Does it seem like your solar panels aren’t working as well as they used to?
If so, don’t go buying solar panel replacement parts before you read this comprehensive guide.
You Shouldn’t Need Solar Panel Replacement Parts for 25 Years
Solar panels are designed to be incredibly durable. It’s not hard to understand why. These panels are often mounted to rooftops and forced to endure all manner of abuse from the elements. That’s why solar panels can last 25 years. There are even a number of older models that have been going strong for more than 40.
When the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), did a study on solar panel longevity, they found that the average solar panel among the 2,000 installations they looked at only lost about 0.5% of its effectiveness every year.
Therefore, after 25 years, the photovoltaic parts of a solar panel (which turn the sun’s light into electricity) should still be operating at approximately 88% of its original efficiency.
A loss of 0.5% is on the high end, too. For example, this solar panel is 30 years old and hasn’t lost its capacity nearly as much as the aforementioned average.
All this is to say that you probably shouldn’t need to replace any parts of your solar panel until it’s at least 25 years old. If you do, check your warranty. Most are good for between 15 and 25 years, so if you need solar panel replacement parts before this threshold, they’re probably not going to cost you anything.
How to Tell if You Need Solar Panel Replacement Parts
Long before you install solar panels, you should have done an energy audit of your home to find out just how much energy you’re using. That way, you’d be able to tell how much power you need from your panels.
However, another reason these audits are helpful is because they can indicate when it’s necessary to buy solar panel replacement parts.
If you notice that your utility bill is going up and you have this original baseline by which to judge it, you might find that your solar panels are to blame.
When the Solar Panel Is the Problem
While that’s a good first step toward diagnosing the issue, it shouldn’t be the only one. It could also be that another problem is the culprit, like a draft or old insulation, and your panels are working just fine.
Unless you can tell just by looking at your panels that something clearly needs to be repaired or replaced, the only way of knowing for sure is by checking the output of your solar panels. You should be able to do this with your multi-meter or a voltmeter.
If you notice that your output has dropped, that could be a sign that something is wrong and it’s time to contact solar panel parts suppliers.
Before Moving Forward
In just a moment, we’ll bring up two common scenarios that would require solar panel repair services.
Before you spend any money, though, see if you can first clean your solar panels.
The loss of power you’re experiencing could be because of grime that has built up and is interrupting the sunlight your panels usually turn into electricity.
Even if you have to pay someone to clean them, it will most likely be much more affordable than buying parts for your solar panel and paying to have them installed.
2 Common Scenarios When You Need Solar Panel Replacement Parts
Once you’ve established that your solar panel – or some component in your setup – is not working correctly, there are two common scenarios worth considering.
1. Your Solar Panel Isn’t Producing Any Power
If your panels are completely clean, but you’re still not seeing your normal levels of power, then the problem is most likely that your inverter or charge controller is no longer working properly.
That’s the issue about 90% of the time.
Otherwise, it could be that one of the panels failed. All of your system’s PV modules are connected, so when one fails, the entire system is shut down.
2. Your Solar Panel Is Producing Some Power
If the problem is that your home isn’t receiving as much power as normal – and it’s not because of dirt or shade – then something is probably wrong with the panel itself. It could be operating at a higher-than-normal temperature, which would cause its voltage output to drop. Improving air circulation to the panels should solve the problem.
Otherwise, check for a bad connection. Use a multi-meter to assess the voltage level at different point to find out where the connection is going bad.
Buying Solar Panel Replacement Parts
In either scenario, you’ll most likely need to buy solar panel replacement parts, which can be expensive.
As you probably shouldn’t try installing them on your own, your best bet is to first check your warranty to see if the repairs are covered. If they’re not, speak with a solar panel repairperson. They should be able to get you the parts you need at a reduced price and install them.