Used Solar Panels (Cost Solutions/Problems)

Solar energy has drastically changed the way businesses operate, and consumers can get solar panels installed in their homes to power all of their utilities. Some people want to spend tens of thousands on brand new solar systems, and others may ask themselves if there is a cheaper way to do it.

That’s why used solar panels might be the way to go. Instead of paying full price, you can potentially snag some second-hand units without compromising efficiency or quality. It depends on their size, where you get them, how old they are, and what condition they’re in. 

In this article, we’ll discuss;

  • Used solar panels and their value
  • Whether or not used solar panels are worth it
  • Where to get solar panels
  • FAQ

Before you call a local specialist or search online for used solar panels, read below for some useful knowledge that will set you in the right direction. 

Stack Of Old Solar Panels
Stack Of Old Solar Panels

What’s the Value of Used Solar Panels?

Initially, the investment in solar panels can cost a hefty amount, especially if you live in certain parts of the world that don’t have much solar manufacturing, or you need a lot of units to cover your specific energy needs. There are hidden costs like installation and transportation of the materials as well.

However, their long-term benefits defeat a normal electric bill, which needs to be replenished consistently throughout the year. Solar is a one-time purchase that lasts decades. 

Additionally, any solar panels will up the price estimate for your house or building and attract copious buyers to your property because of the savings they may get from either living in it or investing in it for the future.

Are Used Solar Panels Worth The Money?

Used panels are a more affordable way to buy solar and will eventually save you money in the long run. The average household could save up to $1,500 each year by transitioning to solar, and that doesn’t include the savings you will have from buying used.

The only issue is that they might have some imperfections in their wattage output, and aren’t as optimal as newer versions if they’re decades old. Used solar panels are still worth it for people who live in places that get adequate sunlight throughout the day.

Are Old Solar Panels Worth Anything?

Panels with many years on their back will still be worth obtaining, but they have to be producing the right amount of energy to be worth much. 

If they are in good shape and produce close to the wattage they state, then it’s probably worth it, because their usage is low for their age. If they produce significantly less, it may be worth searching for used panels with less use on them. 

Are Cheap Solar Panels Worth The Money?

Cheap solar panels can be worth it if they are harnessing the amount of energy you want and don’t have major cosmetic scuffs that will reduce consumption. 

You will be saving at least double the number of dollars you would spend on brand new solar panels. Newer panels are less cost-friendly in the short term because they offer a premium for new technology like automatic sun orientation or increased efficiency. 

Why Are Used Solar Panels So Cheap?

Used solar panels are so cost-effective because they depreciate very fast, and their efficiency might be lower than new technology standards. They also have a more bulky and cumbersome design, which isn’t aesthetically pleasing or easy to install.

One reason is that used panels are sold in bulk to get rid of unused space in manufacturing or retailer sites. On the other hand, people who do understand the value of solar might attempt to sell them for a higher margin. 

New technology uses higher grade silicon that costs a lot to unearth and process, which drives down the cost of older developments. That isn’t to say that the previous generation of panels is bad. Some buyers just want the best of the best.

Why Are People Selling Solar Panels Second-Hand?

The market for solar has evolved quite substantially, but not everyone can afford brand new equipment to power their utilities.

Since solar is relatively new, the used market has only recently boomed in the last decade and will grow further because sellers want to keep the best quality options in stock.

Second-hand sellers are mainly looking to upgrade to newer, more efficient panels that produce more energy than their current setup. Usually, the degradation over many years causes a shortage of electricity for what the home runs on, and people don’t want to compromise that loss. 

Plus, the storage space it takes up is quite a nuisance, especially in urban areas. 

How Much Is A Single Solar Panel Cost?

A single solar panel varies in price based on numerous factors. The number you should pay attention to is the price per watt, and you should also look for the type of panel it is. There are mainly three types:

  • Polycrystalline
  • Monocrystalline
  • Thin-Film

The range you might see is around $0.90-$1.5 per watt for a brand new model. Since you are researching for used gear, you’ll only need to put down $0.10-$0.60 per watt, which is extraordinarily cheap compared to the latest stuff. For example, a single used 200w panel might run you $65. Not bad!

