How Long Do Solar Panels Last in Florida?
Solar panels are a great addition to most homes. Solar offers Floridian’s savings by lowering the electricity bill. However, how long solar panels will last depends on the climate in your area, what you are using them for and how well you take care of them.
Going Solar in Florida: Factors that Influence Module Longevity
Florida is hot and humid. While solar panels produce the most electricity on long sunny days, the reason isn’t the heat; it’s because of the wavelengths of light that the sun emits. On long sunny days, the sun shines longer, which means more light can reach the solar panels. Humidity and heat don’t do electronics any favors, which makes it understandable that Floridians might be concerned about how long solar panels will last in their climate. Thankfully, most solar panels get tested to withstand extreme weather.
Solar Panel Testing
Solar Manufactures test their solar panels to withstand humidity, hail, wind, snow and extreme heat. Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline solar panels have to pass IEC 61215 standards. Three categories this standard tests panels for include electrical characteristics, mechanical load tests and climate tests. These tests also show how the panel performs under standard test conditions(STC). Some of the STC metrics that all solar panels get tested for include power rating, module efficiency and optimal voltage. You can see the results of these tests on the spec sheet for the solar panel you’re considering.
Solar Panel Durability: What Happens After 25 Years?
Solar panels are pretty durable. They’re constructed to withstand the elements for at least 25 years. However, what happens after your solar panels have reached their warranty? Do your solar panels all of a sudden stop working? The truth is that solar panels will last well past 25 years, however, how long after and at what level of performance varies. Some factors that play into the degradation rate of your modules after 25 years are the type of solar panel and the degradation rate that the manufacturer warrantied.
Monocrystalline Vs. Polycrystalline
Monocrystalline solar panels often use pure silicon, while polycrystalline uses fragmented silicon. The differences in this semiconductor provide differences in polycrystalline and monocrystalline solar cell efficiency. Monocrystalline solar panels typically have efficiency ratings between 15 – 19 percent, while polycrystalline panels range between 13-16 percent. Because monocrystalline panels have higher efficiency, to begin with, they have a better chance at a long life.
Importance of Temperature Coefficient in Florida
Monocrystalline-cell longevity increases comparatively in Florida because it typically performs better in the heat than polycrystalline. On average, monocrystalline has a temperature coefficient of -0.3% / C to -0.5% / C, meaning the panel efficiency temporarily lowers by 0.3% to 0.5% for each degree in Celcius it rises.
Solar Panel Failure Rates
Solar panels will eventually become close to useless for the homeowner. Some claim that solar panels will last over 40 years. However, this depends on your intended use and the module degradation rate.
Impact of Intended Use on Solar Panels
If you’re using solar panels as the sole power source for your home, new solar panels may be necessary when the warranty expires. However, if you use solar panels as a backup energy source, they could potentially provide enough power for your needs for much longer. You can also extend your solar array’s life with annual solar panel cleaning and critter guards.
Degradation Rates and Solar Panel Longevity
An NREL study found that the average degradation rate of solar panels is 0.5 percent per year. Solar panel degradation typically ranges between 0.3 and 0.8 percent. This rate probably won’t stay consistent, but it gives a decent idea of how long your solar array will stay operational after the warranty expires.
Are Solar Panels Worth it in Florida?
The quick answer to this question is yes. Solar panels are a great investment for Florida homeowners. Not only because the panels can withstand Florida’s weather but because of Florida’s net metering program and tax write-offs.
Net Metering in Florida
The main electric utilities in Florida include Duke Energy and Florida Power and Light. Currently, these utilities pay net-metered customers for their excess solar generation. This compensation can offset the electricity the customer pulls off the grid when solar isn’t operational.
Florida Solar Write-offs
Floridians who own their solar array get a discount from the Federal Solar ITC. However, the state also provides 100 percent exemptions from Florida sales tax and property tax. These write-offs provide significant solar savings for Floridians.