The key determining factor for how long your panels last comes down to the quality of the products installed. Quality products perform better, for longer. But how much longer? With solar panels increasing in popularity and affordability over the years, more homeowners are making the switch to save on their energy bills from the utility company while increasing their home value. This article explores some of the major factors that can impact the performance of your solar panels and their longevity. 

Understanding Solar Degradation 

Solar panels are best understood in terms of “how much energy will it produce over time.” Most power production rates will decrease (or degrade) over the life of the system, which is typically warrantied for 25 years. Most solar panels lose between two percent to three percent of their power in the first year. Afterward, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, degradation on a standard solar panel is about 0.5 percent per year. 

Factors that Impact Solar Degradation

Several factors can impact how much a solar panel will degrade. These include the quality of the solar panel, how they are installed, and general maintenance performed on the system. 

Reducing the Amount of Degradation

1. Choosing a Quality Panel

It all starts with quality products. Solar Topps prides itself on providing the best value in solar by offering only premium products at competitive prices.  

Before you sign a contract, request the “spec (or data) sheet” of the panels the solar provider will install on your home. This will show you the Performance Warranty which shows how much power the panel will lose in Year 1, what the annual degradation will be thereafter, and what percentage of the nameplate (initial wattage) the panel will produce in Year 25.  

Let’s use the example from the NREL of a standard solar panel that loses on average 0.5% per year. If we use three percent as an initial degradation rate in Year 1, a system will lose an additional 12% over the next 24 years (24 multiplied by 0.5). In total, over 25 years, a standard panel will produce about 15% less energy than it did when first installed. So, if you were saving $100 with that panel on Day 1, in 25 years, you would only be saving $85.00.  

Let’s run that same scenario but with the premium products that Solar Topps uses. The REC Alpha Pure series of panels degrades about 2% in Year 1. Then, an average of only 0.25 percent per year thereafter, and in Year 25, it will produce 92% of its nameplate capacity. Meaning, if it is a 400 Watt panel, in Year 25, it will be producing 368 Watts. With these premium products, the $100 you started saving with will now be $92 after being installed for 25 years. Each day, each month, and each year that passes, these savings add up and help keep your energy bills lower.

2. Choosing the Right Solar Partner

The right solar company makes all the difference. Some things to look for when looking for an installer would be: 

  • Employs its own teams of engineers, installers and service technicians. 
  • Maintains a single point of contact and accountability during and after your installation 
  • Reduces any downtime you experience if your system has issues once operational 

Since 2009, Solar Topps has been the most trusted name in Arizona when it comes to all things solar. Our team of in-house engineers and installers work together to ensure that each of our systems is installed as intended, to produce maximum power throughout the life of the system. As a result, most of our customers’ systems are overproducing when compared to their initial estimates. This is a testament to our longevity and desire to provide the best value in all things solar, battery backup, and EV charging. 

3. Maintaining Your Solar System 

Solar Panels do not have any moving parts, so minimal maintenance is required. However, aspects that could impact production, like shading from nearby trees or soiling from dust storms, should be dealt with when necessary to get the most out of your system. After any heavy dust or rainstorms, it is advisable to wash your panels using a hose either early in the morning or late in the evening when the system is off. You can do this by just standing on the ground, no need to get up on your roof.

Main Takeaway

Although typically measured in 25 Year terms, not all solar panels are the same. Quality panels produce more energy for longer periods, which helps you save more money on your energy bills long term. Moreover, quality panels typically have better warranty terms so if something does go wrong, you know your system is covered. Solar panels require minimal maintenance, but it’s advisable to keep them free of shade, debris, and soiling to get the most out of them every day. For a free quote on how Solar Topps can help you save the most with your solar panels and have them stand the tests of time, visit our website. 

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