How Long Do Solar Panels Really Last?

The longest-running solar panel still in use today is over half a century old. That specific one was made long ago when photovoltaic energy was just being engineered and harnessed for industrial purposes. 

Most manufacturers or sellers will guarantee a certain lifespan of usability—up to 30 years. That means you can be confident that they will keep working even when degrading slowly throughout their life. 

The only issue is that if you buy outside of a licensed dealer, you likely won’t attain the warranty or promise of how long they will last. They also may have already been used for a while and could be underperforming to your standards.

What Happens To Solar Panels After 20 Years Of Use?

After many many years, the siliconized material degrades and will produce less electricity. This is due to temperature fluctuations during harsh winters or summers when they become too hot or cold and begin to contract.

There’s also the possibility of physical damage from natural debris.

Likewise, It’s important to keep them regularly maintained by cleaning them properly and removing objects or debris that prevent full production. Luckily, they should still work well after this time, and you may still have time if you are given a warranty. 

Can I Install a Used Solar System?

With the right tools, knowledge, and space It’s possible to build and install a DIY solar generator or power hub yourself, and it could save you a lot of money by avoiding installation costs done by professionals.

Unless the country you reside in requires certifications and has strict electricity guidelines. Additionally, if you do it the wrong way, you might end up ruining the entire system, and you could lose everything you paid and worked for hours on. 

You’ll also need loads of experience with electrical wiring because high-voltage scenarios can be deadly if you don’t know what you’re doing. This is why it’s recommended to pay for a professional to do it for you.

You should still know that it will take a lot of time and effort, and could set you back a lot of hours that could have been saved by hiring a licensed technician.

How Cheap Are Used Solar Panels?

Second-hand panels will vary in price depending on what kind you get, but you can expect to pay around $0.10-$0.60 per watt-hour. Used panels can be found on online marketplaces that specialize in this niche, or you can even find them on eBay or Amazon as well. 

You can expect to pay at or below $50 for a singular used 200w-250w solar panel. However, that is not always the case in every location, and shipping them cross-country or across the world isn’t easy.

Always be on the lookout for new deals in your area to save on moving costs.

Can I get Solar Panels For Free?

You can find many people who want to upgrade or throw away their old equipment for newer, more efficient panels but don’t want to pay for transporting their previous panels or for the cost of dumping them in a landfill. 

If you do a Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace search every day, you may see a few listings that come at no charge.

Sellers are probably looking to give them away because they take up a lot of room. Keep in mind that listers might require you to move or relocate the materials yourself.

Nonetheless, solar panels do have high demand, and people will be more likely to sell their second-hand materials rather than give them away for free. It might take some deep searching or patience to find them for no cost.

Should I Buy Used Solar Panels Wholesale?

You can save a lot of money when you buy in bulk. Warehouses that get new inventory will sell their used lots for significantly less, and you’ll likely be able to buy them in pallets (10-20 panels) which is more cost-effective than single panels.

Used Solar Panels Pallet

One of the most common ways of buying solar panels is through large truck pallets, which come at a discount. Again, buying in large amounts will ultimately save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. 

A lot of ten 175-210 watt solar panels will come to around $600-$700, and a fully-loaded pallet of twenty or more 200-watt units will come to around $1,500-$2,000.

Where to Find Used Solar Panels In Europe

In Europe, solar panels are easier to come by than in North America because the demand is a bit higher, and the infrastructure generally operates a higher percentage of solar panels, around 18% in the European Union alone. 

You’ll be able to find them primarily in the wholesale market, and there is a great place called SecondSol that specializes in the used marketplace. 

