pros and cons of solar energy

If you’re looking to install solar in your home or business, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of solar energy. Solar has many advantages, but nothing is perfect – it has its drawbacks too!

What are the pros of solar power?

Solar power is a clean, renewable source of energy that allows you to gain control of rising energy prices, slash your electricity bill, and reduce your carbon footprint. Durable and long-lasting, solar energy systems work in most climates and may even allow you to earn some cash.

Let’s take a look at the benefits of solar power in more detail.

1. You can reduce your electricity bills with solar power

Many people install solar panels in their home or business for one simple reason: to reduce their electricity bill. Solar power can greatly slash or even eliminate entirely the amount of money you spend on electricity.

The exact amount you will save depends on a range of factors, such as the value of your monthly electricity bill and the capacity of the solar system you install. However, with the rising cost of electricity these days, you can be assured that the savings will be significant.

2. Solar can improve the value of your home

Like many home improvements, installing solar panels in your home will almost certainly increase its resale value. Solar systems will make your property more attractive to future buyers because it will be more eco-friendly and have potential for energy savings.

A 2015 study by the Department of Energy that analyzed 22,000 home sales across eight states found that a PV system added around $15,000 to the value of the sale. So even if you move house before you’ve recouped your initial investment through savings on your monthly electricity bill, you’ll likely get most of it back with a higher sale price.

The benefits are less clear for businesses, but commercial properties with solar are equally attractive to investors, especially given that they allow potential buyers to control their future expenses.

3. Solar is better for the planet

As a renewable source of energy, solar power is much more environmentally friendly than other common sources of electricity, particularly coal. Unlike coal-powered electricity, solar power doesn’t produce carbon emissions which contribute to climate change.

Currently, around 46% of all CO2 emissions come from burning coal, contributing to climate changes that we’re already seeing destabilize the world’s natural environment. If left unchecked, greenhouse gas emissions could warm the earth by as much as 40 degrees Fahrenheit, causing widespread drought, violent natural disasters, crop failure, and rising sea levels.

Switching from coal-based electricity to solar power also helps reduce the other environmentally-devastating impacts of coal, including air pollution, water pollution, and the destruction of natural habitats through coal mining.

4. You can gain control over rising energy costs

There’s no denying that energy costs are rising and will most likely keep doing so in the future. Your home or business’ electricity bill can be a significant expense, and one that you have little control over.

Installing your own solar system means that after the initial cost of installation, you’ll only need to pay modest maintenance costs, so you don’t need to worry about the cost of your electricity sky-rocketing.

USA residential electricity price growth graph
Source: Statista

Add to this that the cost of setting up a solar system is cheaper than ever. Systems are significantly more affordable than they were even a few years ago, and there’s a range of tax rebates and government incentives to further reduce costs.

5. You can earn money from going solar

Most states (38 in total, plus DC, American Samoa, US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico) now offer net metering, which allows you to earn money through feeding energy back into the grid. Under this policy, the electricity authority gives you credit for the surplus electricity that you generate through your solar system but don’t use.

Solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) is a similar scheme that can allow you to earn credits or even financial reimbursement through the energy your solar system produces. You’ll need to check if your state offers either of these schemes, but if so, you’ll be able to enjoy instant rewards and a long-term return on your investment.

6. Solar panels have a long lifespan

Solar panels are made using the latest photovoltaic (PV) technology and are highly durable and will last a long time. They can withstand hail, snow, and other harsh weather, and typically last up to 25-35 years.

solar panel with photovoltaic technology
Solar panel made with photovoltaic (PV) technology

This makes solar energy a long-term investment that will pay off in a range of ways, from reduced ongoing energy costs to earning credits, not to mention allowing you to reduce your carbon footprint!

7. Solar works in many climates

There’s a myth that you can only rely on solar power in a warm climate. In fact, excessive heat can reduce the amount of voltage solar panels produce, so they work more efficiently in colder temperatures.

Of course, solar systems require a certain amount of direct sun exposure, and the more exposure, the more energy they will produce. However, modern solar panels are pretty efficient and will generate a decent amount of energy with less sun exposure.

Having said that, if you live in an area that receives less sun, you may need a larger solar system compared to a location that gets a lot of sun.

8. Solar is a proven technology

Solar is far from unproven and untested – this technology dates back to the late 19th century. It has been widely used for decades to provide power to homes and businesses, so you can be confident that it is a reliable and versatile energy source.

