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Longevity of solar arrays

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Posted by MikeC on January 6, 2007, 5:28 pm

I just saw an article on the web saying that rising electricity prices in
Britain will probably boost the sales of solar arrays, and I wondered how
long it takes to break even.  What I'd like to know is this - how long do
Solar cells last in the real world?  I have seen solar arrays on boats that
have not been really old, but which look pretty manky - though I have no
information on how well they were continuing to perform.  The guy who owns
the boat is a huge boaster, and would never admit that something he bought
was not utterly fantastic.  I know that they start off with blue cells,
though, and that most of the cells had gone partly or completely white.
They are flexible arrays, and even though people try to avoid them, they
inevitably get sood on sometimes, which, of course, would not happen with
roof-mounted panels for domestic use.

So how do they perform against time?  If I buy an array that produces 2A,
will it still be producing 2A after 10 years, or will it have dropped off?
I don't suppose they last indefinitely, and I know that are pretty
expensive, so if you spend 1000 on photovoltaic arrays and have to replace
them after 20 years, you are paying 50 per year for them.  That means that
if you save 50 per year in electricity, you are barely breaking even, so
you might as well not have bothered. So how effective are these arrays from
a financially economical point of view?


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Posted by Anthony Matonak on January 6, 2007, 6:32 pm
MikeC wrote:

Most crystalline/polycrystalline panels are warrantied for 80% of their
original rating at 25 years. If, after 25 years, your panels are not
producing this amount then the manufacturer (if they are still around)
will provide enough panels to make up the difference.

So, generally speaking, your panels should still be producing some power
even after 100 years of service. This may only be half what it was a
century before but they should still work.

This assumes that the panels have not been subjected to sledgehammer
strikes or covered in 100 years of seagull droppings. :)


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