Second Hand Solar Panels

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Last Updated on 8th March 2024

Second Hand Solar Panels UK

Second Hand Solar Panels UK: Are They Worth It?

As the cost of living in the UK continues to be a hot topic, you might be considering more sustainable and cost-effective ways to power your home. Solar energy is an increasingly popular choice. It's no wonder that many are turning to second-hand solar panels as a way to save on installation costs.

Grabbing a bargain and giving a pre-loved panel a new lease of life could be a win-win—benefiting both your wallet and the planet.

However, you'll need to find panels that are both reliable and have a decent amount of their lifespan left.

You might also be keen to understand the financial nuances such as incentives available for solar installations, and the legal aspects to ensure your setup is compliant and safe. Don't worry, we'll dive into them as you read on!

Key Takeaways

  • Cost-Effective Solution: Second-hand solar panels present a cost-efficient option for DIY home solar projects or for augmenting existing solar arrays, offering savings of up to 50% compared to new panels.
  • High Initial Investment for New Technology: Brand new solar power systems, especially those equipped with the latest photovoltaic technology, can be prohibitively expensive, often costing double or more than used panels.
  • Sustainability and Savings: Despite the annual reduction in prices for new solar panels, the affordability and lower upfront cost of used panels provide a compelling value proposition for homeowners looking to adopt solar energy without the hefty investment.
  • Practical for DIY and Expansion Projects: Used solar panels are particularly suitable for homeowners interested in undertaking DIY solar projects or those looking to expand their current solar power setups in a budget-friendly manner.

DISCLAIMER: Glow Green do not offer second hand solar panels. This content is for educational purposes only and is correct as of time of writing 08/03/24.

What are Second Hand Solar Panels?

Second Hand Solar Panels

A used solar panel refers to a photovoltaic (PV) module that was part of a solar power system and has been removed for the purpose of resale or repurposing. These panels often originate from disassembled solar installations, which may be due to upgrades, damage repair, or the dismantling of a solar project.

Criteria for a Panel Being Considered "Used"

Any solar panel that has changed hands from its original owner, be it an individual, a corporation, or any entity, qualifies as used. This classification applies even if the panel was merely removed from its packaging without being deployed. Considering the average lifespan of a solar panel is about 30 years, a panel with around 15 years of service is categorized as 'used'.

Refurbished vs. Used Solar Panels

Used solar panels are characterized by having been previously installed and utilized, potentially for an extended period. Refurbished solar panels, on the other hand, are panels that have seen prior use but have been professionally restored to a condition deemed suitable for further use. This restoration process might involve the replacement or repair of certain components.

It's anticipated that used solar panels will exhibit some degree of performance degradation. Conversely, refurbished panels, while possibly not achieving the longevity of brand-new panels, are expected to operate similarly to new ones due to professional refurbishment, including part replacements or repairs.

Finding Reliable Second-Hand Solar Panels

Reliable Secondhand Solar Panels

When you’re in the market for second-hand solar panels in the UK, it's crucial to suss out the best bargains without compromising on quality. Understanding the durability and reliability of used solar panels is key, as is knowing where to shop for them.

Panel Quality and Lifespan

Before you part with your quid, it's wise to:

  • Check the panel's age against its typical lifespan; a solar panel system can last 25-30 years.
  • Insist on viewing efficiency ratings and any available performance data.
  • Ask about the history of the modules; were they subject to harsh weather conditions?
  • Request details about any previous maintenance or repairs carried out.

Check for Used Solar Panel Quality

Aspect to EvaluateWhy It MattersWhat You're Looking For
AgeSolar panels degrade over timeLess than 25 years old
EfficiencyDetermines outputRemaining efficiency rating
HistoryPast conditions affect lifespanMinimal exposure to extreme weather
MaintenanceSignals good care over timeRecords of repairs and upkeep

Trusted Sources and Vendors

Where to find your shiny (well, slightly less shiny) second-hand bargains:

  • Gumtree: The virtual car boot sale of the solar world.
  • eBay: A treasure trove, but watch out for pirates.
  • Scrutinise seller feedback and ratings with a detective's eye.
  • Prefer sellers who specialise in renewable energy for added peace of mind.

Finding reputable vendors

SourceTips for ScouringWhy It's Reliable
GumtreeLook for local sellers; easier to view itemsLocal deals can be verified with a visit
eBayCheck the seller's history and feedbackProvides seller transparency and buyer protection

Comments and Testimonials on Second Hand Solar Panels

Reddit Comments

Considering the option of purchasing gently used solar panels? The Reddit solar community offers valuable insights that could guide your decision.

