If you are interested in buying solar panels, you may cross your head to buy second-hand or used plates to lower costs. But you should know that making this purchase can cause you a lot of headaches or fall into fraud.
Second hand solar panels, is it a good idea?
In the article that we write today, we will try to guide all those who are looking for solar panels for their installation and for budget reasons, are considering the option of buying second-hand solar panels . It is a continuation of our article on cheap solar panels that we published recently.
Everything we present in this article is based on our experience, with more than 10 years of activity in the supply of photovoltaic panels, but also on that of many of our clients that we have known over the years. We begin:
Where do used solar panels come from?
That is, without a doubt, the first question we must ask ourselves. The answer already gives us a clue to the risk involved in buying these panels.
Second-hand solar panels can come from individuals but most come from large photovoltaic installations that have had production problems, that is, they have a lower production than they should, and therefore they are no longer profitable for their owners (generally large investment funds). For that reason, they are exchanged for new ones, and the used ones end up in the used panel market.
That is to say, we start from the basis that, in the vast majority of cases, the panels used are usually of poor quality and / or with performance problems .
There is no doubt that installing a solar energy system for your property implies, at a minimum:
- Give added value to the property (house, warehouse, factory …).
- It will become a great asset to the property
- It will reduce electricity bills and reduce the pollution generated.
When you decide to buy some photovoltaic panels, you should make sure that they work efficiently and that the installation process is carried out correctly. If you risk buying second-hand solar panels and then try to install them yourself, without proper technical training, you risk wasting time and, above all, money.
Therefore, buying second-hand solar panels to save a little money might seem like a good idea at the time, but we must take into account a series of very important details before making that decision:
Second-hand solar panels have a lower performance than new panels:
If we buy solar panels that have been used and have been broken or damaged, then they will not produce all the energy that they should, so we are already losing part of the investment made.
The photovoltaic cells are very fragile and if not handled properly and if damaged dramatically decrease performance. The worst thing is that it is very difficult to see with the naked eye if one or more solar cells are damaged . They are called micro-cracks, or “micro-cracks” in English, and they are very common in used solar panels. You will not be able to see them, why they are at a microscopic level, but they are one of the reasons why a solar panel ends up not working.
As we discussed, some used solar panels can come with obvious damage, but most of this damage will not be appreciated for a while .
If we buy photovoltaic panels that have already been used, we must also take into account that we are already going to have solar panels with a shorter useful life .
It is not a good idea to buy panels that have had several years of use, because we will have to replace them much earlier than if they were new, so, in the end, we will spend more money than if we had bought new ones .
They do not have a guarantee:
Many second-hand panels available online do not have a manufacturer’s warranty. So, in the event that at some point we have a performance problem, or poor performance, there will not be a manufacturer that responds to those panels .
When we buy new solar panels from a distributor, they always come with the current factory warranty, and backed by the purchase invoice, so that, in the event of any incident, the manufacturer will be responsible for their replacement or repair or refund.
Perhaps an idea could be haunting our head:
Repair or fix a solar panel? By no means, if a solar panel presents problems, it must be replaced, as its repair is so expensive that it is meaningless. Therefore, once again, risking to buy second-hand photovoltaic panels is a technical and economic recklessness.
In addition to this, all manufacturers include an installation manual that must be respected to preserve the panel’s warranty, if this manual is not respected, all warranty is lost , and unfortunately, if we buy a second-hand solar panel, we will never be able to know how they were installed on their first use .
Think about it, with the price of current solar panels, it is not worth repairing a solar panel that, in the best of cases, will produce much less than a new one.
A hotbed for fraud:
Another aspect to take into account is who is the manufacturer of the solar panel that I am going to buy? Although it seems like a somewhat absurd question, it is not.
In a large majority of the cases of second-hand solar panels that are offered online, the label on the panel has been manipulated , that is, the original factory label has been removed and a new one has been put on.
What consequences does this have ?:
- We will not be able to claim the original manufacturer (because we will not be able to know him)
- Nor will we know if the electrical data on the label are real (which they will not be).
Conclusions – Is a second-hand solar panel worth it?
We agree that the price is lower than that of a new panel, but as we have explained, its performance will also be much lower and we will not have a factory warranty. Remembering that to have a factory warranty, we must provide an original purchase invoice and that this warranty is for 25 years. You should not give it up to save a few euros.
Do not be fooled by the low prices of these second-hand solar panels, as they will end up being much more expensive than the new ones.