Upgrading or Replacing Solar Panels: Which is the Better Option?

21 Apr 2023

In today’s world, renewable energy is becoming more important as we face the challenges of climate change. Solar panels are a popular choice for generating clean energy, but as technology advances and panels age, homeowners may wonder whether it’s better to upgrade their existing panels or replace them altogether. We’ll explore the pros and cons to help you make the best decision for your specific situation.

Solar system upgrade options

There are normally 4 ways to upgrade your rooftop solar system if you want to generate more power.

  1. Add solar panels to your existing string inverter (if that’s possible).
  2. Add panels with micro inverters. (Costly and less common)
  3. Add an additional solar power system.
  4. Remove (or move) the old system and replace it with new one.

Key takeaways for Upgrading or Replacing Solar Panels

  • Homeowners may wonder whether to upgrade their existing panels or replace them altogether.
  • Options for upgrading include adding panels, upgrading the inverter, or removing/moving the old system and replacing it with new.
  • Upgrading solar panels can improve efficiency, and lower costs compared to full replacement.
  • Before upgrading, consider the inverter’s capacity, energy needs, cost of new panels, and roof structure.
  • Panels may need to be upgraded or replaced if they’ve decreased in efficiency, household energy needs have significantly increased or if panels are damaged
  • Solar panels can be damaged by debris, hailstorms, or water damage.

Start your journey to energy independence today by reading this comprehensive guide to solar panels.

Upgrading Solar Panels

Upgrading solar panels involves making improvements to an existing solar system. There are several advantages to upgrading, including:

  • Improved efficiency: Upgrading components such as the inverter, types of panels, batteries or wiring can increase the system’s efficiency, which can result in greater energy production and lower utility bills.
  • Better warranties: Many solar panel manufacturers offer warranties that cover the panels and other system components. Upgrading can extend or enhance these warranties, providing more protection for your investment.
  • Lower costs: Upgrading can be more affordable than a full replacement, especially if the existing solar panels are still in good condition and the system only need minor improvements.

Upgrading an Existing Solar Power System

Solar photovoltaic systems are built to order. And because specialists must work around existing hardware (and occasionally, existing software as well, as in the case of solar monitoring), extending or upgrading them becomes an even more specialised task.

Adding more panels to increase energy production, upgrading to a higher-quality/larger inverter, or changing the mounting system to optimize the panels’ angle or position on the roof can result in better performance of your PV system.

Before deciding on an upgrade, it’s important to consider several factors, including:

  • What the inverter can safely handle: If the inverter is not able to accommodate more or upgraded panels it may not be feasible.
  • The household’s energy needs: Upgrading may be worthwhile if the household’s energy needs have increased since the initial installation of the solar panels.
  • The cost of the new panels: Replacing solar panels can be expensive, so it’s important to weigh the costs against the potential savings over time.
  • Roof structure: If the roof is able to accommodate additional panels

Overall, upgrading a solar system can be a good option for homeowners who want to improve the efficiency and performance of their solar system without a significant financial investment.

When to upgrade or replace solar panels

  • When the panels have decreased in efficiency: As the panels age they become less efficient at converting sunlight into electricity.
  • More power generation: If the household’s energy needs have increased significantly, it may be more practical to install a new solar system with higher capacity than to upgrade the existing one.
  • If the panels are damaged: If the panels have been damaged in any way. Severe weather events, such as hailstorms, can damage solar panels and reduce their efficiency.
  • Solar Incentives: Government incentives or regulations favour newer technology or more efficient solar systems, which may make replacing the panels a more attractive option to produce excess power that can be fed back into the grid.

3 Common Ways Solar Panels Can Be Damaged

Tree branches, Leaves and Dirt:

Your solar panels can get scratched by debris, which will reduce the panel efficiency. Maintain the trees around your house to prevent debris and branches from landing on your roof. For best effectiveness, keep you r panels clean and wash them with a garden hose and a soft cloth.

Hail Storms:

Hailstorms are no exception to the rule that bad weather is harmful to roofs and solar panels. If there is extreme weather in your location, it could cause damage to your PV panels.

Water Damage:

Your solar panels are sealed. Check there is no water ingress and ensure the panels are water-tight.

Recycling and disposal of solar panels

When it comes time to replace or dispose of your solar panels, it is essential to dispose of them responsibly. Solar panels are designed to last for several decades and need to be disposed of correctly. Many solar panel manufacturers have established recycling programs to help with the disposal of solar panels. These programs often involve breaking down the panels into their component parts, such as glass and metal, and recycling them.

solar panel component construction

Deciding to upgrade your solar

Deciding whether to upgrade or replace solar panels depends on several factors, including the age and condition of the existing panels, the household’s energy needs, and available budget. To help make the decision, consider the following steps:

Evaluate the existing solar system: Determine the age and condition of the existing solar panels, inverter, wiring, and mounting system. If the system is relatively new and in good condition, upgrading or adding an addition system may be a more cost-effective option. However, if the system is old and in need of repairs or replacement, it may be time to consider replacing with a larger system.

Consult with a professional: Before making a final decision, send us a WhatsApp message, email or give us a call and a member of our SrsSolar team can provide you with advice on the best options for your specific situation and help you make an informed decision.