When it comes to outdated solar panels that begin to lose efficiency, there are a number of ways to safely and sustainably dispose of them. We’ve touched already on how to recycle old solar panels in Solar Panel Recycling: How to Recycle Your Solar Panels, but recycling isn’t your only option. Old solar panels can actually be used for a bunch of upcycling projects, saving you time and money on trying to find the right way to recycle them. Here is a list of ways you can consider upcycling old solar panels and giving them a second life.
Take them on vacation
Yep, a fun fact about solar panels is that they’re not totally useless once they stop producing an efficient amount of energy for your home. In a lot of instances, you’ll still have the ability to generate some energy with them that’ll power you for at least a few hours.
If you’re going on a holiday, they’re actually a great addition to your packing list. If you’ve got the space to bring them in a trailer or campervan, you can use them while you’re away to generate electricity, even if you’re in the middle of nowhere. And, trust us, you’ll be thankful you did…
Upcycle into furniture
If you love creating something new from something old, upcycling your old solar panels into furniture is a great idea. You can easily turn them into a centre table that can act as a statement piece, perfect for striking up conversations. Due to their aluminum bottom, they’re pretty easy to weld, meaning it’s not a tough task to attach some legs and turn your old solar panels into something really special for your home.
Use them for insulation
Solar panels work really well for creating walls and insulation, offering an affordable (and unique) building material to make your home even more eco friendly. A study from 2011 showed that a building’s ceiling was five degrees (Fahrenheit) cooler using solar panels than under an exposed roof. At night, these panels helped to retain heat, reducing energy costs through the winter. This means that whether you’re looking at insulating your home or even your outdoor shed, old solar panels can be used effectively and easily for this purpose.
Create a greenhouse
This is the most common use of old solar panels. A greenhouse is generally made up of glass and so are solar panels. Combine the two and you’ll be able to keep your plants warm through the colder months through their ability to insulate, while also creating a unique way to keep your plants happy and healthy.
Build a fence
At 1.4 – 2 metres high, solar panels are a perfect height for creating a fence. If you’re looking to create a backyard or property enclosure, old solar panels are an ideal alternative to usual fencing materials. They’ve got just enough height for you to look over, while keeping the neighbours out and privacy at a maximum. We’d recommend discussing this option with your wife first, though… She may not like the new look as much as you will.
If you love sustainable things, it’s likely you’ve probably already considered getting yourself some chickens (if you haven’t already). They’re a great addition to your home, providing protein, reducing food waste and fertilising your garden. But the best thing about incorporating them into your home at this point is that your old solar panels can provide an excellent structure for their housing. It means you can kill two birds with one stone (not literally) and make the most of sustainable living, at a lower cost than most chicken owners.
It’s not just chickens that can enjoy the fun of your outdated solar panels. Solar panels are thick and weatherproof, meaning they can provide a stable palace for your pooch. It’ll also help to keep their home insulated and mean you won’t have to worry about them getting weathered as they would if built out of wood. Plus, you can easily paint them and add their name to the door with ease…
Your solar panels might be a little outdated to power your whole house, but have you considered a panel or two on the shed/garage? You can easily take your shed or garage off the grid by setting your old solar panels up to them. It means you can power lights, power tools, or even consider giving that electric car a sustainable boost.
Use them as shade
Thinking of adding a shade sail or additional roof to your outdoor area? Consider using your old solar panels for this purpose instead. It’ll help you keep your space cooler during the summer months and protect any plants or objects from sun or rain damage. Plus, they’re a lot more efficient than shade sails and can really pack a kind punch to your energy usage in the long run. Just imagine sitting outside on those cool but sunny days and enjoying the breeze, instead of having to lock yourself in your home with the fans and wait for the sun to go down to start enjoying the day…
There are so many ways you can dispose of your old solar panels once they’re producing less energy. But recycling isn’t always an easy option and donating them can feel just as hard. Similarly, the energy it takes to recycle these mechanisms can make you wonder how sustainable it really is. So, if you’re the sort of person who loves to spend some time working to breathe new life into old and outdated items, upcycling your old solar panels is a great option. We hope these ideas help you decide how best to do so or even inspire you to create your own new and unique way to upcycle them. We’re sure the world would love to see what you create.
If you have any further questions on how to donate, recycle, or even upcycle your old solar panels, feel free to give us a call anytime or contact us via our website here. We can also help you decide whether or not your current solar panels are starting to run their course and how to move forward from there.