Do Solar Panels Lose Performance Over Time?

11 November 2020

  • Share:

Solar panels are among the most durable power generation systems, and those from high quality brands last for over 25 years. However, some degradation and loss of performance can be expected over time, like with any device. Having no moving parts contributes to the long service life of solar panels, since there is no mechanical wear.

Installing a solar array may seem expensive, but operation and maintenance costs are very low after the initial investment. With favorable site conditions and a professional installation, each dollar invested in a solar power system is recovered multiple times during its service life.

Large solar arrays also save thousands of tons of carbon dioxide during their service life. This is especially true in countries where the power grid still uses large amounts of coal generation, such as Australia.

The Importance of Quality When Purchasing Solar Panels

All solar panels lose generation capacity over time. However, the top brands specify a loss limit per year, and a warranty that covers you if performance drops faster. Using low quality solar panels is not recommended, for several reasons:

  • There is a higher risk of short circuits or other electrical faults.
  • They may lose performance very fast, or they may fail completely without any warranty coverage.
  • Your solar array will not be eligible for the incentive programs in Australia, negating any savings from purchasing cheap products.

The exact warranty conditions vary depending on the manufacturer, but in most cases you can expect a 10-12 year warranty against factory defects, and a 25-year warranty against loss of generation capacity. Generally, manufacturers will guarantee at least 80% of the initial generation capacity after a 25-year period.

Getting solid warranties for your solar equipment is an excellent financial decision. Solar power systems in Australia normally have a payback period below 5 years, and in many cases below 3 years. When the system is covered by warranties that exceed the payback period, and the manufacturer can be trusted, the return on investment is guaranteed.

Keep in mind that warranties may be voided due to an unprofessional installation or lack of maintenance. Having your solar array installed and serviced by a qualified provider is strongly recommended. Signing a Power Purchase Agreement can be a good option, since the provider assumes responsibility for financing, operation and maintenance.

How Does a Linear Performance Warranty Work?

As mentioned above, quality solar panels come with a 25-year warranty that specifies a minimum performance of 80% at the end of its term. However, a solar panel that loses plenty of production capacity during the first years will produce less electricity over time. On the other hand, a solar panel that degrades at a slow pace will deliver more energy, even if both reach 80% performance after 25 years.

Solar panels with a linear performance warranty have a constant loss per year, which means their power output drops at a linear rate. For example, you may find a solar panel model with the following specifications:

  • Maximum performance loss of 3% in the first year of operation.
  • Linear performance loss of 0.7% per year, until reaching 25 years.

These solar panels will have 97% of their initial output after the first year, 90.7% performance after 10 years, and 80.2% performance after 25 years. On the other hand, a solar panel that drops to 85% performance in 10 years will produce much less energy over time, even if the output is still 80% after 25 years.

In this case, if you find 20 panels that only produce 88% of their initial output after 10 years, the 25-year linear performance warranty will apply and you will get replacements. On the other hand, a warranty that only offers 80% performance after 25 years will not apply, since the panels have not dropped to 80% output yet.

Even the best solar panels lose performance over time, but this should not occur at an accelerated pace. A linear performance warranty increases your return on investment: your savings increase thanks to the extra production over time.

Conclusion

Power generation equipment has a finite service life, and this includes solar panels. However, the generation loss per year should be reasonable, and you can protect your investment by getting good warranties. The simplest solution is working with a solar company that uses equipment from top brands, such as Solar Bay.

In The News

  • How Food Manufacturers Can Benefit From An Onsite PPA
    Find out more
  • How Corporations With Access to Land Can Benefit From Single Axis Tracking Solar PPAs
    Find out more
  • Choosing Between a Solar Array Expansion and Adding Batteries
    Find out more
  • How Solar Power Can Make Heating and Transportation Greener
    Find out more
  • Why Using Solar Power Is a Smart Marketing Move for Companies
    Find out more
  • Australia Can Reach 100% Renewable Power by the 2030s, According to ANU Research Team
    Find out more
  • How Can High-Rise Buildings Benefit from Solar Power?
    Find out more
  • How Solar Power Watts Are Different From Fossil Fuel Watts
    Find out more
  • The Benefits of a Power Purchase Agreement vs Purchasing a Solar System
    Find out more
  • Why Solar Power Makes Sense Even When Oil and Gas Prices Drop
    Find out more
  • How Australian Solar Incentives Changed Between 2019 and 2020
    Find out more
  • Why Australia Is Ideal for Solar Power in Homes and Businesses
    Find out more
  • The Two Types of Solar PPA: Behind-the-Meter and Front-of-Meter
    Find out more
  • Understanding How Solar Power Is Measured
    Find out more
  • Australian Energy Statistics Show a Favorable Outlook for Solar Power
    Find out more
  • The Success of the Solar PPA Business Model: Lessons for Other Industries
    Find out more
  • When Does It Make Sense to Combine Solar Panels and Batteries?
    Find out more
  • Solar Power Cash Flow: Comparing Different Purchase Options
    Find out more
  • Overview of the Australian Energy Council Solar Report for 2Q 2020
    Find out more
  • Solar Power Benefits for Companies in Western Australia
    Find out more
  • How Business Parks Can Benefit from Solar Microgrids
    Find out more
  • Australia-ASEAN Power Link: Exporting Solar Energy to Singapore
    Find out more
  • How Much Does Electricity Cost with a Solar and Battery Microgrid?
    Find out more
  • How Much Space Do Solar Panels Need?
    Find out more
  • Which Technologies Can Achieve Synergy with Solar Power?
    Find out more
  • Benefits of Solar Power in the Mining Industry
    Find out more
  • How Australian Solar Incentives Change by Region
    Find out more
  • Australia Among the Top 10 Solar Power Countries
    Find out more
  • Tesla Battery Day: Good News for Solar Power
    Find out more
  • Solar Power: Comparing Payback Periods With and Without Batteries
    Find out more
  • How Much Emissions Does a Solar Power System Prevent?
    Find out more
  • Benefits of Solar Power in Embedded Networks
    Find out more
  • Installing Solar Panels: The Importance of Site Conditions
    Find out more
  • Understanding the Ownership Cost of Solar Power
    Find out more
  • IEA World Energy Outlook 2020: Solar Power Is the New King
    Find out more
  • Are Solar Feed-in Tariffs and Net Metering the Same?
    Find out more
  • South Australia Used 100% Solar Power for the First Time in October 2020
    Find out more
  • How Much Does Solar Power Save Over Time?
    Find out more
  • Debunking Three Common Myths About Solar Power
    Find out more
  • Understanding the Three Types of Solar Inverters
    Find out more
  • Benefits of Generating Electricity Onsite with Solar Panels
    Find out more
  • Do Solar Panels Lose Performance Over Time?
    Find out more
  • International Energy Agency: Solar and Wind Power to Surpass Coal by 2025
    Find out more