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How Long do Solar Panels last ?

Discussion in 'Off Grid Living' started by TnAndy, Feb 28, 2012.

  1. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    Typically, you'll see warranties for PV panels at 20-25 years, and guarantee something like 80% of the original panel rating at that time.

    But since a WHOLE LOT of the solar industry is fairly new, the question is "what kind of degrade can one expect over the years?" is a valid concern.

    Here's a link to an article in Fine Homebuilding that suggests the life span of panels may be a whole lot longer than many think.....that just like a "best used by" date on a can of food, they have to put SOMETHING in the way of a limit if they are going to offer a warranty, but they may be rating them way too conservative.

    The article: Testing a Thirty-Year-Old Photovoltaic Module | GreenBuildingAdvisor.com

    In the article, the author tests 30 year old solar panels he bought about 1980. These ancient ( by today's standards ) Arco brand panels ( bought out by, and now Solarworld ) are still right at 100% of their rated output !

    I took a course over at Appalachian State U at Boone, NC, to get certified for NABCEPT ( the solar installer certification ), and the had some of those old ARCO panels there....we also tested them, and found they too were producing about their rated output, after 30 years.

    In light of the article, and my own observation, I conclude solar panels are probably gonna be good to go for about as long as you want to use them.....in fact, more likely ( assuming the world doesn't fall apart ), the technological improvements in panels to come down the road is what will push the older panels out the door.
  2. Nadja

    Nadja RIP 3-11-2013 Forum Leader

    Most of mine are around the 15-16 year old mark, and still going very strong. So hopeing that they will be around working long after I am gone.
  3. TheEconomist

    TheEconomist Creighton Bluejay Site Supporter+


    I am interested in getting certified to install alternative energy sources. What kind of background/qualifications are they looking for?
  4. CATO

    CATO Monkey+++

    Also, regardless of warranty length, if the company is no longer in business, the warranty will be worthless. (Maybe SquareTrade will branch out? :D )

    So, if your solar panels are of this brand, you might be out of luck regarding warranty.

    Obviously, I'm joking about Solyndra...but, just how many companies are going to be around in 25 years?

  5. Nadja

    Nadja RIP 3-11-2013 Forum Leader

    Kyrocera solar panels are still around and have been for many years now
  6. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    You're right, of course, on that. Take the ARCO panel I was talking about.....I think that company was sold a couple times before it became SolarWorld. And I just assume that most companies making panels today won't be around in 25-30 years to honor a warranty.

    But my point was that may not matter all that much as far as degrade in power output goes.
  7. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    I assume they would want you to get the basic NABCEP entry level out of the way, and possibly have a background in electric of some type ( residential, commercial, etc)....both of those ought to give you a leg up in getting into the industry.
  8. ColtCarbine

    ColtCarbine Monkey+++ Founding Member

    Pending whether I'm back to work or not will depict if I can attend this course. Here's a free course available for enytry level training in my area to give you an idea. Check out community colleges or your locality for solar groups.

    Be aware that you might find yourself amongst greenies when associating with local solar groups. I am not implying that in a bad manner because at least in my area most are good people they just have an obscure ideology on social issues. A lot of them are into sustained living and are living what they preach.

    FREE NABCEP PV Entry Level Training and Exam — Solar Oregon
    larryinalabama and TheEconomist like this.
  9. CATO

    CATO Monkey+++

    I wasn't directing that AT you...more of a PSA for nOObs like myself. ;)

    I figure you already knew that.
  10. larryinalabama

    larryinalabama Monkey++

    Im curioues is there any market for "used" solar panels... I never see any for sale.
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