The increasing popularity of solar panels and flooding of the market with cheap, poorly produced solar products has created perhaps the biggest irony of our lifetime: the mounting accumulation of discarded solar panels and batteries, many of which are sent to landfill.
As the adoption of solar energy accelerates, the number of photovoltaic (PV) panels reaching the end of their lifespan is increasing exponentially. In this article, we’ll delves into the reasons why opting for cheap solar panels and batteries can lead to detrimental consequences, highlighting issues such as product quality, warranties, environmental impact, long-term value and a check-list of things to look for when choosing a solar retailer/installer.
What is the problem with cheap solar panels and batteries?
As a country, we now stand at the precipice of a staggering problem: a projected 450,000-tonne heap of discarded PV panels by the year 2040.
A multitude of these panels are likely to be semi-functional or contain valuable materials that could be recycled and repurposed rather than consigned to landfills. With the estimated number of solar panels projected to surge from 100 million to over 2 billion by 2050, the urgency to address this issue is now becoming paramount.
What factors contribute to solar landfill?
A variety of factors contribute to the growing number of solar panels and solar batteries entering landfill, including:
- The poor quality of many solar products
- Poor warranties on cheap solar panels and batteries
- Lacking customer support from inexperienced companies
- Low-quality panels that are more likely to malfunction
…and much more.
Put simply, if solar panels are cheap, of a lower upfront cost, or the deal seems too-good-to-be true, beware of the possibilities of:
- Poor-quality construction
- Poor aesthetic design
- Low-quality materials and build
- Low or non-existent warranty period
- Lower energy savings over time
Understanding the hidden costs of cheap solar panels and solar batteries
While the allure of low upfront costs may seem tempting, cheap solar panels and batteries often prove to be a false economy.
Inexpensive panels are frequently plagued by low quality and high failure rates, resulting in early manfunctioning, replacement and decommissioning. These subpar products not only lead to environmental and landfill wastage but can also impose significant financial burdens through warranty and insurance claims.
Thus, investing in reliable, higher-quality solar solutions with significant warranty periods offers vastly increased long-term value and performance.
Here are five things to look for when faced with the decision over which Victorian solar retailer/installer to go with:
Tip 1: Look for solar panels and batteries with a long warranty
One of the critical differentiators between reputable solar panel retailers/installers and cheap alternatives lies in their warranties and customer support.
Established and experienced companies like G Store pride ourselves on offering products with robust warranties that reflect confidence in their longevity. In contrast, budget options may offer limited or unreliable warranties, leaving you without a method recourse in case of solar panel defects or premature failure. Choosing a reputable manufacturer (such as SunPower, whose high-quality SunPower Maxeon solar panels deliver a massive 40-year warranty) ensures ultimate peace of mind and protection for your investment.
Tip 2: Aim to avoid landfill
The disposal of prematurely malfunctioned solar panels into landfill wastage contributes to environmental degradation and squanders valuable resources.
What’s more, cheap solar panel companies rarely offer a buy-back or trusted method of disposing of old systems, which contributes to the loss of precious resources. Even non-functioning panels contain valuable materials such as silver, aluminium, silicon, glass, and copper. Adopting a circular economy approach, wherein panels are treated as assets and repurposed, mitigates environmental harm and maximises resource recovery.
Chat with G Store today about how we can help you get rid of your old, legacy solar systems responsibly and ethically before replacing them with something that will stand the test of time.
Tip 3: Opt for long-term value over upfront costs
While the low initial cost of cheap solar panels and solar batteries might seem attractive, these products often fail to deliver the long-term savings and benefits of high-quality alternatives.
Premium solar solutions, although pricier initially, offer superior efficiency, durability, and performance over time. When considering the lifetime energy production and reduced maintenance costs, the higher upfront investment translates into greater overall savings.
What’s more, the ample availability of government solar rebates and incentives can make a big dent in the initial cost of solar panels and solar batteries. It really does pay to do your research regarding the Victorian solar rebate (and other associated rebates) for which you may be eligible. You can read more about solar and solar battery rebates here.
Tip 4: Recognise the importance of product stewardship
Choosing reputable solar panel and battery providers supports the concept of product stewardship, which emphasises responsible manufacturing, usage, and disposal.
Reputable manufacturers adhere to stringent Australian and international standards, align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, promote recycling, maintain proper codes of ethics, and ensure traceability of their products. This approach not only safeguards your investment but also contributes to the growth of a vastly more sustainable solar industry.
Be brave and ask your solar retailer the question: are the products they sell ethical?
Tip 5: Be aware of the circular economy for solar panels and solar batteries
To address the impending solar panel crisis, many reputable retailers, solar manufacturers and installers are now proposing a more stringent, co-cordinated circular economy model.
Treating used panels as valuable assets rather than landfill waste can unlock social, economic, and environmental benefits. A comprehensive approach involving policies, regulations, repair warranties, certification standards, and product traceability is required to establish successful markets for used solar PV panels and batteries. As such, it’s obvious that careful and thoughtful collaboration between consumers, insurers, manufacturers, and policymakers is crucial to overcoming key economic barriers in the fight for a more sustainable future.
But how to begin? As we suggest, by asking more questions:
Questions to ask your solar retailer
- What product warranties do you offer?
- Are the solar panels you sell ethical? In what ways?
- What is your process for managing a panel failure, malfunction or recall?
- What is the nature of the ongoing customer support that you offer?
- What is the failure rate of the solar panels and solar batteries that you sell?
- Can you give me a full price comparison, including rebates, on the solar panels and batteries that you sell?
What’s our top advice?
Don’t let any sense of stress or overwhelm stop you from taking the first steps on your journey towards going solar and getting the best, high-quality product for your needs.
We can’t wait to speak with you.