The US now has a total solar photovoltaic capacity of more than 100 gigawatts. This is enough to power more than 12 million American homes.

9. Solar power is progressive

Arguably, fossil fuels like coal and oil are outdated. These types of energy sources not only produce greenhouse gases and have other negative impacts on the environment, but they’re non-renewable.

The earth’s known coal reserves are predicted to run out by 2060, so we won’t be able to rely on coal-powered electricity for much longer. Moving forward into the future, we need to look for energy that’s sustainable over the long term without damaging our natural ecosystems.

Modern solar systems use the latest technology to harness renewable energy to generate electricity and power your home or business.

What are the drawbacks of solar power?

Just about everything has its pros and cons, and solar power is no exception. From the high initial investment to the complexity and aesthetics, it’s important to critically assess the drawbacks of solar power to decide if it’s the right choice for your home or business.

1. Solar panels can look unattractive

You may have seen homes with older solar panels sitting high off the roof with bulky silver frames.

Luckily, technological advancements mean that modern solar panels are sleek, minimalist, and sit snugly on your roof, as well as being suitable for a range of roof types.

solar panels on a roof of the house
Unlike older models, modern solar panels have a sleek design and don’t ruin the aesthetics of the house

These days, solar panels are available in a range of colors, so you can choose a system that looks great on your home or business. Alternatively, depending on your roof space, you may be able to install your system so that it is not visible from the street.

2. Solar power won’t work at night

As you may have guessed, solar power only works when the sun is out. This means that in most solar setups, you can only use solar during the day, and you’ll need to rely on other power sources at night.

This is not such a big issue for offices that only operate during the day, but homes and some businesses will need to rely on either the utility grid or other renewable energy systems such as home wind turbines overnight.

However, you can get around this problem by incorporating a battery into your solar system. This will store the excess power generated during the day that you can then use at night or on gloomy days when there’s limited sunlight.

Luckily, there are plenty of storage solutions for homes and businesses – start by taking a look at this guide to the seven best batteries for solar panels.

3. It’s difficult to install a home solar system

You may be used to doing all kinds of DIY projects around your home or business. However, unless you’re already skilled and knowledgeable about solar power, you’re unlikely to be able to install your own solar system.

Two man on the roof installing solar panels
Installing a solar system is a complex task that requires special skills and knowledge

In most cases, you’ll need to hire professionals to plan, install, and maintain your solar. Solar involves complex technology and expert knowledge to set up correctly, though an expert solar company will be able to handle these difficult processes with ease.

4. Solar is not right for all building types or locations

Although modern solar systems are very diverse and versatile, some buildings are simply not suited to solar. Having sufficient roof space with adequate sun exposure is absolutely essential, and if your roof is not orientated in the right direction or gets too much shade, solar may simply not work for you.

Your best bet is to consult several professional solar companies and see if they can come up with a solution that will suit your building and location. If solar simply won’t work, you can look into other renewable energy options such as home wind turbines.

5. Solar systems may harm the environment

Although solar has many benefits for the environment, from no carbon emissions to reduced air pollution, it can have its drawbacks too. Manufacturing solar panels uses chemicals and energy, and when solar panels go to landfill, the toxic materials they contain can leach out as they break down.

Additionally, transporting supplies and the finished product usually involves using fossil fuels and generates greenhouse emissions.

It’s important to weigh up these potential negative impacts on the environment with the eco benefits of using solar energy. In general, using solar power to replace environmentally harmful sources of electricity such as coal will offset the negative impacts of solar production over the long term.

6. There’s a high initial cost to going solar

As you can probably imagine, solar systems can be pricey. By the time you consider solar panels, other equipment, and installation costs, you’re probably looking to pay in the tens of thousands of dollars.

However, this investment will pay off over the long term through reduced energy bills and potentially even allow you to earn money putting electricity back into the grid. Furthermore, in many states, you can access rebates, tax credits, and financing to lower these upfront costs.

Is solar right for you?

It’s important to weigh up the pros and cons of solar energy before making the decision to install a solar system in your home or business. Solar energy is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint while eliminating your reliance on the grid and slashing your electricity bills.

However, it’s not right for everyone, and your building or roof type may not be suitable for solar panels. Although versatile and appropriate for most climates, solar may not work effectively (or at all) in some locations.

Despite these drawbacks, for most homes and businesses, solar power is an excellent choice!

If you’ve enjoyed this article, take a look at our guides to the most efficient way to heat a home, home wind turbines, and the best off-grid solar panel kits.

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