Should You Buy Second Hand Solar Panels? Written by Beth Howell Reviewed by Charlie Clissitt Updated on 30 June 2022 ✔ A used solar panel can cost as little as £50–£70✔ Second hand panels can be a risky investment ✔ An MCS-accredited installer can't certify an installation with used panelsThe public is increasingly using renewable energy to combat climate change and energy bills, but for most people, there’s one thing getting in the way of utilising solar energy: solar panel costs.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. All you need to do is fill in this quick form with a few details, and our expert installers will be in touch with free tailored quotes. Where do you want to install solar panels? Roof Ground Both Other / not sure Get started What’s on this page? 01 Are second hand solar panels a good idea? 02 Advantages and disadvantages of second hand solar panels 03 Pros of second hand solar panels 04 Cons of second hand solar panels 05 How much do second hand solar panels cost? Are second hand solar panels a good idea?Investing in second hand solar panels isn'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 might have underlying damage that won't be obvious to the naked eye, 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! Want to get a better idea of what it’s like to own a set of solar panels? Check out our case study with Andrew, based in North Yorkshire. Andrew had a 3.95 kWh solar panel system installed in June 2022, which cost roughly £6,000. Despite electricity prices increasing around the world, Andrew’s panels are already saving him £32.93 per month on energy bills. He's also projected to save around a tonne of CO2 a year with his panels.Check out the full interview with Andrew to learn more about solar panels. Advantages and disadvantages of second hand solar panelsProsConsCheaper upfront costCould be faultyMore environmentally friendlyReduced efficiencyFaster return on investmentShorter lifespanPossibly higher maintenance Where do you want to install solar panels? Roof Ground Both Other / not sure Get started Pros of second hand solar panelsCheaper upfront costOne 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 friendlyOne 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 investmentThe average household that purchases a 3.5 kWp solar panel system today will break even on the solar panel cost in 15.1 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. 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! Cons of second hand solar panelsYou still need to pay for an installerAlthough 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 faultyUsed solar panels might be cheap for a reason – whether it’s because they’re faulty 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.However, some faults, such as micro-cracks, might not be visible.Reduced efficiencyThe average solar panel efficiency for residential panels is 18-22%, although premium models can reach over 23%.Newer models are also more efficient than older second hand ones, since solar panel efficiency reduces by an average of 0.3% 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 lifespanThis 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 maintenanceWhen 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 systemHow old it isThe type of panelWhat condition it is inWhere you buy it fromQuestions you should ask before buying second hand solar panelsSince 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?SummaryBuying 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 – and you’ll still have to pay for the other materials, such as the inverter and mounting equipment, plus the installation cost.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. Written by: Beth Howell Content Manager Beth has been writing about green tech, the environment, and climate change for over three years now – with her work being featured in publications such as The BBC, Forbes, The Express, Greenpeace, and in multiple academic journals. Whether you're after a new set of solar panels, energy-saving tips, or advice on how to reduce your carbon footprint, she's got you covered. Reviewed by: Charlie Clissitt Editor Charlie has been researching and writing about the home energy market for over five years, and he has been the editor of The Eco Experts since 2021. Charlie's thoughts on solar panels have seen him featured in various publications, including The Times, Ideal Home, and Grand Designs Magazine. Ever since he can remember, Charlie has worried about the planet, and he one day dreams of owning a solar power farm.