7 Reasons not to Install Secondhand Solar Panels
By Peter Sutrin, Electrician
Published December 15, 2022

If you’re looking to install a solar system, the many options can be confusing, especially with how fast the industry and product offerings are changing. Although the cost of systems has dropped drastically over the last few years, and efficiency has increased, they’re not always in everyone’s short-term budget. 

We often talk with customers considering installing second-hand solar panels as a more budget-friendly alternative. The bad news is that second-hand panels severely limit your installer options and can be unsafe, and even illegal. Below we’ve outlined some of the main reasons we recommend customers don’t install older panels. 


You can’t claim STCs  

Small Scale Technology Certificates (STCs) are an incentive the Government offers for new solar installations. They reduce the cost of the system, based on the number of watts. This incentive is only available on new systems. 


They may not meet Australian standards

According to AS5033, panels must be tested and certified to IEC 61215 and IEC 61730 (panel manufacturing standards). As standards and rules change, older panels no longer meet these requirements, meaning installing them may be illegal. The CEC approved module list is a quick way to check which panels still meet Australian Standards.


CEC approved module list

This list includes all the solar panels in Australia that currently meet the Australian Standards. If a solar panel isn’t on this list, it’s not legally allowed to be installed, although the standards don’t impact existing systems. The CEC approved module list is a way to verify that a make and model of solar panel meets the relevant Australian Standards. 

Fire ratings

Systems installed since 2013 may not meet updated requirements which include a fire rating and high-density conduit. They strengthened these requirements for a reason. 

With the many rapid advances in the industry over the last ten years in terms of safety, it’s a much wiser choice to install a newer system and achieve peace of mind. 


Safety issues

When a panel is removed from one location and installed in another, the risk of damage is often high. Even if not visible to the naked eye, microcracks can appear which can lead to breakage much sooner than anticipated. 



In most cases, warranties won’t apply for panels that have been removed from their original installation location and moved to a new location. Installers are also unlikely to provide workmanship warranties, as there is a good chance the installation is being done off the books and breaking a range of rules. 


Lower efficiency

Continuous efficiency improvements are being made in the solar industry, and panels are regularly being released which are larger and more efficient. While a 1.5kw system may have cost $20,000 in 2012, a 6.6kw system may only cost $8,000 in 2022. Secondhand panels are more likely to be less efficient, meaning fewer savings on your power bills.


In the end, the process of testing and installing older panels, as well as the safety risks and problems with finding a good installer, mean that it’s more energy efficient and safer to choose a quality solar installer and a new system that meets Australian standards.