How long will my solar panels last?
Although DECC have recently reduced the guaranteed Feed-in Tariff rate lifetime from 25 to 20 years, the average lifespan of the solar panel modules is 25 years. Some models will continue to function long after 25 years.
Manufacturers offer warranties of varying lengths. On average these consist of:
- 10-year limited product warranty (materials and labour).
- 25-year limited power warranty (typically 10 years at 90% power output and 25 years at 80% power output).
- Workmanship and materials warranty of one or two years.
- Batteries (non-grid systems / hybrids) roughly 5-15 years.
- Inverter(s) warranty of between 5-10 years.
System component warranty
There are many factors that must be borne in mind when considering warranties for you solar panel system. These include the workmanship of your installer and the labour and parts they used, inverter(s) and the solar modules themselves. All of which fulfil the desired requirement of a reasonable power output over the entire life of the system and ensure the return on investment initially deliberated.
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Power storage warranty (Batteries)
If your system is off-grid you must consider the limited warranties of 5-15 years of your power storage solution. The batteries do have limited warranties but as there are no moving parts involved not a lot can go wrong, if there any inherent manufacturing problems with a cell or unit this will most likely come to your attention well inside the warranty period.
Inverters are the single most expensive component to replace in your solar panel system. This is a component that should both be rated correctly to handle the calculated capacity and be of a high enough quality to compensate for the initial high cost. A good quality inverter can last upwards of 15 years whereas a poor quality one will only last 5, with top manufacturers claiming over 20 years usable lifespan!
Solar Panel Insurance – Buildings Cover
Acts of god aside, there are many things outside of your control that can damage your Solar Panel system. From severe hail storms to errant falling trees. It is highly advisable that you contact your buildings insurance company and check if your PV system is covered and also to make them aware that it exists as this is sometimes a prerequisite to the cover. Most reputable insurance companies will insure your PV system for no extra charge, but some may increase it by a negligible amount. If your insurer wont cover you under the pretext that you are a ‘business selling electricity to the national grid’ dont panic, it’s simply time to change your insurer.
Warranty questions for your installer
Make sure you get the answers to these questions before you commit to the installer suggested system.
- What do I do if one or more of the manufacturers of my components goes out of business?
- Who is responsible for each component? The supplier, manufacturer or installer.
- Does any warranty cover removal, shipping and reinstallation of the faulty part?
- Is the warranty an additional or on-going/recurring cost?
Maintenance requirements of a Solar Panel system.
There are also certain maintenance costs of a solar PV System which must be considered when deciding whether to invest in photovoltaic technology. However, since solar panels have few moving parts, the maintenance costs for hardware will remain relatively low.
The one component that will probably need changing over the 25-year lifespan of the panels is the inverter (which converts the DC output of a photovoltaic panel into the AC required by local and commercial power grids), which costs an average of £1000.
Solar panels are exposed to dirt, debris and pollution. For maximum efficiency, most manufacturers recommend that your PV array be cleaned about every six months. This can be done either by you or by specialist window cleaning companies which offer this service from around £25, depending on the accessibility and condition of the panels.
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