Pros and Cons of Solar Energy

Pros and Cons of Solar Energy

At our core, we believe in the potential of solar energy. However, we understand that it may not be feasible for everyone. Despite its sustainability and cost-effectiveness over time, solar power demands a substantial initial investment and isn’t compatible with all roofs and properties.

Ultimately, the decision to adopt solar energy depends on whether its benefits outweigh its drawbacks. This article aims to provide you with a comprehensive list of the advantages and disadvantages of solar energy, enabling you to make an informed decision about whether it’s the right choice for you.

Advantages of Solar Energy

  • Energy independence
  • Eliminate electric bill
  • Profitable investment
  • Strong government incentives
  • Sustainable
  • Low maintenance
  • Improves property value

Energy Independence

Typically, individuals rely on utility companies to provide them with electricity. However, when the power grid fails, enduring prolonged periods without electricity can leave one feeling helpless.

Fortunately, owning a solar system with energy storage enables continuous power generation during emergencies. This peace of mind is invaluable, especially if you reside in an area with an unreliable power grid or frequently encounter severe weather conditions like tornadoes and hurricanes. Furthermore, solar energy eliminates the restrictions imposed by utility companies, allowing individuals to live off the grid in remote locations like hunting cabins.

Having complete control over energy production and consumption is liberating. Additionally, with electricity costs on the rise, locking in a fixed rate for electricity over the next several decades feels great.

Eliminate Electric Bill

Reducing expenses is something everyone loves, and with a properly sized solar PV system, you can significantly decrease or even eliminate your electric bill. Even if you opt for a loan to finance your project and extend your payback period, you’ll still enjoy reduced electricity costs from the moment you switch on your PV system. This is the most thrilling aspect of solar energy for many individuals as they witness their power bills disappear.

Profitable Investment

Investing in grid-tied solar systems (PV systems built when you have access to power lines) can be profitable in the long run.

Assuming the national average cost of electricity, it takes about 6.08 years to recoup the investment into a $10,000 system. After that, you begin to generate profit from your system. Over the 25-year lifespan of the solar panel warranty, you can expect to earn $31,031 on energy bills after clearing the initial payback period.

Strong Government Incentives

Investing in solar energy is even more attractive when considering government incentives. In the United States, state and federal programs encourage for people to invest in renewable energy. Utilizing these programs can result in significant cash back.

The primary incentive is a 26% federal tax credit for adopting solar energy. This program allows you to receive 26% of the total cost of your system as a tax credit at the end of the year.

Each credit dollar results in a dollar-for-dollar reduction of your tax liability. Suppose you purchase a $10,000 system and receive a $2,600 credit. In that case, you will owe $2,600 less in taxes at the end of the year.

In addition to the federal tax credit, several local incentives may be available depending on your location. Don’t overlook these opportunities to maximize your benefits.

Sustainable

An energy source is considered sustainable when it can be utilized without depleting its power source. Non-renewable energy sources such as oil and gas are not sustainable since they are consumed as they are utilized.

On the other hand, solar energy is sustainable due to the constant replenishment of its power source (sunlight). With solar energy, there is no need to worry about exhausting the Earth’s natural resources for the benefit of future generations.

Low Maintenance

When it comes to solar systems, there’s not much to worry about in terms of maintenance. They have very few moving parts, which means breakdowns are rare and upkeep is minimal.

Typically, solar panels come with a 25-year warranty, but many last even longer than that. Most of the time, you won’t need to repair or replace them.

One thing you might have to replace is your inverter, which usually comes with a 10-15 year warranty. But aside from that, grid-tied systems require very little scheduled maintenance.

Off-grid systems are a bit more complicated because they need batteries, which often require regular maintenance. Flooded lead-acid batteries, the cheapest option, need to be checked and refilled with water regularly to keep them functioning properly.

However, if you build a grid-tied system, you won’t need batteries at all, which means you’ll rarely need to worry about maintenance or replacement.

