One of the main reasons that people choose to get solar panels installed on their homes is in order to make and save money. The government’s tax free feed-in tariff, which pays you for the electricity that your solar system produces, can be a tempting incentive to put those panels up. But for how long can you expect to earn money with your panels? Here’s the answer to your question…
Earning Money with the Feed-In Tariff
If you’re thinking about the money that you’re getting for producing energy under the government’s feed-in tariff then your solar panels will earn you money for twenty years. This is the set limit that the government guarantees rates for. When you install the system and accept the feed-in tariff your rate per kWh (kilowatt hour) of electricity produced is fixed, though it may change in line with inflation. The term of the tariff is also fixed, and right now that term is twenty years. However, if your system was installed before August 1st, 2012 then your rates are fixed for twenty five years from the date of installation.
Does that mean that after twenty years you’re not going to make money anymore? The answer to that is that we don’t know. The feed-in tariff scheme has not been in existence long enough for anyone to find out. There are two possibilities for what could happen after your twenty year term runs out. The first is that you’ll be allowed to sign up for the scheme again, though with different rates than you originally had (the rates are reviewed every three months and changed quite frequently). The second is that the government will have scrapped the programme entirely and you won’t be able to claim any more payments at all.
Don’t Forget Savings Though
However, even if you don’t get any money at all from the feed-in scheme (say for example you didn’t use a government approved installation company which will make you ineligible for the feed-in tariff), don’t forget that your solar system doesn’t only earn you money, it saves you money. By producing your own electricity and using it in your home you can cut down your monthly energy bills.
In this sense, your solar panel system will continue benefiting you for as long as it’s in operation. As long as you have the panels up, and as long as they’re functioning and generating energy, you’ll be saving on your household bills.
Limitations of the System
How long then can you expect your solar panel system to last? The nice thing about solar panels is that they have few moving parts and are fairly maintenance free. The inverter in your system will probably need replacing every twenty years or so, but other than that we don’t really know how long the panels themselves will last. Again, the technology just hasn’t been around for long enough for us to know how robust it is.
Of course, as time goes on panels will be updated, become more efficient and cheaper, which may mean that you want to replace them anyway. But in terms of your existing system, as far as we know right now it will continue producing energy, saving you on your home electricity bills, for years and years.
How long your PV solar panel system will earn you money for rather depends on how you see it as a money maker. When it comes to the government feed-in tariff you’re looking at a minimum of twenty years (though there’s every possibility that you’ll be able to sign up again when your term is over). When it comes to earning through saving on your home energy bills though, you could be making money for years to come.