Manufactured to Withstand Elements
Durability is taken into account at the design stage before the manufacture and distribution of solar panels. Overall, solar panels lack fragile moving parts, giving them greater potential for sustained durability than many other forms of new technology. Photovoltaic systems are specifically designed to endure, even under strong weather conditions. Something simple like a small fallen tree branch is unlikely to cause damage to the solar cells. Anything that could severely damage a house will also likely damage a solar panel, putting their durability closer to that of the house itself.
Insurance companies are increasingly offering possible coverage for homeowners’ solar panels. Given the size of the investment it is worthwhile adding the solar-cell-panels system to your insurance cover. There are extended warrantees available that will help consumers pay for necessary labor and solar panel components in the event of loss. A good warrantee will last ten years, which many installation companies offer their consumers. Problems with solar panels may or may not be related to the panels specifically, there is the cabling, the mounting and associated components such as the inverter and possibly batteries. There are ways of designing the system to ensure peak performance, and monitoring and maintaining the physical components can go a long way towards more efficient power. For example, panels covered in dirt and grime might suffer significant lower performance.
Under ideal conditions, solar panels can last between twenty and thirty years. Solar panels are usually constructed using, in part, tempered glass. Tempered glass is often highly resistant, and offers significant protection from the elements. People living in warmer climates are unlikely to have any substantial weather-related problems specific to their solar panels. In tropical locations possibly the worst risk is damage to the panels from hailstorms. Solar panels can bear heavy snowfall and wind by themselves. There is always the risk of debris being blown onto solar panels during powerful storms. However, this is not a risk unique to solar panels, and if storms are heavy enough, they can damage the homes themselves as well as local power lines. Solar panels that are low enough for people and larger animals to reach might be more at risk than those that are higher away from contact, and solar panels in a stable climate are more likely to experience a longer trouble free life.
Maintenance is Necessary
Serious accidents are not the only thing homeowners must consider when operating solar panels. As with anything, a good portion of solar panel durability will be based on how well the homeowners perform maintenance. Solar panels have built-in mechanisms that help them maintain a consistent temperature. People who live in very warm climates or areas prone to rapid shifts in temperature should be careful to monitor their solar panels’ temperature to help prevent long-term damage. Maintaining solar panels will not normally take too much time, but accessibility could be a problem, accessing panels installed on the roof, for example: homeowners may spend as little as eight hours maintaining the system in a given year. Keeping the panels clean from dust and waste from the outdoors will go a long way towards ensuring a long life for the photovoltaic system. Solar panels are neither completely infallible nor hopelessly fragile clean home energy systems.
About the Author: Ronald Heron has academic qualifications BSc(Eng) with Merit (electrical) and MCom, both from UNSW – Australia.