Solar Pannels

What To Do After Your Solar Panels Expire

Unfortunately, solar panels don’t last forever. If your solar panel system in Albuquerque is reaching the end of its lifespan, follow our guide to expired solar panels below.

The Lifespan of Solar Panel Systems

The length of time that solar panels last is one of the most common questions among prospective solar panel owners. Generally speaking, solar panels last between 25 and 30 years. That’s a long time – many homeowners are likely to move before they’ll have to worry about replacing their solar panel systems. 

It’s also important to note that after 25 to 30 years, your Albuquerque solar panels won’t just stop working. The panels will continue to work, but at a significantly lower rate of efficiency than when they were first installed. The process of solar panels becoming less efficient over time is called degradation, and different solar panels (from different manufacturers) degrade at different rates. A degradation rate of about 0.5% is considered average, though panels may range from 0.3% to 0.8% degradation rates. 

When your solar panel system has degraded to the point at which its efficiency has fallen below 80%, it’s widely considered time to replace them. If any damage comes to your solar panels, (though it’s unlikely), you may need to replace them sooner. 

Reusing or Repairing Expired Solar Panels

Since solar panels that are considered past their prime can usually still generate energy for your home, many people opt to keep them. While the panels will produce energy at a lesser rate than before, many Albuquerque homeowners may still have their energy needs fulfilled by the outdated panels.

Repairing older solar panels can also be an option in some scenarios. For example, if your panels have incurred minor damages, it can be possible to have only the damaged parts replaced. This can save you from having to invest in an entirely new solar panel system. 

But, if your older solar panels are no longer producing enough energy to power your home, the best option is generally to have them replaced. Replacement is also recommended if your panels have been damaged beyond repair. 

Replacing Your Solar Panels

Eventually, it will come time to replace your old solar panels for new, more efficient panels. The widely accepted practice in this scenario is to recycle your old panels. Recycling is the most sustainable option for solar panel removal. Given that we’re all trying to be kinder to the planet, recycling in any form is usually the best choice to make!

Removing The Expired Panels

Before the expired solar panels can be recycled, they must be removed. This task should be completed by your solar panel experts in Albuquerque. Solar panels are complex pieces of energy equipment and need to be handled by professionals for your safety. 

Recycling The Expired Panels

Solar panels are made up of many different parts, with the various parts made out of different materials. This makes the recycling process for solar panels more complex than that of other items. That said, it’s worth it to properly recycle your solar panels. In doing so, you’ll be making a difference for the environment by making sure that your old solar panels don’t end up in landfills. 

PV solar panels may be silicon-based or thin-film-based. Both of the types of solar panels can be recycled, though the recycling process is different for both. 

Recycling Silicon-Based PV Panels

The first step in the process of recycling silicon-based PV panels is disassembling them. This separates the aluminum parts from the glass parts. Almost all of the glass and all of the metal in the solar panels can be reused. The plastic in the panels is thermal-processed and evaporates for use as a heat source. The cell modules are also thermal-processed, and most of them can be used. The silicon wafers must be processed and melted, then may be reused. 

Recycling Thin-Film-Based PV Panels

To recycle thin-film-based PV panels, they must first be shredded to eliminate the lamination. Then, the solid and liquid are separated before the film is removed. From there, the semiconductor material and the glass are treated separately to become ready for reuse. Almost all of the semiconductor material and glass can be reused. 

To learn more about recycling your outdated solar panel system, contact our Albuquerque solar panel team today.

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