Here, you can filter on the left-hand side to only show used products, condition, age, and more. There is no shortage of pages to scroll through and find some options, and most likely, there will be one close to your country. Plus, there are other useful resources, and they sell inverters as well!

FAQ

Can You Reuse Solar Panels? 

Yes, you can. If you choose to reuse solar panels by buying them from someone who has already had them installed, you may run into problems such as malfunctioning panels. 

Is There Gold in Solar Panels? 

Most solar panels do not have gold in them. Some tech companies are attempting to integrate gold into new models as a way to conduct electricity more efficiently, and because gold is easy to melt down into certain shapes.

References

*eBay was also used as a reference for online pricing*

General Solar Panel FAQ

What Problems Do Solar Panels Solve?

In environmental terms, solar panels can potentially solve a handful of problems, including;
1. Air pollution
2. Water pollution
3. Greenhouse gases
4. Reduction in fossil fuel use

For individuals, solar energy allows you to become completely self-sufficient when it comes to your electricity needs and can save you a lot of money in the long run.

What Are 3 Important Uses Of Solar Panels?

The three most important uses of solar panels are;
1. Solar electricity. This can be used to power almost any appliance in your home, including TVs, computers, and fridges.
2. Lighting. In addition to the use of low-power, LED lightbulbs, solar panels can provide an efficient, low-cost, and environmentally friendly way to provide lighting to homes. 
3. Portable solar. In our modern, always-connected lives, our phones, tablets, and computers are almost always with us, and all run on batteries. Portable PV chargers can help keep our batteries topped up no matter where we are, as long as there is some sun to charge them.

Do solar panels give you free electricity?

Once the cost of the array is paid in full, the energy it produces is free. There are ongoing maintenance costs, too, such as annual panel cleaning, etc. 

How much will my electric bill be with solar panels?

Suppose your solar array includes a solar battery backup system, and it is large enough to fully cover your energy usage per day. In that case, your monthly electric bill will be next to zero dollars, even with a grid-tied system. 

If your solar array does not include a solar battery backup system, then at night, your house or business will use grid electricity. That cost will vary but expect to pay from 1/3-2/3 of your average electric bill, and that cost will fluctuate seasonally. 

Do you save money with solar panels?

The simple answer is, Yes, you save money with solar panels. There is an initial upfront cost, but since solar panels are warrantied for 25 years, you will save money over time. You will also begin to see monthly savings in energy bills, but there are other ways that solar panels pay you back. Those include:
1. Adding value to your home or commercial building 
2. Monthly decreases in energy costs
3. The ability to add more energy appliances without increased monthly costs
4. The potential for tax credits for going solar

Can solar panels power a house 24-7?

Most definitely! Solar panels can certainly power a house 24-7, with the addition of a high-quality inverter and a suitable battery bank, of course. To power, a house under normal usage will require a massive solar array, though, and there will be a very expensive initial financial outlay.

Do I need to tell my energy supplier I have solar panels?

This depends on where you live, but in most cases, it’s not necessary to inform your energy supplier that you have solar panels. That said, you may be producing excess power with your solar system, in which case you may be able to sell that excess power back to energy companies.

In this case, you’ll naturally need to be in contact with them. 

What Are Solar Cells Known as and Why?

Solar cells are also called photovoltaic (PV) cells. They are called so because the term ‘photovoltaic’ literally means light i.e. photo and electricity i.e. voltaic.

These cells generate electricity through the photovoltaic effect. This effect basically causes the generation of free electrons from the semiconducting silicon material of the solar panel when sunlight hits its surface.

What Type of Solar Panels Are Most Efficient and Why?

There are currently three types of solar panels available in the market that are:
1. Monocrystalline
2. Polycrystalline
3. Thin-filmed

Among these, monocrystalline solar panels are known to be the most efficient among all others.

Does heat enter your home through the roof?

Absolutely. Heat enters your home through your roof, and on a hot day your attic can get up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit or more. Through conduction, heat from the sun warms your roof which then warms your attic and the rest of your home.

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