How Long Do Portable Solar Panels Last?

The average lifespan of portable solar panels is around 20-25 years. During this time, their efficiency may decrease by around 20%, meaning they will continue to generate electricity but at a lower rate. 

The longevity of solar panels largely depends on the materials used in their manufacturing, maintenance and the various components involved in the process of converting sunlight into electricity.

If you are in the market for a panel or two, keep reading as I uncover all the details and factors affecting their lifespan.

Key Takeaways

  • Portable solar panels typically last for about 20-25 years.
  • Over time, the efficiency of these solar panels may decrease by approximately 20%.
  • Factors such as material quality, maintenance, and components contribute to the lifespan of portable solar panels.

The Lifespan of Solar Panels

On average, portable solar panels have a lifespan of 20-25 years, making them a reliable power source for long-term use.

Over the course of their lifespan, it’s worth noting that the efficiency of solar panels tends to decrease. Around the 25-year mark, the efficiency of portable solar panels can decline by about 20%, resulting in a lower rate of energy generation. 

Nevertheless, they will continue to produce electricity, even if at a reduced level. The worth of portable solar panels remains high due to their durability and long-lasting potential.

To get the most out of your portable solar panels and extend their lifespan, it’s crucial to carry out proper maintenance. 

Regularly cleaning the panels and monitoring their performance can keep them functioning at peak efficiency. In addition, it’s important to ensure that the panels are installed in an optimal location with ample sunlight and minimal shading.

Industry-standard warranties from manufacturers back the 20 to 25-year lifespan of portable solar panels. 

Most reputable companies offer 25 years or more production warranties, giving consumers confidence in their investment. These warranties serve as an assurance that their product will continue to perform effectively for many years to come.

Despite a gradual decline in performance over time, portable solar panels remain a worthwhile investment in renewable energy.

Degradation and Efficiency

Degradation Rates

Types of portable solar panels vary, and their specific degradation rates and efficiency losses may differ. On average, solar panels experience a yearly degradation rate of around 0.5%.

According to 8billiontrees, after 5 years, their output rating will have declined to about 95%, and after 10 years, this number will drop to around 92%.

Factors Affecting Efficiency

Several factors can impact your portable solar panels’ efficiency and degradation rate. Some of the most common factors include:

🌡️ Temperature: Higher temperatures can cause increased degradation rates in some solar panels.

🟤 Dust and dirt: Accumulating dust and dirt on the solar panels’ surface can decrease their efficiency, making it necessary to clean them regularly.

☁️ Shading: If portable solar panels are exposed to shading (from trees, buildings, etc.), their output may be reduced.

🔩 Installation quality: The efficiency of solar panels can be hampered if they are not installed and mounted properly.

👴 Age: As mentioned earlier, the solar panels’ efficiency tends to reduce with time, and after 25 years, their original output capacity may be reduced to around 82%.

The Contribution of Major Components

The Role of Solar Cells

Portable solar panels comprise various components, but the key part is the solar cell. These cells are responsible for converting sunlight into electricity. 

The efficiency and lifespan of solar panels rely heavily on the quality and type of solar cells used in the system. Initial exposure to sunlight can decrease cell efficiency by 1-3% within a few hours due in part to the effects of UV radiation. 

Furthermore, the gradual degradation of solar cells over time can affect the overall lifespan of portable solar panels, which ranges from 3 to 25 years.

For a better understanding of the mechanism of how portable solar panels work, it is essential to consider the role solar cells play in the system as a whole. Proper maintenance care can prolong the life of solar cells while retaining their efficiency.

The Significance of Inverters

Another critical component of portable solar panel systems is the inverter, which is responsible for converting the direct current (DC) generated by the solar cells into alternating current (AC), which is compatible with most appliances and electrical devices. 

Inverters play an essential role in ensuring that solar energy is usable and transferable to various devices, improving the system’s overall performance.

The efficiency and lifespan of the inverter can also contribute to the overall lifespan of the portable solar panel. High-quality inverters are vital for a long-lasting and effective solar panel system. 

Regular maintenance checks and adequate care can ensure that the inverter maintains good working conditions, ultimately contributing to the longevity of the portable system.

Maintenance and Care

Cleaning and Checking

Dirt, dust, and debris can accumulate on the panels, reducing their efficiency. Keep your portable solar panels clean by cleaning them with a soft brush, using a gentle hose spray, or wiping their surface with a squeegee. 

Inspecting the panels for any visible damage or wear and tear is also a good idea, paying special attention to the panel’s surface, frame, and wiring connections.

During the cleaning process, ensure that portable solar panels are not exposed to excessive amounts of water, as it could cause damage to the wiring or connections. However, portable solar panels can get wet, and rain showers shouldn’t pose a significant issue.

Preventing Mechanical Stress

Take protective measures to prevent mechanical stress. Be cautious when handling the panels, and avoid applying any excessive force or pressure that could lead to damage. 

Store the panels in a secure location whenever they are not in use, protecting them from severe weather conditions and potential physical impact.

Preventing mechanical stress on portable solar panels includes proper installation and positioning. 

Ensure that the mounting system is durable and robust, with all components securely fixed, and position the panels to reduce the likelihood of damage caused by strong winds, hail, or falling debris.

Manufacturing and Material Quality

Now, let’s take a closer look at the differences between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels.

Monocrystalline vs Polycrystalline

The two main types of solar panels used in portable solar panels are monocrystalline and polycrystalline.

Both are made from silicon, but the manufacturing processes and appearance differ, affecting their overall efficiency and lifespan.

  • Monocrystalline solar panels are made from a single crystal structure of silicon, which provides a more uniform and continuous flow of electrons. Consequently, they are more efficient in converting sunlight into electricity. Mono panels typically have a higher initial cost but can offer better long-term value due to their durability and performance over time.
  • Polycrystalline solar panels, on the other hand, are composed of multiple silicon crystals. Resulting in a less uniform structure, leading to lower efficiency levels in converting sunlight into electricity. Though they are generally less expensive than mono panels, their overall performance may be weaker in the long run.

Another crucial factor affecting the lifespan and performance of portable solar panels is the type of protective coating used on their surface. Two primary layers are applied on portable solar panels, including ETFE (Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene) and PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate).

  • ETFE is a high-strength, durable material commonly used as a protective layer for both monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels. Not only does it possess excellent UV and weather resistance, but it also maintains high light transmittance. This results in better overall performance and a longer lifespan for solar panels with an ETFE coating.
  • PET is a more affordable option but generally offers lower durability than ETFE. It is less resistant to UV light and weather conditions, which can negatively impact the longevity of solar panels that utilize this type of coating.

Lastly, using tempered glass in some portable solar panels adds an extra layer of protection against environmental factors and potential damage. This can help improve the panel’s lifespan and overall performance.

Mathew, our founder and chief editor at BloomCentre, combines his passion for renewable energy, commitment to sustainable living, and his rich experience in the solar industry to provide reliable and insightful advice.