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Used solar panels: buyer's guide

03 Jan 2023, 17:35 GMT+10

On websites such as eBay, individuals can list their used solar panels for sale at a discount, resulting in some of the lowest costs for solar equipment. This article examines the market for used solar panels and if purchasing panels from a reseller is the best option for a residential solar power system.

Why would you want to consider used solar panels?
For most solar installations, your installer will include new components, including panels, inverters, and wiring. However, a quick web search for used solar panels (also known as solar modules) will reveal various alternatives for purchasing used equipment, including auction sites such as eBay, wholesale used panels from multiple providers, and Amazon listings. Solar panels may be resold for various reasons, including if they are slightly damaged, reducing efficiency, or if someone has purchased too many panels. Used solar panels might be appealing for their low pricing and low-risk utility in DIY solar projects, regardless of the reason for the sale.

What is the cost of secondhand solar panels?
The primary benefit of secondhand solar panels over brand-new ones is their lower price. Used panels can cost as little as $0.10 to $0.75 per watt, but new panels in the United States cost an average of $2.86 per watt, according to QuestGreens. However, there are other factors to consider when acquiring secondhand solar panels in addition to their initial price.

Important facts about secondhand solar panels
Used solar panels may be suitable for specific projects, but for most solar customers, they pose more headaches than they are worth. There are various reasons why used panels may not be the best option for you:

1. Used panels have already degraded
Used solar panels frequently yield less energy than advertised since the output of a solar panel decreases over time. This does not necessarily indicate that your old solar panels are damaged; it is simply a natural component of the aging process. However, the greater your initial system output, the greater your long-term savings from your solar energy system.

2. Used panels are often damaged
Numerous large commercial solar systems can occasionally have damaged panels, and their owners will minimize financial losses by reselling them at a discount. If your used solar panels are damaged, they will not produce as much energy, and you will save less on your electricity bill. Damaged solar panels are typically less effective in converting sunlight into usable electricity. Therefore, a damaged and less efficient solar panel will produce less electricity than a new and more efficient solar panel of the same size under identical conditions.

3. Solar technology continues to advance.
The solar industry is always developing and releasing competitively priced new panel technology. Even a few-year-old used panel in good condition will have obsolete photovoltaic technology and produce electricity less effectively than a brand-new solar panel. Installing newer, more efficient, and frequently higher-wattage solar panels will save you more money over time than installing an older model that costs less initially.

For instance, most newly installed solar panels are monocrystalline, which means they contain solar cells produced from a single silicon crystal and are more efficient. On the other hand, used solar panels may be polycrystalline, with solar cells manufactured from many fused silicon fragments and typically less expensive. Before making a purchase, you must choose which alternatives best meet your needs; an experienced installer can assist you.

4. Warranties may not apply to used panels
When you purchase a solar energy system, most manufacturers will include both production and equipment guarantees, ensuring that your panels will remain free of faults and maintain a specific percentage of their original output. SunPower, for instance, provides the best warranty for residential solar panels, which guarantees 98 percent of the original production by the end of the first year and 92 percent by the end of the 25th year (if installed new).

Used panels do not necessarily come with the same guarantees, and you may run the risk of reduced solar output or system failure without coverage. Additionally, there is frequently no way to verify that old solar panels work or produce a specific wattage, meaning that you may purchase defective or worthless equipment.

5. Used equipment may not be eligible for incentives
When you install a new solar system to harness renewable energy at your residence, you are eligible for the investment tax credit (ITC), which allows you to deduct 30 percent of the system's cost from your federal taxes. To qualify for this incentive, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) says on its website that "the solar PV system must be new or used for the first time." Only the initial installation of solar equipment can be claimed for the credit."

Are used solar panels the best option for you?

For some households, purchasing used solar panels may be a wise investment. For instance, if you don't want to power your entire home with solar but are searching for a means to charge a small battery, purchasing a few old panels is a low-risk, cost-effective option to obtain electricity. In general, installing a brand-new solar system that can power your home for decades is the wiser long-term choice for most individuals. Many people who shop for solar equipment on QuestGreens consider various factors besides price while seeking the highest quality and greatest value. You can check out Solar Panel Equipment Guide to compare solar panels based on our professional evaluation methodology.

Equip your property with the optimal solar installation

If you want to build a solar system on your roof, as a carport, or as a ground-mounted system, purchasing secondhand solar panels typically causes more issues than it solves. On the QuestGreens Marketplace, you can quickly obtain comparative quotations for new systems from verified installers. If obtaining the lowest price for solar is your top priority, indicate in your account that you're interested in affordable solutions so that installers can personalize their estimates to your preferences.

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