Solar panel (photovoltaic panel) replacement may be necessary due to physical damage or a decline in panel performance. The may also need to be removed and replaced if your roof needs to be repaired, or if you’re relocating to a new home with a similar roof size and orientation.
Solar panel systems are designed to last 25-30 years or longer, and it’s possible you may never need replacement panels in your lifetime! However, there are a few instances where you may need to repair or replace your PV system. Namely, if the panels have been damaged or are no longer performing, if your underlying roof needs repair or replacement, or if you’re moving.
When Is Solar Panel Replacement Necessary?
Panels Are Damaged
Installing replacement solar panels is necessary when the panels are damaged, such as from hailstorms, fallen trees, or other physical impacts. These incidents can cause cracks, breaks, or damage to the frames and mounting hardware, impairing the panels' functionality and efficiency.
Replacement restores the panel's power output and ensures the system's longevity. Solar panel repair is sometimes possible so you can save money on total replacement. Contact your original installer or a company that specializes in repair to see what they recommend.
Be sure to check your system warranty; physical damage may be covered. If not, call your insurance company to see what coverage your homeowners policy provides.
TIP: Always review and update your homeowners insurance policy after any major home improvement projects that would increase the dwelling coverage. If you had to rebuild, it would be very unfortunate if there wasn’t enough coverage to replace a $20,000 solar panel system.
Roof Needs Repair Or Replacement
If you need roof repairs or replacement, you’ll need to remove and reinstall your solar panels if they are still in good condition. If the panels are aging and it’s time for an upgrade, this is an excellent opportunity to replace your roof and solar system at the same time.
A professional roofer that specializes in solar work will be able to remove and reinstall an existing system. If your preferred roofer won’t assume the liability, call your original solar installer for these tasks. Expect to pay between $1,500-$6,000 to have solar panels removed and reinstalled as part of your roofing job.
Panels Are Not Performing
Towards the end of their typical lifespan of 25-30 years, solar panel systems decline in performance and efficiency. If your panels are not performing up to par, it may be time to replace them.
If your solar power system is under-performing or not functioning at all, it could also indicate underlying issues with the racking, wiring, string inverters, microinverters, or other components. Replacing faulty parts may restore the panels' functionality and ensure consistent energy production without replacing the entire system.
Relocating a solar energy system is rare since the modules are typically designed and installed specifically for the roof space and orientation they occupy. However, if your old and new houses have similar roofs and orientations, it is possible to move the entire solar array.
Additional costs and considerations, such as permits and system modifications, may be involved in relocating the solar array to the new location.
Solar panel removal in the USA can vary in terms of ease. In general, removing solar panels involves disconnecting electrical connections and mounting hardware, and safely handling the panels.
This is not your usual DIY project, so contact a professional solar panel installer or the contractor who installed the panels originally. They can provide the know-how and give you a fair assessment about whether relocating the system is feasible.
Frequently Asked Questions About Solar Panel Replacement
How often does a solar panel need to be replaced?
The typical lifespan of a solar energy panel is around 25-30 years. Proper care and panel maintenance, regular cleaning, and inspection can extend the lifespan of the panels.
Monitor their energy output over time with a solar panel monitoring system and troubleshoot with a professional solar company if you notice a significant decline in energy production or other issues that may warrant replacement.
How much does it cost to change a solar panel?
The cost of changing a solar panel depends on the type of panel, the complexity of the installation, and any additional components or services required. Replacing a single solar panel can range from around $200 to over $1,000.
Is it worth replacing solar panels?
Deciding whether it is worth replacing solar panels depends on several factors. If the panels are still within their expected lifespan and performing adequately, the replacement process may not be necessary or cost-effective.
However, replacing the panels if they are significantly underperforming, damaged, or nearing the end of their lifespan can improve energy generation and long-term savings.
You should also consider technological advancements in solar panel efficiency and features of new panels that may provide greater benefits.
Is the power output from an old solar panel the same as a new one?
The amount of power loss in solar panels depends on the type of panel and the environment it is installed in. Solar panels generally lose about 0.5%-1% of their efficiency each year. This means a 10-year-old 300-watt solar panel will produce about 270 watts of power.