Thinking about installing solar panels on your home? With so much information out there, it can be overwhelming to figure out if making the switch to solar energy is the right choice for you. In this post, we’ll examine the advantages and disadvantages of solar energy to help you make an informed decision about how you power your home.
Solar Energy Pros and Cons
As a homeowner considering solar energy, weighing the pros and cons is crucial. Installing solar panels will reduce your carbon footprint and save you money on your monthly electricity bills. However, you should also consider the initial cost of installation, potential energy production limitations, and weather patterns in your area.
Let’s take a closer look at these common pros and cons of solar energy.
Pros of solar energy
- Solar power reduces your electric bill
- Protection against rising energy costs
- Solar is more affordable than ever before
- It’s a long-term return on your investment
- Solar power is a clean and renewable energy source
- Energy Independence
Cons of Solar Energy
- If you are interested in purchasing your system, the upfront cost is significant
- Solar energy is an intermittent energy source – without solar storage, you only benefit from energy produced when the sun is shining
- Manufacturing solar panels has some impact on the environment
- Installation requires space
Here’s a closer look at each of these pros and cons of powering your home with solar energy.
Advantages of Solar Energy
1. Solar power reduces your electric bill
One of the biggest advantages of installing solar panels is the significant savings on your electric bill. Net metering, for example, allows California homeowners to offset their electric costs with the energy their solar panels produce and even sell excess energy back to the utility company. These credits can be used to reduce future electricity costs, which makes solar panels a great investment for your wallet and the planet.
In many states, homeowners can save well over $1,000 annually on their electric bills. To put this in perspective, the average Bay Area household pays close to $250 per month on utility costs. That adds up to nearly $250,000 over the 25 year lifetime of their system when you factor in inflation. Switching to solar energy locks in your electricity rate and saves you money.
2. Protection against rising energy costs
Homeowners know electricity continues to get more and more expensive. Electricity prices have steadily increased over the past decade and this trend is expected to continue, which means your electric bill will go up too. Solar panels provide protection against these rising power prices. By producing your own energy, you won’t have to purchase costly electricity from your utility company.
NOTE: While net metering currently allows you to sell your excess energy to your utility company, NEM 3.0 will take effect on April 15, 2023 and change the policy. Homeowners who install their solar power systems after that date will receive credits worth about 75% less for any excess energy they send back to the grid.
If you’re thinking about switching to solar energy, it’s important to act quickly to lock in the current rates. With the help of a solar system installer like Solar Technologies, you can streamline the application process and meet the deadline to lock in rates for the next 20 years. Schedule a solar consultation with us today to get your solar questions answered and ensure your interconnection application is submitted by April 14, 2023 at 5 p.m. PST.
3. Solar is more affordable than ever before
Solar power is quickly becoming one of the most affordable and accessible forms of energy for homeowners. As electricity prices continue to rise, the cost of solar has dropped by over 70% in the past decade, making it cheaper than ever before.
But that’s not all: there are a variety of solar incentives available that can help make solar even more affordable. For example, if you install a solar system before the end of 2032, you could qualify for a 30% Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC). This credit is equal to 30% of the total cost of your solar system and can be applied to your income taxes. On top of the federal tax credit, there are a range of other solar incentives available at the local level.
4. It’s a long-term return on your investment
Investing in solar panels for your home is a smart financial decision that can bring long-term benefits. Although the upfront cost may seem high, you will save money in the long run on your electricity bills and protect yourself from rising utility rates. Depending on where you live, you can save even more money with performance-based incentives, like Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs).
The money you save on your electric bill and other rebates goes towards paying back the cost of your system. The payback time can be as short as four years in areas that have all these incentives available, like California. Once your system is paid off, your solar panels will continue to generate free power for the lifetime of the system.
5. Solar power is a clean and renewable energy source
Solar energy is a game-changing renewable energy source that doesn’t deplete as we use it. By harnessing the power of the sun and converting it into electricity, we can generate clean, reliable energy for our homes and businesses.
Unlike other forms of energy, solar power doesn’t produce greenhouse gas emissions that harm the environment. It’s a clean energy source that doesn’t harm the air, water, or soil. When you install solar panels on your home, you reduce your carbon footprint and do your part in combating climate change.
6. Energy independence
With solar panels, homeowners can create their own energy, which gives them independence from the traditional electric grid. This means homeowners can take power into their own hands and control where their home gets its energy from.
Not only does solar help homeowners generate their own energy, it also creates energy independence on a larger scale. By switching to solar and other renewable energy sources, the United States could reduce its dependence on foreign oil and gas, which is great for national security and our economy.
Disadvantages of Solar Energy
1. The upfront cost is high
For cash purchases, the upfront cost of solar panel systems is one of the biggest drawbacks of solar energy. The average cost of solar in California as of January 2023 is $2.76 per watt, which means a 6 kW solar panel system would cost about $16,560 before applying the federal tax credit.
The actual cost of a solar system will vary depending on your location and the available incentives you qualify for. However, solar financing options are available to help make the upfront cost more manageable. For instance, some homeowners can qualify for zero-down solar loans, which allow them to save money on their electric bill and reap the benefits of owning a solar system without having to pay the entire upfront cost out of pocket.
2. Solar energy is an intermittent energy source
Solar energy has a lot of advantages, but one of its biggest challenges is it’s an intermittent source of power. This means that solar panels generate electricity only when the sun is shining (not at night or cloudy days). Plus, factors like location, weather, and the time of year also affect the intensity of the sun’s rays, which impacts how much energy solar panels produce.
Until recently, this intermittency has been a drawback for solar power, as it couldn’t be relied on for base load or mission-critical applications. However, the emergence of cost-effective battery solutions has started to change this. Homeowners can now store the energy generated by their solar panels in batteries and draw energy from them when their solar panels aren’t producing energy (during power outages, at night, etc).
The Tesla Powerwall is the most popular residential solar battery and can store up to 13.5 kWh of energy. Other manufacturers, like SunPower, offer excellent solar batteries for home energy storage as well. The ongoing advances in battery technology are a clear indication that the solar power’s intermittency may soon be a thing of the past.
3. Manufacturing solar panels has some impact on the environment
Solar power is a renewable source that produces clean energy. While the electricity they generate is emission-free, it’s important to note that the manufacturing of solar panels does have an impact on the environment.
Some panels contain pollutants like sulfur hexafluoride, which is more potent than carbon dioxide. However, the impact of sulfur hexafluoride on our climate is much lower compared to the effects of carbon dioxide.
Overall, the environmental impact of manufacturing solar panels is minimal compared to the negative impact from mining and burning of fossil fuels.
4. Solar panel installation requires space
While residential installations can usually fit on a roof, large grid-scale installations need more space to produce the required amount of energy. This is because solar panels have a lower power density than fossil fuels do, which means more solar panels are required to produce the same amount of energy as a smaller area of fossil fuels. Power density is the amount of power that can be produced from an energy source within a specific area and is measured in watts per square meter (W/m2).
While solar panels have a lower power density, the environmental impact of mining for fossil fuels is not included in power density measurements. Coal mining, for example, destroys vast amounts of land. When you take these impacts into account, the footprint of solar power is still significantly lower than that of fossil fuels.
Should You Install Solar Panels?
The pros of solar energy far exceed the cons. There’s never been a better time to go solar, as the cost of installation is at an all-time low, the solar tax credit has been extended, and electricity prices continue to rise. Overall, the switch to solar energy is a smart investment that will pay off for many years to come.
If you’re ready to power your home with solar, schedule your online appointment today to learn how much you can save and to find the right solar loan for your energy needs.