What is the expected lifespan of a solar power system?
The key components susceptible to failure are the solar panels and inverter. However, high quality products tend to have long lifecycles which are reflected in the long warranties available, particularly for solar panels.
A solar panel is relatively a simple device with no moving parts. Solar panels typically have 25 year output warranty and depending on the quality of the panel can be expected to last beyond this. Also solar panels which are exposed to wind, fluctuating temperatures and weather do deteriorate and each year produce a little less electricity. Cheaper panels, with less UV stabilized backing sheets, cheaper sealants and framing can deteriorate faster and more rapidly.
LG’s warranties generally predict an average of 0.6% loss of power each year after the 1st year and thus, at the end of the 25 year output warranty period the solar panel may have lost up to 16.4% of its initial power rating. This means is where a high efficiency LG solar panel would produce 315 watts, the same panel in 25 years might only produce 261-269 Watts. In reality, for most less productive quality panels, they may start at 250-260 watts (LG's output after 25 years operation) and then degrade to 200 watts per panel after 25 years. For cheaper panels coming out of China the rate of degradation is much quicker taking 5 years to lose 20%+ of their output capacity. There are cheap panels with rates of complete failure after just 12 months. See Cheap Shoddy Solar Panels
Inverters are complex electronic devices, having to adjust output power every second, inverters are more susceptible to failure although quality brands, which are designed using the highest quality components, are likely to exceed typical 5 year warranty periods. Many manufacturers now offer warranty extensions of 10 years or more. Some cheaper inverters have had a bigger failure rate in Australia after a relative short timeframe than the top quality brands.
Although the cables, safety devices and mounting systems are less influential, the use of poor quality materials can lead to premature system failures. In cases of non branded plugs and cables complete system failures have occurred. Therefore, it could be argued that in order to get a decade of low maintenance solar electricity buy quality solar panels, quality solar inverters and ask for quality balance of components. LG is confident that our panels will give you years of reliable functionality. As of May 2016, just 2 panels have needed to be replaced in over 300,000 panels installed in Australia.
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