What Is the Average Lifespan of Solar Panels?

There are now more than 2 million residential and commercial solar installations in the US alone. Pair that up with the various incentives and rebates offered by the federal and state governments, and you might think it’s time for your own system.

Of course, you might wonder what you’re getting with a system in terms of the average lifespan of solar panels. Is this like a computer that you’ll only get to use for five years or more like a roof that holds up for a couple of decades?

Keep reading and our guide will cover the solar panel lifespan and the things that affect it.

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Average Lifespan of Solar Panels

Solar panels or photovoltaic panels usually enjoy a lifespan of around 25 years. At least, that’s how long the average warranty for solar panels lasts.

In practice, solar panels can continue working well past that end-of-life date. The caveat is that you’ll see some deterioration in performance over time, which we’ll cover next.

Degradation Rate

Like any sort of mechanism, you see a performance decline over time with solar panels. This is called the degradation rate. On average, solar panels lose a half percent of efficiency each year.

So, after 10 years of service, the panels convert light to electricity 5 percent less efficiently. After 30 years, assuming your system is still in place, it’ll perform at about 85 percent of its original efficiency.

Top-tier panels offer a lower degradation rate, but they come at a higher cost. You must decide if the long-term savings balance out the higher initial price.


The question of how long do solar panels last depends a lot on their maintenance. Solar panels typically don’t require much maintenance on the part of the homeowner.

If you live in a very dusty environment, they might need an occasional wipe with soapy water and a rinse. You should also remove any debris, such as leaves or fallen limbs, and look for damage occasionally.

The system itself, however, should get checked over by a solar company from time to time. This ensures you get optimal performance by correcting any problems early on.


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The other way you get the maximum life out of your home solar panels is with a professional installation from a solar provider. A professional installation ensures you get a valid warranty. Beyond that, you typically get a guarantee on the work from the installer.

Solar Panels and You

The average lifespan of solar panels is roughly double the average time someone owns a home. So, you can put away any worries that the system won’t last while you live in a given home. If you’re installing it on a home you just bought for retirement, there’s a good chance it’ll see you through your whole retirement.

The slow degradation rate means you’ll enjoy decades of solid performance from any undamaged panels.

Looking for more tips on adding a bit of pretty or dash of cool to your home? Check out more of the posts in our Pretty/Cool section.

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