How long do solar cells last?

By Sandra Lütken

Marketing Manager – proconsult.as

27 June 2024

Siemens Simatic S7-300

The lifetime of solar cells - what can be expected?

Solar cells can be a good investment - from both an environmental and an economic point of view.

A frequently asked question is: "How long do solar cells last?" In this blog post, we'll dive into what affects the lifespan of solar cells, how long you can expect them to last, and how you can maximize their efficiency over time.

Expected lifetime of solar cells

Modern solar cells and solar inverters are designed to last a long time.

Most manufacturers offer warranties of 20-25 years, but many systems can operate effectively for 30 years or more.

This is partly because technology has generally improved. This means that today's solar cells can maintain a high performance over a longer period.

lifetime of solar cells

What determines the lifespan of solar cells?

  • The material: Solar cells are made of high quality materials tend to last longer. Monocrystalline solar cells, for example, are known for their durability and high efficiency1.
  • The installation: A good and professional installation ensures that the system is correctly mounted and protected against weather conditions and other potential damage as best as possible.
  • Maintenance: Regular maintenance and inspection can prevent problems before they occur. Cleaning the panels and checking the electrical connections is also important to prolong the life.

If you think about the above when purchasing and installing, you can extend the life of your solar cells and your solar inverter.

Technology development and improvements

Solar cell technology is constantly evolving. New materials and manufacturing methods improve the durability and efficiency of solar panels.

For example, today there are solar cells with self-cleaning surfaces that reduce the need for maintenance. In addition, the electrical components, especially solar inverters, have also become more reliable and long-lasting.

Solar cell performance over time

Although solar cells have a long lifespan, their efficiency will gradually decrease over time. This is called degradation. Most solar cells experience an annual degradation of around 0.5-1%. Therefore, you will still have a fairly efficient plant even after 20 years.

How to extend the life of solar cells

There are several things you can do to maximize the life and performance of your solar cells:

  • Regular cleaning: Keep the panels clean of dust and dirt. It ensures maximum absorption of light and thus provides more efficiency.
  • Maintenance: Continuously monitor the solar cells and solar inverter to detect and correct potential problems such as loose connections or damage. Also pay attention to trees and other vegetation near the solar cells, as these can grow over the years and shade or hit the solar cells in windy weather.
  • Protect against extreme weather conditions: If possible, install protection against extreme weather conditions that could damage the panels.

Economic lifetime of solar cells

In addition to the technical lifetime, there is also the economic lifetime to consider. That is, the period when the solar cells produce enough energy to be cost-effective. An investment in solar cells can be immediately paid back in 5-10 years. This is because solar cell installations are becoming cheaper as well as the current energy prices. The solar cells are therefore profitable for several years thereafter.

The lifetime of the solar inverter

The solar inverter plays a major role in a solar system. It is therefore at least as important to maintain your solar inverter as your solar cells. The lifespan of solar inverters is typically 10-20 years, but just like with solar cells, the lifespan depends on maintenance and weather conditions. It may therefore be a good idea to have your solar inverter inspected after 7-10 years, depending on the make.

Read more about repair of solar inverters.

The age of solar cells

Solar cells are a long-term investment that can provide significant savings on the energy bill and contribute to a sustainable future. With proper installation, maintenance and consideration of environmental factors, solar cells can operate efficiently for 25 years or more. If you make sure to do the things we have described in the article, you can maximize the yield of your solar cells.