3 surprising pros and cons of choosing used solar panels you need to make before making a decision.
3 surprising pros and cons of choosing used solar panels you need to make before making a decision.

3 Surprising Pros and Cons of Used Solar Panels

What You Need to Know Before Making a Decision

If you're considering getting a brand-new solar, well, that might take a considerable chunk of your finances. And we're looking at a substantial bill, possibly reaching $25,000, and that's before getting any tax refunds and rebates.

Now, if you're someone who keeps a keen eye on your budget, the notion of cutting costs on this significant purchase is undoubtedly appealing. This is where used solar panels come into play – a cost-effective option for many homeowners. But, hold on a moment! It's not as straightforward as it initially seems. The positive and less-than-ideal aspects of opting for pre-owned solar panels can be a bit of a mix. In this blog post, we're delving into the specifics of both sides, assisting you in determining if selecting used solar panels aligns with your requirements. Let's break it down and see if this is your way to achieve substantial savings on solar energy.

Why Might You Consider Used Solar Panels?

Setting up solar panels at home usually involves using all-new equipment like panels, inverters, and wiring. However, if you're on a budget or looking for a sustainable option, you might want to consider used solar panels. You can find them on various platforms like eBay, wholesale vendors, or even on Amazon.

Used solar panels can be a great choice for those embracing solar energy without breaking the bank. Beyond the cost savings, choosing secondhand panels aligns with a more sustainable approach, giving existing equipment a new purpose.

If you're worried about the quality, many used panels are still in excellent condition, offering an affordable option for DIY solar projects.

As DIY solar projects gain popularity, used panels provide an exciting opportunity for hands-on, eco-friendly endeavors. Transform your space into a green energy hub without a hefty price tag.

When considering used solar panels, pay attention to specifications and check for any visible damage. Choose sellers with positive reviews to ensure you're getting a reliable product. By doing so, you not only contribute to a sustainable future but also make solar energy accessible to a broader audience.

How Much Do Used Solar Panels Cost?

Choosing used solar panels comes with a major advantage: they're significantly more affordable compared to brand-new ones. The cost of used panels can be as low as $0.10 to $0.75 per watt, a remarkable difference from the average $2.86 per watt for new solar panels in the U.S. However, it's important to note that used systems often include a variety of panels with different usage histories – some lightly used, others heavily used. Homeowners should carefully weigh this factor when weighing the pros and cons of opting for used solar panels.

Pros of Buying Used Solar Panels

The big advantage of getting used solar panels is the money you save upfront. However, it's essential to think about the long haul – the lifespan and the warranty left on a used solar panel might impact your overall savings.

Before diving into these considerations, let's explore the positive aspects of initially choosing used solar panels.

Cost Savings

When you pick used solar panels, you're not just saving cash upfront; you're making a smart move for your wallet. These panels cost way less than the brand-new ones, giving you a money-saving option, especially if you're on a tight budget.

Used solar panels may be pre-loved, but that doesn't mean they lack efficiency. Many of these panels still have plenty of energy to harness, making them a cost-effective solution for those seeking reliable performance without the hefty price tag.

Furthermore, the affordability of used panels opens doors for more people to join the solar energy movement. It's a practical entry point, allowing a broader audience to benefit from renewable energy without compromising their financial goals.

So, whether you're looking to tighten your budget or maximize your investment, choosing used solar panels aligns with both financial prudence and sustainable energy goals.

Environmental Benefits

When you opt for used solar panels, you're not just stretching their lifespan – you're actively contributing to your sustainability objectives. It's a win-win scenario where you not only reduce waste but also soften the environmental blow linked to the production of new panels.

Moreover, choosing used panels aligns with the growing global push for sustainable practices. You become part of a larger movement, promoting the circular economy by giving existing technology a second chance.

This decision not only lessens the demand for new materials but also saves energy that would have been used in manufacturing fresh panels. It's a small yet impactful step towards a greener future, where every effort counts.

So, when you choose used solar panels, you're not just making a smart financial choice; you're actively participating in a more sustainable and environmentally friendly energy solution.

