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So, you made the brave jump to solar a while ago, and you’re looking at your system and deciding whether it is time to replace your solar system for something newer.. but how do you know when it is time to replace your solar panels and inverter?
Over the 10+ years your solar panels may have been on your roof, they have been there in rain, hail, or shine and continued to produce
energy over time. Here are a few ways to know if it’s time to replace or upgrade your solar system.
Solar panels typically have warranties from 20-25 years, but over time they lose their efficiency which reduces your return-on-investment as time continues.
Each year that passes, a solar panel can lose around 0.5-1% efficiency (depending on the age), and older panels can lose the majority of their output capability. (Good-quality, modern solar panels can retain up to 90% of their efficiency over the course of their lifetime with approximately 0.5% reductions each year).
Depending on when your solar system was installed, you may have access to some sort of solar analytics to see insightful analytics of your systems’ overall performance. This would be a good way to visualise the production trends your solar system is heading in, whether it is a stable decline, or a dramatic one.
You can keep an eye on your energy performance and if you're unsatisfied with the system’s output, it can be an indication to upgrade your system, or replace it entirely.
If you have had your system for years on end, there will be a chance that your solar panels have been damaged in some way. The
last generation of solar panels are more prone to damage as they lack the modern protection technology that new panels have.
Newer and some older solar panels are designed to withstand decades of abuse but suffer in various types of weather, and other various elements such as wind, humidity, UV, or thermal stress.
Thermal cycling amongst others is a common form of deterioration, especially in Australia’s summer exposing the panels to harsh
sunlight. The heat forces the panels’ metal components to expand and contract as everyday goes past, and over a decade it can really add
With high wind, the dynamic mechanical load capacity can force the panels to warp and bulge in the middle.
Trina conducted a test of their 530 W and 670 W panels here.
UV Radiation can cause damage to the passivation layers over time, with maximum
degradation rates of 0.12% - 0.73% per year.
Humidity is closely joined to thermal cycling where older panels expand, allowing moisture to get inside the panels where it can cause metal corrosion, delamination, and increased overall degradation.
Okay so we’ve identified if your system needs upgrading, but what do you do now? How do we fix it?
You’ve had a look at your solar system analytics, and from what you can see there isn’t a huge decrease in system performance, but you’re wanting to recoup the reduced performance and get it back to where it used to be.
You can consider extending your existing solar system by adding more panels. It’s a simple strategy, but it would allow you to generate close to your existing system’s original output and wouldn’t cost you as much to replace the entire system.
However, there might be some system compatibility issues in combining modern with older technology.
If your panels aren’t that old but you see a significant decline in performance, this could possibly be because your system hasn’t been cleaned. We recommend cleaning your solar panels once every 6-months to ensure your system is as productive as possible. We made a full guide on how to clean your solar panels here.
If you’re still unsure on what your next step should be, don’t over-think it! We provide solar health checkups and free consultation on how you can get the most of your system and property.
The good news is that you definitely have options. We genuinely would like to help in finding the best solution for you, your budget, and your property. If you’d like to have a chat, we provide completely free consultation on finding the optimal energy solutions.
Below are some options simplified into 4 categories, however there may be more for your property that we can talk about.
Add a solar battery to store excess solar power throughout the day. Whether your solar
system is at its original installation capacity or an older system, depending on your consumption you may still be producing more than
you’re using. Storing this extra energy can be used in the night or in times of grid failure.
You could also completely replace your entire solar system by replacing your solar panels, mounting, and inverter for a top-of-the-line system that will last another 25-30 years.
The cheapest way to upgrade your system would be to add more solar panels.
Depending on your systems’ size, you could add a few more panels to increase your overall production.
Your solar and battery system is a couple of years’ old, and you can see a dip in performance but it’s not financially viable to replace the entire system. You could expand your system, but there is also a way to not just save but earn with your system. We recommend looking at Amber and how they can make your battery into an money-making-machine.
If you've read all of this and are still unsure on if your solar panels need replacing, send us a message, and we can walk you through on if
it is time and how to proceed. We won't try to sell you something you don't need. Let's chat.
Every property will have its own features and history and depending on when the solar panels were installed, it is important to check the panels a couple of times a year to ensure your system is running to maximum capacity. If you feel your solar system isn't old enough to replace but needs a professional to have a look, we provide solar health checks which involves a member of our team coming out to have a look at your solar system and ensure it is running correctly.
Hopefully this gives you a better idea on when you should replace your solar panels, feel free to
explore our other articles!