Some of the lowest prices for solar equipment can be found on sites like eBay, where people can post their used solar panels for sale a discounted price. In this article, we will look into the used solar panel market, and whether buying panels from a reseller is the best option for your home solar setup.
What are “used” solar panels?
For the vast majority of solar installations, your solar provider will install a system of brand new parts, from your panels to your inverters to the wiring. A quick online search for used solar panels will show you several buying options for second-hand equipment, coming from bidding sites like eBay to wholesale used panels from several vendors.
Panels may be sold used for several reasons. They may be slightly damaged, leading to a lower efficiency, or they may be from someone who doesn’t want some or all of their panels anymore. No matter the reason for the sale, used solar panels can be enticing for their low prices and low-stakes utility in DIY solar projects.
Should you install new or used solar panels?
While used solar panels can be a good fit for certain types of projects, for the majority of solar customers, they present more problems than they are worth.
There are several hidden costs associated with purchasing and installing used panels:
1. Used panels are often damaged
Damaged or otherwise already used solar panels produce energy at a lower efficiency than advertised. This is because, over time, the output of a solar panel drops incrementally. Many large commercial solar projects will have damaged panels from time to time, and an easy way to minimize financial loss on those panels is to resell them at a discounted price.
2. The solar industry is still evolving and expanding rapidly
This means that new panel technologies are constantly being implemented and sold at rapidly falling prices. Even a used panel in good condition from a few years ago will have outdated photovoltaic technology, and will produce electricity less efficiently than a new panel. For this reason, you end up saving more money over time by opting to install newer, more efficient panels as opposed to paying less upfront for an outdated solar cell model.
3. Availability of solar warranties
Most solar manufacturers will provide both production and equipment warranties when you purchase a solar energy system, guaranteeing that your panels will produce at certain efficiencies and protecting you from physical damage or failure. Used panels don’t always have that luxury attached to them, and you are vulnerable to low production or failure without any kind of coverage plan. Because used panels have already been operating for some time, they are likely producing at a lower efficiency than they began at, as all solar panels will degrade over time. Additionally, there is no good way to verify that used solar panels will even work in the first place, and you might end up purchasing completely broken or unusable equipment.
Used solar panels can be the right fit for some projects
For some homeowners, used solar panels may be a smart purchase. For example, if you don’t want to power your whole home with solar, and instead are looking for a way to charge a small battery, buying a few used panels is a low-stakes, inexpensive way to get your energy. A common way to employ used panels is on boats, where having on-board power can be difficult due to space. Mounting a couple used panels on your boat’s canopy will give you enough energy to power a cellphone or an extra light while you’re out on the water without having to worry about damaging new equipment.
Outfit your home with the ideal solar setup
If you are looking to install a solar system on your roof, as a carport, or as a ground mount system, buying used solar panels can cause more problems than they solve. Fortunately, on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace, you can solicit quotes from verified installers at competitive prices. If finding the lowest price for solar is your priority, simply make a note on your account that you are looking for inexpensive options, and installers will know to tailor their quotes to your preference.