Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Facts on buying used solar panels

Solar panels have dropped in prices by more than 40% in the last two years but regardless of this they are still quite an expensive renewable energy option for many homeowners and small businesses. This is the reason why plenty of people consider option that include buying used solar panels. Older solar panels can sometimes prove to be a real bargain and save you plenty of money, so this is definitely an option worthy to consider, particularly if you're on a very tight budget.

Nonetheless, you should be very careful when buying used solar panels because without the basic knowledge you could also end up buying some worthless or broken solar panel, and this is something you definitely want to avoid. Let's start from the beginning.

The first thing you should do is make the visual inspection in order to avoid buying solar panels with obvious damage. Solar panels with obvious damage (cracked, scratched, etc.) are usually the least expensive option but you should only buy these panels if you possess appropriate knowledge and technical skill to successfully fix these flaws.

The second thing you should pay attention to is the age of solar panel. As solar panels grow in age their efficiency tends to drop. The very important fact to mention here is that solar panels lose their efficiency only if they are actually used, meaning that stored solar panels do not lose their efficiency over the years. However, determining the actual age of given solar panel is not easy to do since some photovoltaic cells outlive their stated lifetime mark.
Solar panel also needs to have sound structure, meaning that if panel wasn't sealed properly there was a great chance for exposure to moisture, and moisture can have major negative impact on solar panel's efficiency.

Also make sure to test solar panel with voltmeter to measure its voltage. A 12 volt panel should show about 21 volts in maximum sunlight while panels designed to be connected in sets of 4 should show 4 to 5 volts. When it comes to voltage you should also be aware that if voltage fluctuates a lot or the voltage isn't 21 volts in maximum sunlight then there is great possibility that there is some damage with solar panel's internal circuitry (in most cases caused by corrosion). Fixing the damage with internal circuitry requires advanced engineering skills so unless you have them definitely avoid buying these panels.

You should also avoid buying used marine solar panels because they were likely exposed to lot harsher conditions than their land counterparts; salt water, for instance, makes corrosion more rapid so these solar panels are usually in the advanced state of corrosion.

Also older solar panels usually require more space per wattage than modern solar panels meaning that you need to provide them more space to use them in full capacity, and this can be an issue for some homeowners with shortage of available space.

No comments: