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Does anyone know if the performance of solar inverters degrades over time? If so what is the mechanism?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ PV inverters use about the same components as switch mode power supplies (SMPS). What power do you have in mind for the inverter? What type of environment? The degradation mechanism would depend on these. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 17, 2012 at 22:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Was just a general question, I am interested in the long term reliability of inverters and power electronics in general. I've seen many presentations that detail data on PV cell degradation, but never seen anything on inverter degradation over time. Perhaps there is no degradation mechanism for the type of power electronics used, would be good to know. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 18, 2012 at 4:31

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I don't think the inverter would appreciably degrade, since they tend to be more ruggedly designed than conventional power supplies (no electrolytic capacitors, for example).

As for the panels, other sources claim that panel manufacturers cite a 20% drop in panel efficiency over a 25 year period. This appears to be due to breakdown of the panel material itself.

If you live in a dusty environment, surface dirt on the panels can degrade their performance significantly, but this is reversible with cleaning.

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They typically have shorter lifetime than the panels themselves, perhaps 5 years. As with all other power electronic components, I guess it is your typical wear and tear due to thermal expansions/contractions, and hence they advise outdoor inverters should be place away frm direct sun.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Whether they have long or short life times depends on the design, and thus how much you pay for them. If they are built with aluminum electrolytic capacitors, those would likely be the first to go, for example. If you build them with more robust components, you'd get better lifetimes (and higher initial cost.) \$\endgroup\$
    – Jon Watte
    May 5, 2014 at 17:14

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