  • Quality and Performance: Members recommend verifying whether panels still have their UL stickers, indicating they're suitable for grid connection. Despite potential capacity loss, a 350w panel priced at £22 might effectively deliver around 300w.
  • Cost Savings: There's a shared understanding that second-hand panels can lead to savings. However, it's important to note that tax credits are generally not available for used equipment.
  • Lifespan Considerations: Enthusiastic environmental advocates often suggest checking the panel's voltage to ensure functionality. Performing a simple sunlight test can reveal whether a panel is operational or compromised.
TopicReddit Wisdom
QualityUL listed, performance may decline.
CostMore wallet-friendly, but the tax credit's a no-go.
Lifespan and ReliabilityVoltage test in sunlight helps identify potential issues.

Pros and Cons of Secondhand Solar Panels

Pros and Cons

The primary benefit of purchasing second-hand solar panels is their affordability. However, it's crucial to acknowledge the potential negatives as well. Making a decision on whether solar panels suit your needs involves thorough contemplation and an in-depth examination of the panels' condition before committing. Remember, buying used solar panels comes with a strict no-return policy!

Pros of Second-Hand Solar Panels

Cost EffectivenessUsed solar panels are usually 2.5x to 10x cheaper than new ones, offering better value for money. This price advantage is significant for buyers looking to save on costs.
Faster ROIWith a reduced upfront cost, used solar panels can offer a quicker return on investment (ROI), making them a financially attractive option for those looking to save.

Cons of Second-Hand Solar Panels

Installation CostsWhile second-hand panels are cheaper, labor costs for installation remain high, potentially ranging from $2,700 to $4,050 (converted from £2,000 to £3,000) including scaffolding.
Compatibility IssuesMixing and matching different models or types of panels is not feasible with a standard string inverter, limiting flexibility in system design.
Increased MaintenanceUsed solar panels may require more maintenance due to wear and potential faults, similar to buying a used car that may have hidden issues.
Less EfficiencySecond-hand solar panels may be less efficient and have a lower power output than new ones, although this varies based on the age and condition of the panels.

Simply put, second-hand solar panels offer financial benefits such as lower initial costs and faster ROI. However, potential buyers should consider the high installation costs, compatibility issues, likely increased maintenance, and possibly reduced efficiency and output. Careful consideration and research are crucial before making a purchase to ensure that the benefits outweigh the cons.

Financial Considerations and Incentives

Financial Considerations

Purchasing second-hand solar panels in the UK can be easier on your wallet, but it’s not just the price tag of the panels that you ought to consider. From the maze of VAT implications to the various financial scoops on offer, let’s ensure you're not left in the dark financially.

Understanding VAT Implications

When you're snagging a deal on used solar panels, VAT can't be an afterthought. Here's the deal:

  • Goods under 5 years old: Expect to pay the standard 20% VAT rate.
  • Over 5 years old: These are eligible for the reduced rate of 5% VAT.
VAT Rate%
Newer panels20%
Older panels5%

Financial Incentives for Used Solar

Now, onto the bit that brightens your day – financial incentives. Keep your eyes peeled for schemes like these:

  • Solar Panel Grants: Various grants can help subsidise the cost of installation (but usually for new systems).
  • Smart Export Guarantee (SEG): Get paid for the electricity you export back to the grid. Yes, even with second-hand panels!

Let's break down some of the financial terms you might come across:

  • Financial Conduct Authority (FCA): This is the organization that oversees financial companies to ensure they're treating customers fairly. Make sure any credit broker you use is approved by the FCA.
  • Credit broker vs lender: A credit broker acts as a go-between for you and the lender. The lender is the actual financial institution that provides the loan.
  • Commission: This is the fee that a broker gets paid for arranging the loan. It's good to know how much they're making from your transaction.
FCARegulatory body for fairness in financeEnsures you’re not getting a dodgy deal
Credit BrokerArranges loansMust be FCA-regulated for peace of mind
LenderProvides the loanWhere the financial magic happens
CommissionBroker's feeTransparency is key – know what you're paying for

Legal and Safety

When considering second-hand solar panels in the UK, your top priorities should be compliance with legal regulations and ensuring the panels are safe to use and properly installed.

Compliance with UK Regulations

In the UK, including both England and Wales, you must ensure that any second-hand solar panels comply with the country's strict regulations.

  • Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS): Your panels should have been originally installed by an MCS certified installer to qualify for government incentives.
  • Electricity Safety, Quality, and Continuity Regulations: Ensure the equipment meets these standards to avoid penalties.
  • Modern Slavery Statement: Sellers should have a modern slavery statement if they're a larger organisation, confirming ethical practices in their supply chain.
MCS CertificationIndicates approved quality and installation standards.Essential for incentives
ESQCR 2002Governs electrical safety and supply standards.Legal requirement
Modern Slavery StatementAsserts ethical practices in the supply chain.Ethical consideration

Proper Installation and Use

Proper installation and usage are crucial for the safety and efficiency of your solar panels.

