Solar energy is fast becoming an attractive investment. There are many pros and cons to be aware of before you choose the one that’s right for you. This may make it hard to decide whether or not solar panels are a good option for you.
To help, we have compiled an in-depth list weighing in on the pros and cons of solar.
Table of Contents
Pros of going solar
1. Lowers your power bill
One of the biggest benefits of solar panels is that they can give you significant savings on your electric bills. Many states require utilities to offer net metering, which allows homeowners to offset their electricity costs with the power produced by their solar panels. They can then sell this surplus power back to the utility. This is typically added to their electric bill as a credit, which they can use to offset future electric costs. In many states, adding solar panels to a home can result in electricity bill savings of much more than $1,000 a year.
2. Protect yourself against those rising electric costs.
Because you are producing your own power, you will not need to purchase this expensive energy from the utility. So rising electricity costs are a thing of the past! In reality, rising prices can actually be a good thing if you are installing solar.
For instance, say that your utility charges you 12 cents for every kWh of electricity. That means under net metering; your utility will pay you 12 cents for every extra kWh of electricity that your solar panels generate and send back to the grid. If your utility raised its price for electricity to 13 cents per kWh, this means that the power you sent to the grid would be worth 13 cents as well. So, net metering is saving you more money every time your utility increases your rate!
3. Price of solar has fallen
Solar is cheaper than it is ever been; in fact, costs have fallen by over 70% over the last decade. These lower prices have made solar energy more affordable for more homeowners than ever. Installing solar can also be cheaper if you qualify for solar incentives.
For instance, you can qualify for 30 percent federal tax credits when you install your solar before 2032. This tax credit is equivalent to 30% of your total solar system costs and is applied against your income taxes. In addition to the federal tax credit, many other solar incentives are offered at the local level. Solar panels can not only wipe out your electric bills but can be a source of additional revenue.
4. ROI of going solar
As we mentioned earlier, net metering allows you to make money by selling the extra electricity generated from your solar panels back to the utility (depending on the state you live in). Some states also have other incentive programs that are performance-based, such as Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs), which can potentially pay you hundreds of dollars per year, depending on where you live.
Property value is also increased by having a solar array installed and tends to sell quicker than non-solar homes. This way is the fastest way to see an ROI on your decision to go solar.
The money you earn through net metering, combined with the savings on your electric bill and the other incentives, goes toward paying off the cost of your system. In areas where all these incentives are available, your solar panel's payback time could be as short as four years.
Once you have paid for the system, your solar panels will continue generating free electricity for your home throughout the life of the system!
5. Solar is better for the environment
Another great advantage of solar is that it is a renewable source of power. That means as you use a resource, you are not draining the resource. So, by using sunlight hitting the Earth and turning that into electricity, we are not depleting the Sun's energy.
Plus, electricity created by solar panels does not create any emissions. Nothing is released into the atmosphere when we generate electricity using solar panels. The only thing being created is clean energy!
6. Energy Independence
Having solar panels allows homeowners to generate their own power, thus giving them energy independence. Essentially, that means that solar homes are less reliant on a traditional power grid. This allows you to put the power in your hands and have control over where your home gets its energy.
On a larger scale, a U.S. transition to solar power and other renewables will enable the nation to become energy independent. The U.S. would not need to depend as much on other countries for its oil and gas as it does now. Using energy that is created right here in the United States instead of having to rely on foreign sources is good for the nation's security as well as good for the nation's economy.
Cons of going solar
1. High initial costs
The high up-front costs are one of the biggest downsides to solar panel systems. As of January 2022, the average solar installation in the United States is around $3.00/watt. So, a 6-kilowatt solar system will run you around $18,000, on average, before federal tax credits are applied.
The actual solar cost varies from state to state, as well as depending on what incentives you are eligible for. Fortunately, there are solar financing options that are available. In many cases, you may be eligible for a solar loan with no down payment, allowing you to save on electricity bills while reaping the benefits of having a solar power system.
2. No sun means no energy production
The sun does not shine during the night. So, solar panels don't produce energy at night. The sun's intensity changes depending on the location, the season, and time of day. Clouds, snow, and leaf cover can all significantly affect how much power your solar panels generate.
All these factors have been used to make the case that you cannot count on solar for your primary load or mission-critical applications. However, that is changing as cheap battery solutions emerge.
Batteries enable homeowners to store their solar power, and when their solar panels are not producing energy, they can take energy from a battery.
The most popular home solar battery is Teslas Powerwall, which is a lithium-ion battery with a storage capacity of 13.5 kilowatt-hours. Other manufacturers, like Sonnen, LG, and BYD, also offer excellent home energy storage solar batteries. The continued advances in battery storage are a sign that inconsistency might not be an obstacle to solar for much longer.
3. Solar is technically not 100% clean
While the power generated by solar panels is emissions-free, it is important to note that some pollution is associated with solar panel production. Some solar panels contain harmful pollutants, such as sulfur hexafluoride, which is more powerful than carbon dioxide. However, the climate impacts of carbon dioxide are far greater than those of sulfur hexafluoride.
The environmental impacts from solar panels are small in comparison with the damage associated with the extraction and burning of fossil fuels.
4. Panels need space
Solar panels need space in order to provide the power needed. For residential installations, there is almost always plenty of room on the roof. However, space can become a little problematic when looking at larger utility-scale solar installations. This is because solar panels are not very dense in terms of their capacity.
Power density is the amount of energy that you can get out of your power source within a given area, measured in Watts per Square Meter (W/m2). The power density of solar panels is lower than that of fossil fuels. This means you have to have a larger solar panel area in order to generate as much energy as you could with a coal-fired plant. However, this measure does not take into account the amount of land mined for fossil fuels.
So while a big solar power plant would be needed, whereas a smaller coal plant is needed, the mining of coal destroyed acres of land, while the solar plant did not.
5. What if you move?
One downside to installing solar panels on your house is that they may be costly to move if you choose to relocate. The net-metering arrangement with your utility is fixed to the property. Also, finding someone to take down and install the solar panels again could prove expensive.
But, solar panels really do add value to your house, so even if you move, you will probably see your solar panels' value reflect itself in the higher sales price. If you are really planning to move anytime soon, your best option is to buy solar panels outright. If you are in the middle of renting or buying your solar power through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), you will have to get a new owner to take over the deal, and that could be an issue.
Should You Install Solar Panels?
The pros of solar power far outweigh its cons. The installation costs for solar are now cheaper than ever, the solar tax credit has been extended through 2035, and electricity prices are only going to keep rising. Solar panels come with their own set of pros and cons homeowners need to weigh before making the decision. That is why we are here to help.
NoMorelightBills is here to help.
Here, at NoMoreLightBills, we explain all solar energy pros and cons to be fully transparent, which is something solar companies don't usually do. A solar panel system can be complicated and very customizable, making the decision process daunting to many. We bridge this gap by finding the best solution for every individual's needs.
Some people's goals are to reduce their electricity bills; others want to be more environmentally friendly. Some strive for the best tech, and others want more independence and security from government and utility regulations and natural disasters.
Every individual has a different need, and we look for the best solutions based on your specific criteria. Sometimes solar panels are not the solution, and we are clear to disclose that with full transparency. The Energy Experts at NoMoreLightBills have amassed knowledge and resources to direct each person on the best path possible. Talk to an Energy Expert today 100% free.
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