Solar power has become an increasingly popular investment for most homeowners. As knowledge about it spreads and more people learn about its numerous benefits, the idea of installing solar energy systems for your home may seem to be a no-brainer. That said, it’s a big decision that you need to carefully consider. While the benefits of solar panels are clear, like anything else, it also comes with a few drawbacks you need to weigh up before making the switch.
In this article, take a closer look at the basics of a solar energy system and the pros and cons of running your home using the power of the sun.
Solar Energy System Explained
Solar power is usable energy generated from the sun. It can be used in thermal applications to heat fluids and indoor spaces. However, it’s more commonly used to generate electricity for your home. Solar energy can be captured in several ways–the most common is with a photovoltaic solar panel system. A solar panel consists of a metal frame, a glass casing unit, a layer of silicon cells, and wiring to transfer electric current from the silicon. Silicon is a nonmetal element with conductive properties, which allows it to absorb sunlight and convert the same into usable electricity. When sunlight hits the silicon cell, the light causes electrons in the silicon to move, initiating a flow of an electric current which is also known as the ‘photovoltaic effect.’
Then, the wirings capture and feed this direct current (DC) electricity into a solar inverter which ultimately converts it to alternating current (AC) electricity that can be used by your home’s appliances. Due to the complexity of solar panel installation, it’s recommended that you look at services like Impact Energy home solar installation services. Hiring the pros ensures that your solar energy system is installed according to local building regulations. They also have the necessary experience and equipment to handle all your installation needs.
The Advantages Of Choosing Solar Power For Your Home
Solar power comes with numerous benefits that appeal to most homeowners. Here are some of the most important advantages of solar energy systems.
- It Helps Reduce Or Eliminate Energy Bills
Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of a solar energy system is that it can provide you with significant savings on your electric bills. When you choose to install your solar panels, you generate your own electricity and become less reliant on electric utility, ultimately reducing your monthly electric bill. Adding solar panels can save on energy bills by up to USD$1,300 annually, depending on your home size, electricity usage, and your location. So, through the lifetime of your solar panels, you can save up to USD32,000.
In addition, electricity has just kept getting more expensive over the past years. It’s expected that the cost of electricity will continue to rise into the future. That said, solar can help protect you against rising electricity prices. As you’ll be using energy from the sun, you don’t have to rely on expensive power from the grid.
- It Has The Potential For Profit
Thanks to the number of awesome solar incentives available, installing a solar power system for your home can actually bring you profit in addition to energy savings that pay off the cost of the system. In the US, solar renewable energy credits and net metering are two initiatives that allow you to earn bill credits and extra cash as your solar energy system produces electricity. With solar credits, you’re getting compensated for the electricity that your solar panels produce. With net metering, the excess energy that your solar energy system produces can be sold back to the electric grid, earning you profit. If you live in areas where either of these incentives is applied, you can expect long-term and immediate returns from your investment.
- It Is Eco-Friendly
Solar is a clean and sustainable energy source. Switching to solar panels can help minimize the amounts of pollutants, carbon, and other greenhouse gas emissions generated. This means you’re contributing to fresher water and cleaner air, lowering your impact on the environment and bringing more environmental stability for future generations. Better yet, unlike the common sources of energy, solar energy is renewable, which means you’ll never run out of it.
- It Is Low Maintenance
In general, solar panels don’t require a lot of maintenance. Depending on your location and the surrounding area, you only need to keep your panels clean. It’s recommended to do this a couple of times annually. Also, as there are no moving parts, you don’t have to worry about wear and tear. The solar inverter will need to be changed every 5-10 years, while cables and wiring only need minimal inspection and maintenance to ensure maximum efficiency. Furthermore, most reliable solar manufacturers also offer long warranties of up to 25 years, protecting you against unwanted costs of a faulty product or accidental damage.
- It Boosts Your Home’s Value
The undeniable benefits of solar panels mentioned above also contribute to an increase in property values. Reports reveal that the more solar panels you install on your roof, the higher the value of your house will be. It has the potential to increase your home’s value by over 4% or an extra USD$9,200 than homes without solar panels.
Take note that each property is different, and the exact increase in your property value will depend on several factors, including:
- Size of the solar power system
- Solar output
- Cost of installation
- It Can Be Used In Any Environment
Unlike other types of renewable energy, such as wind or hydro energy that need a wide, open space or large water source, solar energy can be used in every environment. This makes it the most versatile form of renewable energy. Although its efficiency and output will be lower during cloudy days or in areas with climates that don’t get regular sun exposure, as long as there’s sunlight, solar panels are always working. So, regardless of where you live, a solar power system is a great investment.
The Disadvantages Of Choosing Solar Power For Your Home
Solar energy may have numerous benefits, but it isn’t perfect. Below are some of the disadvantages of installing solar panels.
- It Has High Initial Cost
Perhaps one of the biggest drawbacks of solar panels is that they can be quite expensive. The price of solar energy systems may be dropping, but it’s still a significant expense for most homeowners. After all, not everyone has the cash to make an investment of this size with a high upfront payment. That said, various solar financing options can help you get over this solar drawback, such as power purchase agreements, leases, and government-backed loan programs. It’s also worthwhile to look for government subsidies and incentives that can help cut down the cost of solar purchases.
- It Doesn’t Work For Every Roof
Traditionally, solar energy systems are installed on your roof via a mounting system or racks. These racks are bolted onto your roof, so it’s important to consider the type and condition of your roof. Some roofing materials used in historical or older homes, such as cedar or slate tiles, can be challenging for solar installers to work with. In addition, if your roof has any visible damage, wear and tear, or simply nearing the end of its lifespan, then a solar energy system can be dangerous. Moreover, most apartment buildings and homes have skylights or rooftop elements such as roof decks that make solar installation impossible or challenging. That said, if your home doesn’t qualify for a rooftop installation, you still have other options, including a ground-mounted solar panel, provided that you have a wide, open property.
- Its Manufacturing Process May Cause Pollution
Switching to solar energy systems can generally help reduce pollution. However, it can still initially contribute to pollution. For one, there are some hazardous products and toxic materials used during the manufacturing process of solar panels, which can indirectly impact the environment. Also, the transportation and installation of solar systems have been associated with greenhouse gas emissions. Nevertheless, solar panels still produce far less pollution and disruption in the environment than other alternative energy sources.
- It Uses A Lot Of Space
The more electricity your home needs, the more solar panels you need to install to collect as much solar energy as possible. This means that you’ll need a lot of space to accommodate your solar panels. Unfortunately, some roofs may not be big enough to fit the number of solar panels that you’d like to have. While you can opt for ground-mounted solar panels, it’ll take up space as well.
- It Is Weather-Dependent
Obviously, solar panels are dependent on sunlight to provide electricity. While solar energy can still be collected during rainy or cloudy days, you’ll notice a significant drop in efficiency. Plus, solar energy can’t be collected at night. But you can always install a solar battery to help you collect and use solar energy during nighttime.
There’s no denying that solar is a revolutionary energy solution for homeowners. However, like any investment decision, going solar means you need to consider and weigh the advantages and disadvantages that come with it. With thorough consideration and planning, you’re better equipped to make a sound decision that’ll suit your home energy goals.