can all play a major role in the lifespan of a solar panel. UV exposure testing is one of the main methods used by manufacturers to determine the degradation rate and/or lifespan of their solar panel products.
Designed with durable, versatile, and high-quality features, our Renogy solar panel divided rigid monocrystalline solar panels, flexible monocrystalline solar panels, and folding solar suitcases meet many different applications. The advanced material enhances cell performance and gives a long service life.
Life Expectancy of Solar Panels & Solar Efficiency
Solar cell efficiency and the lifespan of solar panel systems are interconnected and crucial in determining the overall performance potential (and value) of a panel system. Solar cell efficiency is the ability of solar cells to convert sunlight into usable electricity. It's affected by various factors, such as shading, temperature, and degradation over time. As solar cells become less efficient, the overall performance of the solar panel system decreases, which can impact its lifespan.
A decrease in solar panel efficiency can result in a decrease in the amount of energy produced and a longer payback period for the initial investment. This is why it's important to choose high-quality solar panels with high-efficiency ratings. In that, don't miss out on the opportunity to get to know Renogy. We ensure a longer lifespan of your system and maximum energy production for your home or business. And remember, it’s equally as important to perform solar panel maintenance to keep your panel in optimal condition.
Solar Panel Efficiency Over Time
One of the crucial aspects of solar panel life expectancy is what’s known as the solar panel degradation rate. This is a specific rating used to determine how much a solar panel’s output will decrease per year. In a 2018 study from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the median solar panel degradation rate was 0.5%. With the average lifespan of a solar panel being 25-30 years, this means that by its 30th year, a solar panel will only be producing 80%-85% of what it was generating in its first year of operation.
Although the average lifespan of a solar panel is up to 30 years, this doesn’t mean that the solar panel will simply stop working once it reaches year 30. Solar panels naturally lose a percentage of their ability to generate power each year, and a “lifespan” is a term used to describe when it would be optimal to replace the solar panel due to its decreased efficiency and output potential.
If you’re in the market for a solar system, it’s important to take into account the degradation rate of each solar panel product you come across. Different manufacturers have different degradation rates, which is why it’s important to conduct careful research before making a solar panel purchase. When in doubt, keep an eye out for a low degradation rate and as high of an efficiency rating as possible. For sure, Renogy is equipped to assist you with any solar-related issues you may have. Our blog features in-depth articles on this subject to provide you with the necessary information.