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Is it Worth Buying Second Hand Solar Panels in Australia?

Discover the pros and cons of buying second hand solar panels in Australia in our blog. Learn about efficiency, inverters, safety, and Econnex alternative for informed solar decisions.

second hand solar panels in Australia

Published on 28/05/2024

By William Walton

Solar Comparison

Australia's solar energy sector is booming, with more households and businesses than ever choosing to harness the sun's power to reduce their energy bills and carbon footprint.  

Among the options available, second hand solar panels have emerged as a tempting choice for those looking to save on initial costs. While these panels can offer financial benefits upfront, potential buyers must be aware of several considerations. 

Thankfully, we have the expertise you need to make an informed renewable energy decision. 

Let’s explore a comprehensive overview of second hand solar panels, including their risks and disadvantages. We will also compare these with the features of new solar panels available through our Econnex Solar Comparison platform, highlighting why opting for a new array might be the better long-term choice for your household. 

What are Second Hand Solar Panels? 

Second hand solar panels are photovoltaic (PV) units that another party has previously used before being sold on the secondary market. These panels are typically sourced from various channels, including online marketplaces, auctions, or direct sales from previous owners who are upgrading their systems or decommissioning installations. 

Reasons Consumers Opt for Second Hand Panels 

Some of the most common justifications for purchasing second hand panels include: 

  1. Cost-Effectiveness: The primary allure of second hand solar panels is their lower upfront cost compared to new panels. Consumers on a tight budget are often drawn to the potential savings. 
  2. Environmental Considerations: Some buyers choose second hand panels as a way to further reduce the environmental impact of their energy consumption, reasoning that reusing existing panels extends their lifecycle and delays their entry into waste streams. 
  3. Availability: In some cases, second hand panels can be easier to acquire than new ones, especially if supply chain disruptions are affecting the availability of new technology. 

Check Types of Solar Panels

Common Sources of Second Hand Solar Panels 

Typically, Australian buyers will purchase second hand solar panels via the following channels: 

  • Auctions and Liquidation Sales: Companies replacing their installations or ceasing operations often sell their panels at auctions. The abundance of stock can vary from one location to the next over time. Some months, there may be more second hand solar panels in Brisbane than in Melbourne. It just depends.   
  • Online Marketplaces: Websites like eBay and Gumtree frequently list second hand solar panels, offering various options for potential buyers in particular areas. For instance, there is a growing interest in second hand solar panels in Perth due to local availability and abundant sunshine.  
  • Solar Installers and Retailers: Some businesses specialise in refurbishing and reselling used solar panels. 

While these panels can appear to be a good deal, consumers must be cautious. Let’s dive a little deeper into some of the risks associated with purchasing second hand solar panels in Victoria, NSW or any other state and explain why new panels might be a more reliable and beneficial investment in the long term. 

Risks Associated with Second Hand Solar Panels 

While the comparatively lower cost of second hand solar panels may seem appealing, buyers need to consider several potential risks before making a purchase. These risks can affect everything from the efficiency and lifespan of the panels to the financial and safety aspects of the installation. 

Technical Risks 

  1. Degradation and Efficiency Loss: Solar panels degrade over time, losing their ability to convert sunlight into electricity. Having been in use already, second hand panels might have significantly reduced efficiency, which could compromise the overall energy output and lengthen the payback period. 
  2. Lack of Warranty: New solar panels typically come with a performance warranty lasting 25 years or more. Second hand panels often have no warranty, leaving the buyer with no recourse if the panels fail or underperform. 
  3. Unknown History: It can be challenging to verify the exact age and usage history of second hand panels. Factors like exposure to harsh weather, poor maintenance, or suboptimal installation conditions in their previous setup can further diminish their performance and reliability. 