  • Professional Inspection: Have the system inspected by a qualified electrician or solar installer before use.
  • Installation Standards: Follow UK industry standards to not invalidate your home insurance.
  • Terms of Use: Adhere to the original terms of use to safeguard warranties and avoid legal issues.
ActionWhy It's NeededResult
Professional InspectionConfirms the system's condition and safety.Peace of mind
Adherence to StandardsEnsures correct and safe installation.Maintains insurance validity
Terms of Use ComplianceProtects warranties and upholds the law.Avoids future disputes

Remember, you're not only saving a few quid, but you're also doing a bit for the planet. Just make sure you're not skimping on the important bits – safety and legality!

How Do You Test Second Hand Solar Panels?

How To Test

Before purchasing a second-hand solar panel, conducting a few tests is essential to assess its actual performance and condition. You will need a multimeter and a little bit of time to evaluate its efficiency. Pay attention to the following aspects:

Test CategoryDescription
Visual ExaminationInspect the panel for any signs of cracks, corrosion, or moisture damage.
Open Circuit Voltage TestOn a sunny day, use a multimeter to measure the panel's voltage output and compare this to the manufacturer's expected Voc.
Short Circuit Current TestSimilarly, measure the current output using a multimeter under sunlight, and compare it with the expected Isc.
Efficiency CalculationGauge the panel's actual efficiency in real-life conditions by dividing the measured power output by the panel's wattage.
Voltage MeasurementIn direct sunlight, adjust your multimeter to measure voltage and check the panel's wattage. Connect the multimeter's positive lead to the panel's positive terminal and the negative lead to the negative terminal. A typical reading should be around 60 volts. If the measurement significantly deviates from this, it might be wise to either pass on the panel or seek a professional's opinion for a more detailed assessment.
Current MeasurementFollow the same steps as for voltage testing but switch your multimeter to the current (amps) setting. After connecting the leads accordingly, observe the reading.A healthy panel should display a reading between 3 amps and 3.5 amps. Readings below 3 amps suggest a potential issue with the panel. In such instances, it's advisable to either forego the purchase or consult with a professional for additional insights.

Are Used Solar Panels Worth Buying?

Are Used Solar Panels Worth Buying

Purchasing a brand-new solar energy system can significantly strain your finances, especially given that the most recent photovoltaic technologies offer double the power output of older models.

However, for home solar installations or expanding existing setups, opting for used solar panels could be a financially savvy decision. The primary allure of second-hand panels lies in their affordability—they can be as much as 50% cheaper than their brand-new counterparts.

While it's true that the price of new solar panels is gradually decreasing each year, the cost efficiency of used panels remains unbeatable, offering substantial savings without necessarily sacrificing much in terms of energy production.

Frequently Asked Questions


Is it safe to buy used solar panels?

Manufacturers craft solar panels to endure for many decades, typically offering warranties that span 20 to 25 years. This means when you opt for a second-hand solar panel, you're acquiring a product that has already demonstrated its durability over time. Hence, a used solar panel shouldn't be dismissed as inferior or inadequate.

Can old solar panels be refurbished?

While certain solar panels may suffer irreparable damage and necessitate recycling through methods like those of FabTech, nearly all kinds of impairment or deterioration are fixable. The primary consideration hinges on the condition of the glass; if the glass remains unbroken, the panel can likely be refurbished.

What happens after 25 years of solar panels?

Solar panels are not invariably destined for replacement after the 25-year mark, but their efficiency in harnessing solar energy will decrease. Despite this decline, solar panels are capable of continuing electricity production for an additional 10 to 15 years beyond their warranty period.

Can solar panels last 40 years?

The most advanced solar panels available today boast an anticipated lifespan of 40 to 50 years, with warranties designed to cover at least half of that duration. This extended lifespan and warranty coverage ensure prolonged protection and value.

Can you mix old and new solar panels?

Integrating various types of solar panels isn't ideally advised, yet it's not strictly prohibited, provided that the electrical specifications of each panel, such as voltage, wattage, and amps, are meticulously matched. The challenge isn't the brand diversity but ensuring the compatibility of electrical characteristics when connecting panels from different manufacturers.

What is the value of used solar panels?

The price for a used solar panel is influenced by several factors including its age, model, overall condition, and performance as determined through testing.

  • Under 5 years: Expect to pay between £0.20 to £0.35 per watt.
  • Age 5-10 years: Price range is typically £0.15 to £0.25 per watt.
  • Over 10 years: Prices drop to £0.10 to £0.20 per watt.
  • Negotiation: Adjust the price based on the panel's condition and how well it performs during testing.