Portable solar technology can offer you numerous benefits. However, the most important benefit of portable solar panels, the reason why most people purchase them, is the remarkable return on investment they offer and the savings they help you earn.
When estimating the return-on-investment offered by portable solar panels, knowing their expected lifespan is one the most important factors since it allows you to discern how much savings your system will earn you throughout its lifetime and whether these savings justify the initial investment in the system.
In this article, we will explain how long do portable solar panels last and how you can potentially extend their lifespan. So, without further ado, let’s begin!
How Long Do Portable Solar Panels Last: Is There a Definite Answer?
If you’re looking for a short, manufacturer-specified answer to the question above, then you should know that most manufacturers claim 25 years as the average lifespan for their portable solar panels. However, you should also know that portable solar panel lifespan is somewhat a complex matter, one that is influenced by a variety of different factors and differs person to person. Confused? Let us explain.
The thing about the lifespan of portable panels is that they don't simply provide the same amount of power output for an average of 25 years and then abruptly cease to work one day. Instead, they gradually age over the years with their efficiency and power output progressively decreasing by the day.
This means that even after 25 years have surmised, your portable solar panels will still be producing electrical energy from the sunlight. However, the output of your system might or might not be enough after this time to give you the benefits you desire, this of course depends on your needs and preferences. It will then be up to you to decide whether it is worth investing in new panels or if your old ones are still doing a good enough job to cover your energy needs and wants.
Then why does the industry use 25 years as the average lifespan you wonder? This is because the market research and data shows that most portable solar owners tend to replace their panels after a period of 25 years because after that, the energy output of their system is unable to meet their energy needs. Therefore, a safe estimate for the lifespan of solar panels is 25 years.
How Long Do Portable Solar Panels Last: 4 Factors That You Need to Consider
The Type of Solar Panels Used
One of the most important factors that dictate the lifespan of a portable solar panel is the type of solar cells used to create the panel. Like most technologies in the world, solar panels also come in different types, three to be specific. These three different types are: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-fil solar panels.
Monocrystalline are the most efficient of the three portable solar panel types. Naturally, since these panels are more efficient than the others, they will last you longest as well since it will take more time for their efficiency to degrade to a level where it is no longer enough to fulfill your needs.
After monocrystalline, polycrystalline is the most efficient and will last you quite a long time, however, not as long as monocrystalline panels. Thin film panels are the least efficient panels but offer great portability and flexibility of design.
If your primary goal is to get panels that will last you the longest and give you the greatest return for your investment, you should opt for high-quality monocrystalline panels such as the Bluetti portable solar panels which are made from the finest monocrystalline cells in the industry and offer you a class-leading efficiency of 23.4%.
Age of the Panels
If you already have portable solar panels or are purchasing used one you may be wondering how much longer they will be able to output enough electrical energy to facilitate your energy needs. We advise you to base your estimates on the standard 25-year timeframe as a starting point and work your backwards to the current age of your portable solar panels.
It's crucial to remember that your system might continue to just fine for many more years provided that you have properly maintained and cared for the panels. However, the lifespan of your portable solar panels keeps shortening and it would be wise to mentally and financially prepare for replacements when your solar panels approach their 25th birthday.
As discussed above, Higher-quality panels often last longer since they have a higher efficiency value to begin with and on top of that, they lose their efficiency at a much slower rate than the other subpar options.
The Location of Usage of the Portable Panels
One of the main target demographics of portable solar panels are people who are on the road all the time or live in an off-gird location and need a reliable and portable power generation source with a great return on investment.
This, however, also means that portable panels are commonly used in remote, off-road sites where they are widely exposed to the natural elements. Hence the places where you take your portable solar panels and how well you protect the panels from the elements in these places plays a vital role in determining the lifespan of your portable solar panels.
For instance, if you take your panels to the beach on a hot sunny day, the heat of the direct sun can harden certain parts of your solar panel, thereby deteriorating the structural integrity of your panels and opening it up to damages. The seals of your panels may even harden and crack, allowing moisture to seep in and destroy the internals of the panels.
If you go someplace where there is a lot of wind, the strong winds can cause the solar panels to vibrate, twist, and bend, thereby inducing stresses in the portable solar panels. If the stresses persist for an long enough period of time, they can induce cracks in the panels or loosen up the components holding the panel together.
To summarize, the geographical location, and the environmental conditions of that location, where you use your portable solar panels can really impact the lifespan of your solar panels. Fortunately, Bluetti offers you the most durable portable panels with a long-lasting ETFE coating and IP65 junction box. This allows the panels to handle light splashes of water and resist scratches making them perfect for your off-grid adventures such as fishing, camping, hiking and more.
Maintenance and Service History
Regular cleaning and maintenance of panels can go a long way in extending the lifespan of your portable panels and help avoid faults and problems in your system. in addition, regular inspections can also help you identify and remediate potential or developing faults in the panels early, thereby helping you save any costly repairs or replacements.
How to Make Solar Panels Last Longer
Solar panel degradation is a natural phenomenon that simply cannot be avoided. This means that no matter how many protective measures you take to safeguard your solar panels, they will still gradually degrade over time. However, there are a few ways you can slow down this degradation and extend your portable solar panel lifespan. Let’s explore these methods:
Avoid Purchasing Used Portable Solar Panels
Although this method does not directly lead to a longer lifespan for your portable solar panel, it does help ensure that you get a better return on your investment. When purchasing used panels, you expose yourself to the risk of getting tricked into a bad purchase.
Unless you are a solar expert, it is almost impossible for you to assess the condition of the internal components of the solar panels you are buying without opening them up. This means that the solar panels that you buy may have internal defects which you may not know about or may have not been disclosed to you and you only find out about them after a few days of using the panels.
These internal defects could, for instance, lead to a lower efficiency than advertised and in the worst case scenario, the defect may grow into something more major and lead to an accelerated degradation of your solar panel.
Additionally, you’ll also have no way to ensure if the panels you are buying were properly taken care of by the current owner except for their word. As such, it would be much wiser for you to steer clear of such circumstances by buying brand new portable solar panels from a reputable and trusted company.
Protect from the Environment
Even though high quality panels, such as Bluetti portable solar panels, offer outstanding durability and are designed for outdoor and off-grid use, they are still not immune to the damages than can be caused by the environment.
For instance, while some panels come with IP65 certification and can handle splashes of water, submerging them in water or putting them out in heavy rain will be too much for their internal seals to handle and water will start to seep into the panels. This is why it is important to protect the portable solar panels from harsh weathers conditions to ensure they do not incur any damages that may end up shortening their lifespan.
While portable solar panels do not take up much storage space due to their portable and compact designs, it is important that you allocate a safe and secure space for the panels to prevent them from getting damaged.
For instance, if you store the panels in your car’s trunk while going camping and then stack up other heavy stuff on top of them, the pressure exerted by the stuff on top can induce cracks in the panel class and may even damage the internals of the panels.
On the other hand, if you store the panels along with sharp and pointy stuff, this could lead to cracks on the surface which could reduce the efficiency of the panels and shorten its lifespan.
Regular Cleaning and Maintenance
As we have already established before, proper and regular cleaning and maintenance can help you identify developing faults early on and address them before they grow into expensive repairs. Additionally, cleaning your panels regularly ensures that maximum sunlight passes through to the solar cells inside allowing the panels to deliver optimal performance.
Determining the lifespan of portable panels is a complicated matter since there are various factors that can influence the health and performance of your panels. In general, the portable solar industry claims an average portable solar panel lifespan of 25 years. However, if you properly take care of your panels and do not have a very high energy consumption, your portable panels can last you well over the 25 year mark.