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Acquiring Cheap or Free Solar Panels For Your Home

While free solar panels may be hard to come by, the idea of free or cheap green energy production doesn’t have to be a dream. You can actually find free solar panels -or at least very cheap ones - if you know the right places to look.

In the current economic market, sometimes it may feel like it’s hard to do your part for the environment because of the high costs that people associate with green energy. Many people would be willing to experiment with more eco-friendly energy production methods if they had the resources - such as solar panels - given to them for free.

If you’re looking into using solar power for your home, and you like the idea of constructing the system yourself, then finding slightly damaged, used solar panels may be the cheapest and easiest option to begin with. There is always the option of completely constructing the solar panels yourself, although most homemade solar panels tend to be ineffective when compared to commercially purchased solar panels, even second-hand ones.  By finding or purchasing used solar panels, you can reduce the impact that new solar panels can have on the planet, as well as on your wallet.

Used Doesn’t Equal Garbage

solar panelsUsed solar panels can be found for free or purchased quite cheaply, provided you know where to look and what to do with them. Why would anyone give away used solar panels, you may ask? Well, the answer lies in the large disposal fees associated with throwing away solar panels. This is great for you, the small time solar consumer, as it means that you may be able to get used solar panels for a great deal, or possibly even for free.

Many of the used solar panels out there will most likely be damaged, but that’s to be expected as there aren’t many people willing to part with a solar panel in perfect working order. However, just because a solar panel is damaged, doesn’t mean it’s worthless. 

While damaged solar panels will normally only produce between 10 to 70 percent of their expected energy output, that doesn’t mean they don’t still produce energy. You should still test the output of any panel before you decide to take it (more on this later). The majority of solar panels used by companies are thrown out whenever they are chipped or cracked because they are deemed broken, although in reality a slightly damaged solar panel can still generate a large amount of power for many years, albeit at a diminished capacity. With a few simple repairs, most of the used panels you’ll find can be quite effective at cheaply producing solar energy for your home.

Places to look for free solar panels

Finding free solar panels may require a bit of detective work, but it’s worth all of the effort when you can finally lay your hands on some quality used panels. The first place to start your search is by looking in your neighborhood or town for solar panels. You’ll notice solar panels on road signs, and often road construction signs will be powered by solar panels. Note any place you see solar panels for later use. You can look up these businesses online or in the yellow pages, and call and inquire as to what they do with their panels when they become damaged. You can also look for used solar panels in your local newspaper or in online want ads such as Craigslist. You’ll probably have to pay for these panels, but you can save a bundle of money by purchasing and attempting to repair slightly damaged panels. Used panels are a great option for those who can’t afford or simply don’t want to spend the money on expensive new solar panels.

Getting the Most Out of Used Solar Panels

  • Test the output
  • Inspect closely and note all signs of damage
  • Making repairs

Testing the Output of Used Solar Panels

multimeterThe first step is to test the output from the solar panel and learning how to use a multimeter. Check the output and compare it to the amount of volts the solar panel is rated for. If you have a 24 volt solar panel and it is only producing 2 volts, then it might not be the best option as it will take up a lot of space for such a little output. If the panel shows a diminished output, but doesn’t appear to have any visible damage, then it might be best to look elsewhere. However, if there are a few visible cracks or chips, then maybe a simple repair will increase its yield. It’s hard to know which panels will continue to decrease their output, but use your best judgment when purchasing used products, especially online.

Inspecting Your Used Panels

If there are signs of visible damage, be sure to inquire as to how the damage was caused. Some types of damage, such as small cracks and chips, can be easily fixed, while repairing major damage may be beyond your own technical knowledge. This doesn’t mean that panels with large cracks aren’t of any use, but be sure to always test the output before putting any panels on your home.

Repairing Used Solar Panels

Some solar panels can be quickly repaired with a few products from your local hardware store, while other repairs require a little more advanced technical knowledge. If there are small cracks in the glass on your panel, you can use silicone to seal the crack and prevent water from entering and fogging up your panel. If the crack is in the actual solar panel itself, it may be necessary to use solder or epoxy to try and repair it. Another aspect to check is the connections on the back of the solar panel. There is a good chance that these connections have partially come loose, which can result in lowered or unsteady output. If you find a loose connection, you can weld it back together with a soldering gun.

If you are willing to do a thorough search – which we advise you to do! - you can find quality free solar panels, or at least cheaper alternatives to new, more expensive panels for your roof, like solar shingles. With a little knowledge and know-how, you can quickly find used panels and repair them for use in your own home so you can finally start to break free and become energy independent, lessening your impact on the planet.

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