Space Provides the Ultimate Testing “Ground”
Some individuals looking into solar panel systems wonder how long they can be expected to last. After all, it can be a big investment, and you want to know that you can rely on that investment. Granted, SunPower puts a 25-year warranty behind each of their solar panels, and that certainly shows integrity and trust in their product. But are there any other examples of endurance or longevity when it comes to solar panels?
Evidence from Space!
Way back in 1958, the USA was confronted with a problem. The USSR began launching satellites into orbit of the Earth. The West launched a few themselves, but the operation of those satellites only lasted a few days before battery power ran out. Four years earlier, Bell Laboratories produced a way to generate energy repeatedly from sunlight, calling it the solar cell. American engineers decided to design solar cells into their next satellite, Vanguard 1, and launched it into space.
Vanguard 1 used a very early version of solar technology, and only converted about 10% of the sunlight it caught into energy. Even so, it was able to transmit data back to Earth for not just days or the expected weeks, but for five years until 1964! The only reason it stopped working is because the transmitter itself ran on batteries that could not be recharged. If rechargeable batteries were used, Vanguard 1 would have continued working for much longer. At this moment, it is still the oldest satellite orbiting Earth.
Mars Provides Evidence
In January of 2004, the rover Opportunity landed on Mars. The rover’s mission was meant to last only 90 days, with the power systems expected to give out around that time. Imagine NASA’s delight to keep receiving data from Opportunity for 15 years! Opportunity’s solar cells allowed the vehicle to continue collecting samples and roam the red planet for 28 miles. The only thing that stopped Opportunity from continuing to transmit was a ferocious dust storm that lasted for two weeks. Without sunlight to keep the solar cells generating energy, the rover finally ended its mission, its rechargeable batteries exhausted.
Longevity You Can Trust
Clearly, solar power cells continue to generate electricity until an external problem or design limitation gets in the way. You might not have to worry about a two-week dust storm or a battery-operated transmitter, but unexpected events happen when you least expect them. That’s another reason SunPower provides a 25-year warranty for their photovoltaic panels. They want to make sure they keep working at peak performance throughout their lifetime.
That’s also one of the many reasons Solaron works exclusively with SunPower photovoltaic systems here in Northern California. We know you’re getting the top solar power system out there, and we make sure it’s installed and running perfectly. Give us a call or schedule a free solar analysis online for more information.