When investing in a solar system, it is normal to inquire about the longevity. There are several components to a solar power system, so it is important to consider everything when evaluating the life expectancy of the overall system.
The first and most obvious part of a solar power system are the solar panels. Some solar panels can last longer than 30 years, but most panels can be expected to perform at optimum levels up to 25 years. Many top-tier solar panel manufacturers warranty their solar panels for 20-25 years. Solar panels are extremely efficient over their lifespan only losing less than 1% of their efficiency each year.
Batteries must be considered when measuring the lifespan of a solar system. There are two main types of chemistries being used for solar power systems – lead acid and lithium iron phosphate. Lead acid batteries can expect a much shorter lifespan than lithium batteries. Around 1500 charge cycles can be expected from a lead acid battery and in some cases 3000 from high-end lead acid batteries assuming they are maintained correctly. In contrast, most lithium battery companies are boasting double the lifespan than their lead-acid counterparts which falls in a range of 6000-1000 charge cycles. The application in which batteries are used largely dictates their lifespan as well. Heavy use and deep discharging continuously will shorten the life of your battery bank. Deep discharging of lead acid batteries drastically reduces their lifespan because the recommended depth of discharge is only 50% compared to lithium batteries at 80%.
Solar power inverters are another component to be considered in terms of overall lifespan of a solar power system. It isn’t uncommon to see 10-year old inverters being used in solar applications. Pushing a system through heavy use all the time shortens the life of an inverter. Much like a vehicle, the lifespan is indicative of how hard you drive it. It is important that the inverter is sized appropriately for the system in which it is being used to avoid over-driving.
In closing, the life of a solar system is ultimately determined on how hard it is being pushed, the operating environment of the system and how it is designed to meet the demand of the application.
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