solar obsolete

Customers regularly ask me, How soon will my solar panels become obsolete? or Should I plan on replacing my panels when the technology gets better?

Panel technology is improving, but very slowly. So don’t worry. Today’s solar panels are not going the way of the rotary phone or console TV anytime soon. You do not need to think about “upgrading” your panels for decades.

A good analogy is a home heating furnace.

Last year I replaced my two furnaces, not because I wanted new technology but because they were 23-years-old and near the end of their lives. Were better furnaces built in the years following 1994? Sure. There were probably better furnaces available the same day mine were installed. But I never felt the need to “upgrade” because they worked fine and I wanted to get my money’s worth.

obsolete solarYou should think of solar panels the same way. Once installed, they will work well for many, many years. In fact, most are warrantied to produce electricity for 25 years with only very minor degradation.

(Chances are, they’ll last even longer. If you’re into PV technology, check out the results of one solar owner’s test of his 30-year-old panels.)

So, like your furnace, put the solar panels up and let them work until they don’t work anymore. Then replace them.

A good solar installer estimated your Return On Investment (ROI) and told you when your system will have paid for itself. Typically that’s in 5 to 12 years, depending on a number of factors. That means that for another 13 to 20 years, your panels will save you money in the form of free electricity, and cost you nothing.

To me that sounds like a perfect situation to do absolutely nothing about.


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