Improves Property Value

Research on the real estate market has demonstrated that properties installed with solar power systems are more valuable than those without them.

It is evident that solar power systems significantly enhance the value of a property. Prospective buyers consider solar energy to be a significant factor in their decision-making process, and they are willing to pay extra to purchase a home that is powered by a PV solar system.

Solar Panel Installations, Solar Panels for Sale

Disadvantages of Solar Energy

  • Expensive to get started
  • Takes up space
  • Energy storage is expensive
  • Not right for every property
  • Makes less sense if you rent

Expensive Upfront

The initial cost of solar systems can be quite high, which may deter some individuals from pursuing this energy source. For instance, to power an average American home that consumes 897 kWh of electricity per month, one might need to spend between $6,000 and $10,000, depending on the solar products selected.

While this investment covers energy production for at least 25 years, not everyone has the financial resources to pay for it upfront. Although the payback period is favorable, the upfront cost remains a significant obstacle for some people. Fortunately, financing options are available, but some individuals may prefer not to be burdened with loan repayments.

Takes up Space

Standard solar panels typically measure 39 inches in width and either 66 or 72 inches in height, depending on whether they are 60-cell or 72-cell panels. To generate enough electricity to offset the national average of 897 kWh per month, you’ll need at least 24 panels. This means that, in an 8×3 configuration, your system will occupy an area measuring 26 feet in width and 44 feet in height. That’s quite a lot of room on your roof or in your yard!

Many people choose to mount their solar panels on their roofs because this makes the most efficient use of otherwise-unused space. If your roof has unusual angles or obstructions, you can always divide your solar panels into sub-arrays to work around these challenges.

Energy Storage is Expensive

Solar power systems can be expensive, and batteries are often the costliest component. While not all photovoltaic (PV) systems require batteries, they become necessary when you go off the grid or need backup power for your grid-tied property.

It’s important to note that grid-tied systems do not automatically provide backup power during outages. For that, you need a grid-tie system with energy storage – essentially, a battery designed to work with grid-based systems.

Adding batteries to a PV system can significantly increase the cost. Battery banks typically cost at least a few thousand dollars, and if you opt for high-end lithium batteries for a full-scale off-grid system, you could easily be looking at a five-figure investment in batteries alone.

It’s also worth considering that batteries don’t last as long as the other components of your system. Lead-acid battery warranties range from 1 to 7 years, meaning you’ll need to replace them 4 or 5 times before the solar panel warranty expires.

Lithium batteries are more durable, lasting up to 10-15 years and justifying their higher price tag. However, this still means that you’ll need to replace them at some point.

Not Right for Every Property

It’s important to note that not all properties are suitable for solar photovoltaic systems. For instance, some properties may not have enough space to install solar-powered systems, while others may be shaded, resulting in insufficient sunlight to generate sufficient energy.

Although there are technologies available to address these issues, such as shade optimizers and custom racking, they only accomplish so much. Without adequate space to place solar panels, it can be a daunting task to make solar energy work for your house.

Makes Less Sense if You Rent

Investing in solar energy can be a wise financial decision, but it’s important to consider whether you’ll be residing in the same property for the entire 25-year warranty period. It typically takes a few years to recoup the upfront costs of installing a solar system and begin reaping the benefits of lower energy bills. If you don’t own your home or plan to move soon, solar energy may not be the most practical option for you.

However, the good news is that solar systems can boost property values, allowing you to recover your investment when you eventually sell your home. Still, most individuals opt for solar energy because they want to generate their own electricity and become more self-sufficient in the long term.

It’s crucial to consider your long-term plans before making an investment in the solar system. If you plan to stay in your current property, solar energy could be a smart choice for you.

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Questions?

If you’re still hesitant about whether the benefits of solar are worth it, don’t worry. We offer consultations with our experienced design technicians who can provide answers to your queries, solve any design challenges, and assist you in determining if solar is the right choice for your needs.

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