Is buying used solar panels worth it?

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In the EU, UK, USA etc, the market of used solar panels has long been developed. Private owners, power plants and industrial facilities are constantly updating their solar panels, replacing the old with more advanced ones. And decommissioned solar panels are for sale to new owners. For example, since 2010 the website SecondSol.de has been operating in Germany, this is a platform where thousands of used and new solar panels are sold, as well as accessories for them, electric vehicles and everything necessary for your own power plant. In Ukraine, this market is just beginning to develop.

Will a used solar battery work at all?

Yes, the power of solar panels is really lost over the years. But with a life of up to 20-40 years, a solar battery that has worked for 5-10 years can still serve the new owner. Especially considering that typical power degradation is only 0.5% per year.

Dependence of the level of degradation per year on the type of panel

Type of a solar panelYear degrading
Silicon
Monocrystalline (mono-Si)0,36%
Polycrystalline(poly-Si)0,64%
Amorphous (a-Si)0,87%
Non-silicon
Cadmium Telluride (CdTe)0,4%
Copper-indium-gallium selenide (CIGS)0,96%

The best choice is used mono-crystal silicon solar panels. Low rate of degradation and reasonably affordable price makes them very attractive to buy. But do not forget about telluride cadmium solar panels as well. A low annual degradation rate and a relatively low price are supplemented by some features: such panels work better on cloudy days, with partial darkening, and also work better across the entire radiation spectrum.

What else do you need to pay attention to?

The metrics above are typical. That is, it cannot be said that every single-crystal panel in the world will degrade at a rate of 0.36% per year. It all depends on many factors:

  • Manufacturer;
  • Model and technology;
  • Partial shadowing and adverse conditions;
  • Storage and care.

In fact, we can get a solar panel, which in 10 years of operation has lost only 2-3% of the power, and we can get a battery that on a sunny day only shows 50% of the declared power, although it is relatively new. For example, panels in power plants can show good results even after 40 years of operation. Because they were used in the right way. Although such batteries will already be considered technologically obsolete.

Manufacturers are required to indicate the level of degradation of the solar battery in its technical specifications. For example, modern panels have a low degradation rate and are often indicated directly on the “box”. Older models cannot please with such an advantage. They degrade faster, have worse power performance at low light levels, incidence of rays at an acute angle, and partial shadowing.

Remember! That you do not receive a guarantee when buying used solar panels. In the event of their failure or malfunctions, you will not be able to replace them under warranty or repair them in a service center.

Solar market fraud

Improper operation entails consequences. Strong temperature fluctuations, partial shading and other factors accelerate the degradation of crystalline as well as thin-film amorphous batteries. Finding such a “dead” solar panel on the market is very easy. Therefore, you should be very careful and always ask:

  • Actual power obtained at the beginning of operation;
  • Actual power received during decommissioning;
  • Conditions of use;
  • Year of manufacture, manufacturer and article.

The ideal case is when you buy solar panels that have not yet been dismantled and you have the opportunity to come and check them yourself. So you are 100% sure of the purchase. It is worth remembering that there are also scammers and unscrupulous sellers on the solar panel market who can overstate real power indicators to make a panel more pricey.

Why do they sell solar panels?

Does it make any sense to sell something that saves money or makes a profit? If we consider the solar energy market, then yes, it makes sense. Batteries are constantly evolving. The power level per $100 is constantly growing. The level of degradation decreases, new functionality appears, resistance to shading, weather conditions, and impacts increases as well.

Solar panels are similar to smartphones or computers – their productivity is also growing from year to year and large power plants regularly change panels to more efficient ones. Solar panels resistant to different operating conditions appear, and private owners replace the old with more reliable and functional new ones.

The market of used solar panels in Ukraine

Now the market for pre-owned solar panels in Ukraine is not yet developed. There are no separate websites, platforms and other ways to find a buyer or seller whom you can trust. On familiar bulletin boards, there are no ways to moderate and filter out potential scammers or unscrupulous sellers. Therefore, when buying, it is important to be extremely careful.

The acquisition of used solar panels abroad is also associated with problems. It is worth remembering about duties and delivery, which together can far exceed the cost of a brand new solar battery. Especially considering that the difference between a new and used panel is often only 10-30%.

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