Time-tested Reliability

Solar panels are designed to endure the passage of time, often accompanied by warranties lasting from 20 to 25 years. Opting for a used solar panel isn't just about getting a piece of equipment; it's about choosing a technology that has withstood the test of time. Despite being previously used, its reliability remains intact.

Think of it as the choice between a new car and a well-maintained used car from a trusted dealership. The pre-owned vehicle, depending on its age and condition, can be just as dependable as a brand-new one. In the same vein, a used solar panel, with its track record, continues to deliver reliable performance, making it a sensible and cost-effective choice for those considering sustainable energy options.

Moreover, by selecting used solar panels, you contribute to the sustainable use of resources and minimize the environmental impact associated with the production of new panels. It's not just a practical choice; it's a step towards a greener and more responsible energy future.

Risks Associated with Used Solar Panels

Whenever you buy something used or fixed up, there's a bit of risk involved. While getting used solar panels might be a money-saver at first, it could end up costing you more in the long run because they might not last as long and might need more fixes.

Here are a few things homeowners should keep in mind about the risks of going for used solar panels


When considering used items, like solar panels, it's crucial to understand why the owners are selling them. Maybe they don't need the panels anymore—perhaps they've sold their home or shifted to grid power. Another possibility is that the panels faced damage or defects post-warranty expiration.

Furthermore, since these panels have a history of use, they become more prone to future wear and tear. This increases the likelihood of needing frequent repairs or regular maintenance to ensure they operate at their best. So, while the upfront cost might be lower, it's essential to factor in potential ongoing expenses for upkeep. Always weigh the savings against the potential maintenance costs before making a decision.

Gradual Loss of Power

Solar panels naturally become less efficient over time, dropping about 0.5% in performance each year. So, if you're using panels that were previously installed elsewhere, they've already lost some efficiency before coming to your home.

Choosing used panels may mean you'll have lower efficiency over the long haul, leading to the need for extra panels to meet your home's energy needs. Going for newer solar panels could be a smarter move, giving you better efficiency and potential long-term savings.

Missing Warranty Coverage

Surprisingly, many used solar panels don't include warranties. This leaves you unprotected if there are problems with the product, if the installation isn't great, or if your home gets damaged during setup.

On the flip side, when you go for new solar panels from well-known brands like LG and Panasonic, you get a manufacturing warranty that safeguards your investment. Reputable installers also offer a warranty package covering equipment, installation, and any impact on your roof. It's a good idea to aim for the top-tier 25-year warranty package for maximum protection.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying Used Solar Panels

Before you go for used solar panels, here are some important questions to consider.

Is the Seller Trustworthy?

Not every place that sells used solar panels is reliable. Some panels might have hidden issues, like burned-out parts or loose connections. Just looking at pictures might not be enough; it's essential to check if the panels are tested. Also, make sure you can confirm how old they are and their current condition.

Why are These Panels for Sale?

Solar installers usually add new panels to their setups, but they don't often remove working ones. So, when thinking about buying used panels, find out where they come from and why they were taken off their original setup. It's possible they didn't perform well, or the model has a reputation for issues, and the previous owner wanted to play it safe.

Have I Thought About the Full Picture in My Savings Calculation?

Saving money is a big deal, but it's not the only thing to consider with used solar gear. If the panels are already a decade old, they might generate 5% to 10% less power, meaning less savings on your energy bills. The shorter lifespan of used panels can also impact your overall return on investment, depending on how old they are.

The Bottom Line

If you're thinking about getting used solar panels to cut costs on your renewable energy system, it may seem like a good idea upfront. However, it's important to consider the potential long-term expenses. Homeowners should carefully weigh the associated risks when deciding on the best approach for their residential solar system.

For expert guidance on procuring a solar energy system, turn to the experienced professionals at Forme Solar. We're committed to providing unmatched 25-year warranties covering residential solar panels, inverters, racking, roof, workmanship, and performance.

Reach out to us at 1-714-694-2262 or fill out our online form for a complimentary consultation and quote. Our dedicated energy consultants are ready to assist you in making well-informed decisions.