Financial Risks 

  1. Hidden Costs: The initial savings on second hand panels can be misleading. Additional costs such as inspections, cleaning, potential repairs, or the need to replace inverters to match the older panels can significantly increase the total expenditure. 
  2. Inefficient Energy Production: Due to their reduced efficiency, second hand panels may generate less electricity than expected, leading to lower savings on energy bills and a longer time to break even on the investment. 

Safety Risks 

  1. Damaged Panels: Physical damage such as micro-cracks or water ingress is not always visible but can severely impact the performance and safety of second hand solar panels. Such damage can also lead to electrical hazards or a complete system failure. 
  2. Uncertified Products: Some second hand panels may not meet current Australian standards, which are critical for ensuring safe operation. Using uncertified panels can lead to compliance issues and might even void home insurance policies. 

Explore Top 10 Solar Panels in Australia

Advantages of New Solar Panels 

Choosing new solar panels can come with a host of benefits that often outweigh the initial savings from purchasing second hand panels. When consumers opt for new solar technology, they invest in efficiency, longevity, and peace of mind, all of which contribute to a more satisfactory solar experience. 

Long-Term Benefits 

  1. Higher Efficiency and Performance: New solar panels are at the forefront of photovoltaic technology, offering higher efficiency rates. This means they can convert more sunlight into electricity, ensuring maximum energy production even in limited spaces. 
  2. Longer Warranties: Manufacturers typically offer long-term warranties for new panels, often around 25 years for performance and up to 10 years for materials and workmanship. These warranties protect consumers against defects and ensure sustained performance over a longer period. 
  3. Reliability and Durability: New panels are tested under stringent conditions to meet global and national standards. This rigorous testing ensures that the panels are capable of withstanding adverse weather conditions, from hail to heavy rain, without significant degradation. 

Financial Incentives 

  1. Government Rebates and Feed-in Tariffs: In Australia, consumers who install new solar panels can benefit from various government incentives such as Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs), feed-in tariffs, and local grants. These incentives can significantly reduce the upfront cost and improve the return on investment. 
  2. Predictable Energy Costs: With new solar panels, consumers can more accurately predict their energy production and savings. This predictability comes from stable and high efficiency, which contributes to consistent energy output and helps manage electricity bills more effectively. 
  3. Increased Property Value: Homes equipped with new, modern solar systems are often more appealing to potential buyers. This can increase property values and make the home more marketable should the owner decide to sell. 

Econnex: A Reliable Partner in Solar Technology 

Through Econnex's solar comparison platform, consumers can explore a wide range of new solar panels, comparing features, prices, and performance to find the perfect fit for their energy needs. The platform makes it easier to understand the benefits and long-term savings associated with new solar technology, guiding consumers towards making an informed decision that aligns with their financial and environmental goals. 

By choosing new solar panels through Econnex, customers not only invest in quality and efficiency but also support sustainable energy solutions that benefit the entire community. 

FAQs

  1. Are second hand solar panels worth buying?  Second hand solar panels can be worth buying if you're on a tight budget and can verify their condition, history, and efficiency. They offer a lower upfront cost but come with risks such as reduced efficiency, lack of warranty, and potential hidden costs. It's crucial to weigh these factors against the long-term benefits of new solar panels. 
  2. Is it safe to buy used solar panels?  Buying used solar panels can potentially be safe if they meet current safety standards and are free from significant damage. However, second hand panels may lack warranties and have an unknown history, which can pose safety risks. Ensure they are inspected by a professional before installation. 
  3. Can I sell my old solar panels?  Yes, you can sell your old solar panels through online marketplaces, auctions, or directly to buyers looking for cost-effective alternatives. Ensure they are in good condition and provide potential buyers with accurate information about their age, efficiency, and performance. 
  4. How often do solar panels need to be replaced?  Solar panels typically have a lifespan of 25-30 years. However, their efficiency may decrease over time. Panels should be replaced when their efficiency drops significantly or if they sustain damage that affects their performance. Regular maintenance and monitoring can help extend their lifespan. 
Solar Comparison
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