Suppose you’re a homeowner who hates paying an electric bill every month and would love the idea of drawing clean energy for your residence. In that case, you might be considering having a solar panel installation put into place.

There are many factors involved in this decision. They can include anything from your geographic latitude and the direction your roof points to HOA bylaws, and how many annual hours of sunlight you get.

Then financial matters for balancing solar panel cost versus power generated, and then diving into payment plans and tax breaks.

One huge question involved in all of this is how long do solar panels last?

How Long Do Solar Panels Last?

Generally speaking, the solar panels available on today’s market should last you for approximately 25 up to 30 years.

Solar PanelJust keep in mind that they won’t automatically stop producing energy for you after that quarter-century is up. They don’t just curl up and die or stop working entirely.

Miraculous as solar panels might seem in producing free and clean energy, they’re like most other things in that they wear down over time, gradually losing efficiency.

If you’re curious about how long solar panels last because you want to make sure they offset their carbon footprint, you can relax. Most solar panels produce enough clean energy to offset their manufacturing costs to the environment within half a year.

In 25 years, you’ll offset that 50 times over, so they’ll offset quite a few other things besides themselves.

What Is Solar Panel Degradation?

Given that most things wear down over time, the process here is known specifically as solar panel degradation. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory looked into hard numbers back in 2012 and found that the typical solar panel was losing around 0.8% of its capacity each year.

Fast forward a decade later, and better technology has come down to 0.5%, with some options being even lower.

After 25 years, your solar panels should still be operating well above 80% capacity and providing you with plenty of juice.

Should You Replace Your Solar Panels after 25 Years?

Even with lower efficiency, it doesn’t mean you should rip out the panels and replace them after 25 years. Physical trackers and apps can tell you how much solar power you’re generating, and if it’s still enough, maybe you should let things be.

If your needs are met, and none of the panels are broken, you can keep extracting power from them even after their warranty has likely run out.

On the other hand, if you aren’t getting enough power or have lots of broken panels, you might want to consider a replacement.

If you’re on the fence about a solar panel system that’s already 25 years old right now, keep in mind just how far solar technology has come in the last two decades when deciding about an upgrade or replacement.

Can You Make Solar Panels Last Longer?

Manufacturers of solar panels do serious testing to make sure their panels can handle hostile weather conditions, including high wind, heavy snow, and hail.

Another benefit to solar panels is how they don’t have many moving parts, if any, so there’s not much upkeep required. Still, they need some care and maintenance if you want them to last as long as possible. Here are three steps you can take:

Regularly Get Your Panels Checked

Much like you get regular dental checkups or roofing inspections to keep things you need working right, your solar panels should have a regular inspection.

These inspections can look for possible problems ranging from exposed wires to loose racking. An industry professional should do this because they know what they’re looking for, and they won’t inadvertently hurt anything while doing the actual inspection.

Keep Your Panels Clear of Debris and Other Damaging Materials

Cleaning Solar PanelsThis is the biggest thing you can do on your own to keep things kosher up on your roof. Your installer will make sure from the start that your panels aren’t blocked by large trees or at risk of branches dropping on them.

However, trees will grow while your solar panels sit in the same spot. It’s up to you to keep them clear for receiving sunlight and free of any debris that might fall from trees.

Clean your solar panels using water whenever you notice they are dirty. In some climates, the wind will dust them off most of the time, and rain might even keep them clean for you. However, sand and dust left on the panels too long might result in scratches and microcracks. Snow can do the same, and even microcracks can eventually grow in numbers and start breaking panels.

Solar panel critter guards are useful in keeping small animals out of the way. Birds, chipmunks, squirrels, and other small creatures might look adorable in your yard, but if they nest underneath the panels, the consequences can be damage to your wires and panels.

Regularly Monitor and Maintain Your Solar Panels

It’s up to you to keep them clean, but it’s also on you to keep up with scheduling the inspections, be they annual, biannual, or semiannual.

Fortunately, modern technology means you can keep up with your solar panel installation efficiency via a smartphone app if you want.

What Other Solar Panel System Components Might Need Replacing?

Even if the solar panels themselves don’t need replacement before 25 years, other parts of your solar panel system might.

Replacing The Racking

The racking that mounts your solar panels might be at higher risk of breaking than your actual panels do. If this happens, the consequences are not ideal.

Your solar panels would possibly lose position and efficiency. Worse yet, they can slip, shift, or fall in ways that risk physical damage to them and even your own home.

The racking system is often drilled into the roof of a home to physically hold panels, meaning it has direct exposure to the elements of nature, including temperature swings and precipitation.

Replacing the Inverter

No matter how efficient your panels are, if the inverter starts losing its capacity, you’re not getting the electricity the panels are trying to generate for you.

Inverter warranties might not be as long as the panels, so be open to getting the inverter replaced with something modern before 25 years pass.

Replacing Your Solar Battery

Solar Battery HomeSolar batteries are often optional add-ons to solar systems that let you store any extra solar power you generate. This means you can generate power during the day for use at night or after you get home from work.

Solar batteries often have a warranty of only a decade, as their optimal performance starts lagging after this point. Like the inverter, consider a replacement long before the panels get swapped out.


The question that probably brought you here was how long do solar panels last? Many of them are warrantied for 25 years and should easily last that long with proper care.

However, even with degradation, you can probably still get better than 80% efficiency out of them even after a quarter of a century. Still, other components, like the racking, inverter, and optional batteries, might need replacement sooner than that.

If you want to simplify your life, schedule your roof replacement for the same time as your solar panel installation. Many tile roof options last about 25 years, too, so timing them together makes things much easier on you.