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Should You Buy Second Hand Solar Panels?

A used solar panel can cost as little as £50–£70

Second hand panels can be a risky investment 

An MCS-accredited installer has to set up second hand panels


More people are looking into renewable energy as climate change worsens and energy bills are pushed to record heights.

But for most people, there’s one thing getting in the way of buying renewable energy products – the cost.

In fact, our annual National Home Energy Survey found that 69% of people ranked cost as the most important factor when evaluating which low-carbon product to purchase.

To overcome this barrier, some people are buying second hand solar panels, rather than investing in brand new ones. Sound appealing? There are a few things you should know before you get stuck in – and we’re here to show you.

If second hand panels aren’t right for you, it might be worth getting yourself a set of new solar panels. Luckily, we can help you find the best deal with our easy-to-navigate tool. All you have to do is provide a few quick details, and our expert installers will be in touch with free tailored quotes.

Installing second hand solar panels

Are second hand solar panels a good idea?

Second hand solar panels aren’t a terrible idea, but you should definitely take your time to consider the quality of the panel before jumping at the chance.

This is because buying second solar panels can be a bit risky. On the one hand, they can remove the barrier of the high initial costs, leading to reduced energy bills and emissions. On the other hand, they can be quite worn out with reduced efficiency, which means they won’t be very effective.

Either way, it’s worth taking your time to shop around for second hand solar panels – who knows, you might find a great panel for half the price of a new one!

Wondering how to cut your energy bills? Fire up the MakeMyHouseGreen calculator! Provide a few details and it will tell you which green energy products you should buy. From there, you can get free quotes and book a no-obligation consultation call. Get started today!

Advantages and disadvantages of second hand solar panels

ProsCons
Cheaper upfront cost
Could be faulty
More environmentally friendly
Reduced efficiency
Faster return on investment
Shorter lifespan
Possibly higher maintenance

Pros of second hand solar panels

Cheaper upfront cost

One of the main advantages of buying second hand solar panels is how cheap they are compared to brand new ones. A used solar panel can cost as little as £50 on sites like Gumtree or eBay, rather than costing a few hundred pounds for new ones.

Hopefully this means more people will be able to afford them, considering the upfront cost is usually the main barrier to solar panels. Plus, with a lower upfront cost, people can make their money back much faster.

More environmentally friendly

One of the main selling points for solar panels is their environmental credentials. By harnessing renewable energy from the sun, panels can help to seriously cut back on household emissions – or even completely eradicate them.

But solar panels aren’t 100% green – the materials needed to create them and the construction of the panels themselves generate a lot of emissions.

However, by investing in second hand panels, users can avoid these emissions – making their solar panel system even more eco-friendly. Plus, instead of being dumped into landfill, these solar panels will get a second chance in life (although many solar panels can now be recycled).

Faster return on investment

Most households that purchase a 3.5 kWp solar panel system today will make up for the solar panel cost within nine years. However, if you decide to invest in a set of second hand solar panels for half the price, you’ll break even much faster – something particularly appealing during the recent energy crisis.

That said, if you buy a worn-out set of solar panels, you’ll be lucky if they last until the break-even point.

Person installing second hand solar panels

Cons of second hand solar panels

You still need to pay for an installer

Although the solar panels themselves are cheap, you’ll also have to buy an inverter for your solar panels, and you’ll have to pay for an MCS-accredited installer to set up the system.

Alternatively, you can try to install the solar panel yourself, but we wouldn’t recommend doing this, as you could end up injuring yourself or installing it incorrectly.

Could be faulty

Used solar panels might be cheap for a reason – whether it’s because they’re faulty, worn out, or just have low efficiency. And it won’t always be easy to tell because, let’s face it, humans aren’t always truthful – especially when it comes to making money.

One way to avoid getting stuck with a broken second hand panel is to see it in the flesh before buying it. This way, you’ll have a better idea of whether there are any faulty parts – the current owner might even let you test it.

Reduced efficiency

The average solar panel efficiency for residential panels is 15-18%, although premium models can reach over 21%. However, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) suggests that solar panel efficiency reduces by an average of 0.5% per year.

Although this would still generate solar energy and save you on bills, it wouldn’t provide you nearly as many savings as a new model would.

Shorter lifespan

This one is pretty self explanatory. Like any used tech device, a second hand solar panel won’t last as long as a brand new model. But if you’re paying less up front for the panel, this might not matter as much to you.

Possibly higher maintenance

When it comes to buying second hand solar panels, it really is the luck of the draw. Some people are able to get a great, long-lasting panel, whilst others get stuck with a faulty product that breaks after a matter of weeks.

Unlike new products, used solar panels probably won’t come with any warranty either, which means you’ll have to pay for any repairs out of pocket.

How much do second hand solar panels cost?

Generally, second hand solar panels cost up to half as much as brand new models. If you’re buying used panels from places like Gumtree, Bimble Solar, or SecondHand, you could get them for as little as £50–£70.

However, when the panels come as cheap as this, it’s worth asking the seller a few questions to suss out how reliable the system will be – but more on that later.

The overall cost of pre-owned solar panels will depend on a variety of factors, including:

  • The size of the system
  • How old it is
  • The type of panel
  • What condition it is in
  • Where you buy it from

Questions you should ask before buying second hand solar panels

Since it can be quite risky buying second hand solar panels, it’s a good idea to ask the seller a range of questions to gauge how effective they are.

Some important questions to ask solar panel sellers include:

  • How old are the panels?
  • Have the panels had any past issues?
  • Are they still eligible for the manufacturer's warranty?
  • What is the panel’s average energy output?

Summary

Buying used solar panels is certainly risky business – but if you’re willing to take that risk, you could bag yourself some solar panels for half the price of a new set.

However, you could end up paying £50–£100 for a faulty product, with little life left in it.

Don’t feel comfortable taking that risk? It’s worth getting yourself a new pair of solar panels. Luckily, we can help you find the best deal with our easy-to-navigate tool. All you have to do is provide a few quick details, and our expert installers will be in touch with free tailored quotes.

Beth Howell Writer

Beth has a real passion for green living. She’s been absorbed in eco research for over three years, and has become quite the expert. Whether you’re after a new set of solar panels, a home energy improvement, or you want to catch the latest eco news, she’s got your back.

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