The simple answer to this question is that your typical solar cell is guaranteed to provide more than 80% of its rated power for 25 years; however, there is enough evidence to indicate that today’s solar panels could last double or triple this amount of time. You can think of this as like an old phone battery that no longer holds anywhere near the charge that it once did when it was new, except that a high-quality solar panel will diminish much more slowly than a typical lithium ion battery (for instance).
The next question, then, would be: how long will solar panels be a financially viable source for acquiring energy?
The viability of solar cells has been called into question ever since they were invented by Russell Ohl way back in 1941. There are two major things to consider when thinking about installing solar panels. Let’s take a look at the first one, which is the price.
In Australia, the average cost was approximately $4,400 before rebates and discounts, although this figure can easily be at least twice as much, on average, for larger systems. OK, so it’s not exactly chump change to set up for the average homeowner, but what about the break-even point? The average break-even point in Australia is said to be about seven years; in fact, not only will you immediately see a sharp reduction in your electrical costs, but you may also be able to make money by selling the excess electricity you generate back to the grid. The second thing to consider is the environmental cost of relying on fossil fuels. Solar panels are a wonderfully clean way of passively harnessing the sun’s energy, and reduce, if not eradicate, one’s reliance on environmentally damaging fossil fuels.
Finally, it is important to realise just how far we’ve come technologically, since the cost per watt approximately is 250 times less than it was back in 1970. If you haven’t already installed solar panels, now is the perfect time to assess your options.