Every time I meet someone new and they ask why I write a blog, I tell them about solar power. Yes, I usually discuss the upsides of going solar, but there are both solar power pros AND cons.
Only thorough information on both sides of the column – for and against solar – can guide a homeowner or business to a sound decision about whether to install solar panels. So let’s go over both sides of the debate!
Upsides of Solar - Solar Power Pros:
1. Long term payback for the investment. Solar panels increase the value of your home and can help your home sell faster, as well. Over time, you’ll pay for the solar panels with the money you save on monthly electricity bills. The return on investment (ROI) period has dramatically decreased in recent years as efficiency has gone up and prices of solar panels have fallen.
2. Live greener. Solar panels are an eco-friendly way to power your home. They are more environmentally-friendly than relying on coal. Even the manufacturing of solar panels causes substantially less impact to the environment than burning (let alone mining) coal.
3. Get paid by your utility company with Net Metering. When your solar panel array generates more power than you are using at the time, excess energy may be fed back into the grid. Your meter may actually spin backward, as you accumulate “credits” to be used if/when you need to draw on the grid in the future. Very energy efficient families may even make money by consistently feeding in excess solar power, rather than drawing on the grid.
4. Enjoy Low Maintenance Power. Contrary to popular belief, solar panels are incredibly low maintenance. Simply keep them free and clear of dust, debris, overhanging vegetation and snow – when possible! If something does go wrong, many manufacturers offer protective extensive warranties.
Downsides of Solar – Solar Power Cons:
1. Initial Investment. Of all the downsides of solar power, this one is the largest factor that prevents people from installing panels on their home or property. Fortunately today, you can purchase your own solar panels through a variety of financing options, including property assessed clean energy loans. There are other means to help afford solar panels, including leasing options and solar power purchase agreements.
2. Appearance/Aesthetics. Let’s face it: some people just do not like the look of roof-mounted solar panels. In fact, some homeowners’ associations believe that solar arrays reduce property value due to a negative aesthetic impact. But there is good news on this front, as well. Building Integrated Photovoltaics like solar roof shingles blend seamlessly into your roofing material, while generating clean solar electricity. In addition, attitudes are evolving concerning the look of solar panels. Some people actually seek out properties that “boast” their energy efficiency and green nature.
3. Efficiency Limitations. In recent years, manufacturers have developed more and more efficient solar panels. However, the technology simply does not work overnight, and they are less effective during inclement weather. No, it does not need to be a bright, sunny day. Solar panels generate electricity simply from exposure to UV light – even when filtered by clouds. Grid-tied systems can draw on power if the panels do not generate enough to serve their needs. Net metering allows consumers to off-set utility bills by any excess solar power they feed back into the grid. To go off-grid, however, you will need a battery in which to store solar electricity for use after the sun goes down.
What do you believe are the biggest upsides and downsides of solar power? Which factor has the greatest influence on a decision whether or not to go solar?