Cheap Solar Panels Are Out There
Solar panels are expensive, but if you are willing to put some time and effort into the search, there are plenty of solar panel deals available. Taking a little extra time to search for the right panels at the right price can pay off big time. When you are installing a solar system, saving money on the installation means that your first investment is smaller and your payback period is shorter. The less you spend on your system installation, the sooner you will be free and clear of electricity costs.
Of course, it is not all about minimizing cost. You still want to get quality equipment. Quality solar panels will last longer and provide free electricity for more decades than poorly made solar panels. When looking for online solar panel bargains it is important to keep quality in mind and don’t settle for the cheapest panels just because they are the cheapest.
So, what are the options when searching for cheap solar panels for sale?
New Solar Panels on Clearance
It is a good idea to start your search by browsing online solar stores. They often have solar panels on clearance where you can pick up some great deals. You can usually save 20-30% when buying solar panels on sale.
Solar stores also receive blemished solar panels from time to time that they will sell for reduced prices. Blemished panels usually have some visual imperfections but are still just as functional as the full price panels.
The advantage to looking at stores first is that it will give you a good feel for the solar panels currently available and their going price. You will get familiar with the terminology and begin to recognize the popular brands and features.
Used Solar Panels
If you want to save more money, look around for used panels. Many solar panels have warranties of 20 years and produce electricity for many years after that, so even used solar panels have a lot of life left in them. Be aware that a solar panel’s efficiency decreases with age, so you may need an extra panel or two to get the same output as you would from new panels. This isn’t a big deal when you are saving a lot per panel.
When buying used, be extra careful of damaged solar panels. It is best not to buy used solar panels sight unseen. Go check them out in person if you can to check their quality and any damage. Look for cracked glass casing and condensation inside the panel. Condensation can diffuse sunlight when it strikes the panel, drastically decreasing its efficiency. If possible, put them in sunlight and use a multimeter to check their power output.
Some places to look for used solar panels include Craig’s list and eBay. Craig’s list is great because you can do a search to find people selling used solar panels in your area. This makes it easy to go by before you commit to buying and check them out. Ebay is another place where you can find some great deals on solar panels but it is less likely that you will be able to see the panels in person before buying. For this reason, only buy from people you trust and when you have access to photograph documentation of each panel you buy.
Make your Own
Buy Solar Cells
Another option is to buy individual solar cells and construct your own solar panels. You can get wholesale prices on solar cells if you buy them in bulk. If you do not use all the solar cells for your project, you can resell the extras for a slightly more than your purchase price. Give your friends a good deal or auction them off online.
If you do not want the hassle of reselling, then eBay is a great place to find solar cells. Sometimes you can find ‘seconds’ for a fraction of the cost of perfect cells. Just like blemished solar panels, these often still work, but have a visual blemish or trivial imperfection.
Make Solar Panels
If you are making your own panels from individual solar cells, you will need to build a frame for them and wire the cells together. The frame provides structure and protection from the weather. Wood or metal both work well for the back and sides of the frame, but wood is easier to work with. A plexi glass top will protect the cells and allow sunlight light to reach them. A single solar cell only generates about half a volt, so about 36 cells go into one panel, wired in series, to supply a reasonable amount of voltage.
Detailed instructions on how to make solar panels are difficult to come by if you are looking for free information. The first place to check is your local library. There are also many solar guides available online that walk you through the process. These guides are for sale, but most are reasonably priced.