Technology in the solar power industry is constantly advancing and trends suggests improvements will intensify in the upcoming years. Between the advancements in solar panel technology, and an increase in competitive pricing within the solar panel industry, solar energy is becoming the main source of energy for more and more families.
If you’re considering installing a solar panel system, you’ve probably already had your share of exposure to solar marketing. To make the right decision for your home, you need to be able to distinguish between the real pros and cons of solar energy and the solar myths that are sometimes communicated in the media.
Advantages of Solar
Renewable Energy Source
Solar energy is truly a renewable energy source and will continue to be a renewable source for at least the next 5 billion years.
Reduce Electricity Bill
Solar panels will produce enough electricity to meet the majority of your energy demands for the household. Exactly how much you save on your energy bill will be dependent on the size of the solar system and your household’s electricity usage.
Not only can you potentially save on your energy bill, but there is also a possibility of receiving payments from the surplus of energy that you export back into the grid (assuming your system is connected to your town’s electrical grid).
Low Maintenance Costs
Solar systems require very little maintenance. Solar panels have few moving parts, meaning less wear and tear on the system as it ages. The inverter is usually the only part of the system that needs to be changed after 5-10 years because it is continuously working to convert solar energy into electricity.
Solar panels do require cleaning a couple times a year to maintain max efficiency. Overall, after covering the initial cost of the solar system, you can expect very little spending on maintenance and repair work.
Long Life Span
Depending on the manufacturer, solar panels’ performance can be guaranteed for 25 to 30 years, but it’s very possible that your panels will go on to produce electricity for longer than that.
A typical solar panel installation comes with two warranties: a performance and equipment warranty. A solar panel’s performance warranty will typically guarantee 90% production at 10 years and 80% at 25 years. An equipment warranty will typically guarantee 10-12 years without failing.
Add to the Value of Your Home
The price of an average rooftop solar installation and battery is generally recouped in the home’s sale price. The average resale value of a home with a Solar Panel installation increases by $4,020 – $5,911 per Kilowatt.
At $4,020 per kilowatt, a 5-kilowatt solar panel installation would add an average of $20,100 to the market value of a mid-sized U.S. home!
Households purchasing solar also acquire lower energy bills and healthy tax incentives that can cover the system’s costs multiple times over.
Technology in the solar power industry is constantly advancing and trends suggest improvements will intensify in the upcoming years. Just in the past ten years, there has been rapid growth in solar technology and an exponential decrease in the pricing cost of solar panel installation.
The cost of a fully installed system dropped from $7.14/watt in 2010 down to around $2.50/watt in 2020. That means you can go solar today for about one-third of what it would have cost ten years ago.
Innovations in quantum physics and nanotechnology can potentially increase the effectiveness of solar panels and double, or even triple, the electrical input of the solar power systems, and further the decrease in installation costs.
Disadvantages of Solar
The initial cost of purchasing a solar system is high. This includes purchasing the solar panels, inverter, batteries, wiring, and installation costs. Nevertheless, solar technologies are constantly developing, so it is safe to assume that prices will go down in the future.
Solar panels can still collect energy during cloudy days and rainy days, although its efficiency drops. Solar panels are dependent on sunlight to efficiently gather solar energy. Therefore, a few clouds, or a rainy day can drastically decrease the amount of energy received from the system.
Expensive Solar Energy Storage
If you don’t purchase a battery, the solar energy must be used right away. Solar batteries allow energy to be stored during the day’s peak sunlight hours and used at night if needed, but they come at premium costs. In most cases, it may be smarter to use solar energy during the day and take energy from your local grid at night. Luckily, in general, the energy demand during the day is much higher than that needed at night.
To get a better idea of the total cost of a system tailored to your home, check out our Solar Calculator!
Uses Lots of Space
The more energy you want to gain from your solar system, the larger it needs to be. Solar panels require a lot of space and some roofs may not be large enough to fit the number of solar panels that you would like to have for your energy demands. An alternative solution to this problem would be to install some panels in your yard, where direct sunlight is accessible.
Associated with Pollution
Pollution related to solar energy systems is far less compared to other sources of energy, but they are not perfect. There is some greenhouse gas emission during the transportation, manufacturing, and installation of the solar cells. Nevertheless, solar energy pollutes far less than any other alternative energy source.
For more information on clean energy sources, check out this great article, ‘Clean Energy,’ from Energy.gov.