This is the most frequent question that people ask before buying a portable solar panel how long will they last? it’s obvious if you’re spending money on something you wanna know for how long it will benefit you.
Keep reading this article I’ll explain everything about the lifespan of portable solar panels and some tips to increase their lifespan.
How long do portable solar panels last?
On average the portable solar panels last between 20-25 years, just keep in mind they lose their efficiency rate by around 20% in this time period, which means they’d still generate energy for you but at a less efficiency rate.
This number is usually offered by portable solar making companies, they come with 20-25 years of warranty by most of the brands.
Here’s a video about the life span of solar panels which applies to portable solar panels as well
Warranty Period by Different Brands
- Renogy offers 1 year of warranty on the physical condition of the product and 25 years of warranty for power performance with a 1% of decrease in efficiency rate per year. so after 25 years, you’ll be able to generate around about 80% of output power.
- Power Film Solar offers 3 years of warranty. After three years they claim your portable solar panels will be able to generate 80% of output power.
- Go Power offers 25 years of warranty for portable solar panels and 5 years of warranty for flexible solar panels
- Zamp Solar offers 1 year of repair or replacement warranty on the physical condition of the product and 25 years of warranty for power output with the rate of a 1% decrease in efficiency per year.
- Solar Land offers 1 year of warranty for the physical condition of portable solar panels and 25 years of warranty for power output with a 1% decrease in efficiency rate.
What is Efficiency Degradation in Portable Solar Panels
first of all efficiency rate of any solar product is the percentage of sunlight that can be converted into electricity by solar cells. Most solar panels offer about an 80-85% efficiency rate means only 85% of sunlight can be converted into electricity depending on how much sunlight panels are getting.
Efficiency degradation is defined as solar cells reducing their efficiency rate as time passes, they become less efficient every single year.
on average portable solar panel cells decrease their efficiency by 1% every year. which is, to be honest not that much. means after 20 years they’ll be still generating energy but only 20% less than they were used to producing in their early days.
This happens because of small cracks in solar cells over time, these cracks happen due to multiple reasons which I’ll discuss later on. because of these micro-cracks, electricity can’t pass through which in result makes them less efficient.
Unfortunately, you can not prevent these total companies are constantly working on this to minimize the efficiency degradation but yes there are a few things which you can do to make this process slower which I’ll explain later on in this article.
Video – Solar panels performance vs product warranty explained
What Makes Solar Cells Less Efficient over time?
There are many factors that play a part in decreasing solar cells’ efficiency. Here are some factors which play a major role in this
UV Rays (LID)
UV rays are a form of radiation that comes from the sun. When your solar cells are exposed to the sun for the first time the efficiency rate of the cells can decrease from 1-3% in a few hours which is called light-induced degradation (LID). Luckily some brands make panels with UV blockers.
so make sure your manufacturer uses UV blockers before buying.
Weather is the first enemy of solar cells’ efficiency. as I told you before about the microcracks, how they affect the efficiency of the solar cells
These cracks happen because when the weather is warm the solar cells expend a little bit and when the weather is cold they contract a little bit
this back and forth process causes microcracks in the cells. which leads them to produce less electricity
Similarly, snow, wind, and rain cause problems in solar cells which leads to Efficiency Degradation.
How You Can Reduce Efficiency Degradation?
Well, there’s nothing you can do about it, it’s nearly impossible to avoid Efficiency Degradation but you can make this process a little bit slower by taking care of your portable solar panels.
Above, everything which I have discussed was about solar cells and it’s difficult to take care of normal grid solar panels but portable solar panels are easy to take care of because of their small size and portability.
It is impossible to save them from sunlight and temperature because this is how they produce electricity but you can protect them from heavy winds, snow, and rain. which can reduce the process of microcracks in solar cells
Always go for a brand that offers UV blockers in portable solar panels by doing this you can avoid light-induced degradation (LID) which will save you that initial loss of efficiency.
and yes buying a portable solar which is waterproof will save your headache down the road. waterproof panels are a little bit more expensive than others but these few dollars can make difference in the long run.
Here’s my best pick for waterproof portable solar panel
Tips on How to Make Your Portable Solar Panels Last Longer
Here are some technical tips for you to make your portable solar panels last longer, These tips will make a very huge difference but these will have some effects
Choose a Reliable Brand
Make sure to choose a good-quality portable solar panel manufacturer and look for the specs and quality before making a purchase. Try to go for high-efficiency portable solar panels which should be above 80% so over some time period you can generate much electricity after efficiency degradation.
Check the warranty period of portable solar panels and their Efficiency Degradation per year.
Also check the solar cells types (Polycrystalline, monocrystalline, bifacial, Half-Cut, Sunpower Solar cells) Which I have discussed in detail ( Click here )
Sunpower solar cells are the best ones so far but are very high in price. OffGridTrek offers solar panels in Sunpower solar cells but it’s expensive from many other brands.
If it’s expensive for you then go for monocrystalline or half-cut solar cells type.
Here’s a video about the difference between other solar cells and Sunpower solar cells.
Portable solar panels come with a warranty of many years but the inverter and controller don’t last that much longer, they come with a warranty between 3-5 years depending on the brand
so change your inverters and controllers according to their warranty. buy not changing them can affect the production of current.
power will not pass through them to power stations or batteries which will cause a power loss and you won’t be able to store that much electricity which you should be getting.
Change Power Stations
Portable power stations work as a storing of energy that is generated from solar cells. solar cells produce energy in DC ( Direct current ) and most of the electronics use AC ( Alternating Current ) so these power stations help to convert DC into AC and also store electricity into them.
Portable Power station or batteries also has a warranty of a max of 5 years after that they reduce their capacity of storing electricity in them. which can cause a loss of energy.
portable solar panels are electronics like your vehicle, as you change the oil and try to maintain your vehicle just like that these portable solar panels also require maintenance and cleaning which will make them last longer.
Cleaning Your Solar Panels Videos ( Same applies for portable solar panels ) just make sure they are waterproof
Does a portable solar panel’s output vary in voltage or current?
The short answer for this is Current. minimum light can bring its voltage to maximum but there will be no current.
Why do portable solar panels generate a high voltage but a low current?
Because current varies on the intensity of the sunlight and voltage can be at its maximum by exposing to little bit sunshine.
How many amps can a portable solar panel produce?
Portable solar panels come in different sizes and watts. small ones can generate between 0.5 – 2 amps, 100-200W panels can generate from 4-10 amps under goog sunshine.
Portable solar panels can last for many years but they come with 20-25 years of power output warranty in which they will reduce their efficiency rate by 20%. but they will still be generating energy if you took care of their physical condition.
maintaining is the most important part to make them last longer. which I have discussed earlier on how you can make them last longer.