Solar Power Pros and Cons

In recent years, solar technology has become more popular. Both large companies and individuals have chosen to use solar power in commercial buildings and homes. The renewable and eco-friendly nature of solar power is not the only thing to consider when deciding to switch to a solar system. The best companies may simplify the installation process, but it is still a long and complex process with many variables and factors.

Our guide to the pros and cons of solar energy can help you determine if this is a good option for your business or home.

What is Solar Energy?

Solar energy is the electrical or thermal energy harvested from sunlight. Solar panels are made of photovoltaic cells (PV), which contain semiconductor materials like silicon. These cells absorb photons from sunlight, which release electrons from the atoms in the semiconductor material. This flow of electrons creates an electric current.

Solar panels can be installed anywhere that receives a lot of sunlight, such as rooftops or open fields. The more sunlight the panels are exposed to, the more electricity they can produce.

 

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Advantages of Solar Energy

Renewable Energy Source

The supply of fossil fuels is decreasing. When fossil fuels are burned for energy, harmful byproducts are released into the atmosphere. Solar power can help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and, therefore, lessen the environmental impact.

Reduces Electric Bill

Solar energy is a great alternative to grid-supplied electricity for most people. Switching to solar energy can save consumers a lot of money on their monthly bills.

Energy Independence

The ability to operate completely off-grid is a feature of a home that relies solely on solar energy. This is especially true when paired with a system for storing power to use at night. Solar systems with battery backups can also be used as emergency backups during a power outage.

Solar Panels Increase Home Values

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, every dollar you save on your electric bills by installing solar panels increases the value of your home by 20 dollars. Solar panels also increase the value of a home by four percent. Solar panels will save you money over time and increase the value of your house.

Long-Term Savings

Solar systems are expensive to install, but the savings on your electric bill can offset the cost. The investment can be recovered within 6-10 years, and you will start to see benefits before the system needs replacement or extensive maintenance.

Low-Maintenance Costs

Solar systems require little maintenance once installed as long as they are not affected by environmental factors. If the panels are kept free of dirt and debris, they will continue to work for many years. Professional maintenance for your solar panels can cost between $140 and $180. An annual inspection or cleaning costs about $150. Solar panel warranties usually cover them and provide performance guarantees.

Benefits the Community

Net metering is a process that allows consumers to return excess electricity generated by their solar panels to the utility, reducing their utility bills. It also reduces the community’s dependence on fossil fuels.

Diverse Uses

Solar energy can be used to power homes, appliances, satellites, boats, remote areas that are off the grid, or places where it is not practical to use a power grid.

Rising Power Prices

Electricity prices have been rising for the last ten years and are unlikely to drop soon. Solar power helps consumers keep their bills down. With net metering, many can sell excess energy to the utility and take advantage of rising electricity costs.

Technology is Improving, and Prices Are Decreasing

The technology has advanced tremendously since solar power’s early days, and new advances are made daily. Solar’s popularity has also driven down its price, making it more affordable for more consumers. Several federal tax credits and state incentives are available to help consumers reduce the amount they pay for a new system.

Disadvantages of Solar Energy

High Cost of Solar Panels

A complete solar installation requires a significant investment, even though the price of solar panels has decreased over the last ten years. A complete solar installation for a house costs an average of $18,000 before any incentives or the federal tax credit.

Sunlight Dependent

Solar energy systems cannot generate power without sunlight. This can be a problem in areas with less than ideal sunlight or bad weather. Solar batteries that store excess energy can help mitigate this problem. Even under constant clouds, the best panels are still cost-effective and energy-efficient enough to justify the installation.

Installation Can Be Difficult

Solar panel installation is not difficult if you are comfortable with electricity and don’t mind being on the roof. However, the average DIYer may find it challenging to tie the wiring of the solar panels into the house. This job is best left to professionals.

Space Constraints

The wiring and solar panels take up space. Finding enough space to expose the solar panels can be difficult, depending on how many are needed. This is especially true in smaller residential areas.

Expensive Solar Energy Storage

Solar batteries are vital to solar panel systems because they store excess energy. They can be expensive depending on their size and type. A single lead-acid battery can cost anywhere between $200 and $850, while a lithium-ion residential solar system costs $7,000 to $14,000.

Environmental Impact of Manufacturing

Solar technology is not without its downsides. The mining of materials and the manufacturing of solar panels produce a significant amount of greenhouse gases. According to a report by the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, solar panels can pay for themselves within one to four years of use in terms of greenhouse gas savings.

Relocation Difficulty

The semi-permanent nature of solar panels makes it difficult to move them from one house to another. They are often considered an investment for the building or property they are installed on.

Scarcity of Materials

The sun’s light may be limitless, but the materials needed to make solar technology are not. Solar products are made from raw materials that may not be available in sufficient quantities to meet future demands. The mining methods used to obtain these materials could also have an environmental impact.

Disposal or Recycling Options

Solar technology contains some of the same environmentally harmful substances found in many consumer and industrial electronics, so proper disposal is critical. Solar panels are currently only recyclable in limited quantities.

How Sustainable is Solar Energy?

Harnessing solar energy offers a more sustainable alternative to fossil fuels, which are not only finite but also release harmful greenhouse gases upon combustion. Although the production of solar technology depends on limited raw materials and emits greenhouse gases, the environmental footprint of solar panels can be mitigated through recycling.

Solar power can offset the carbon footprint and emissions of production in four years. Solar panels are recyclable since they are made of glass, metal, and silicon. However, we lack the infrastructure necessary to facilitate and collect recycling on a large scale.

Who Should Use Solar Energy?

Solar energy has become accessible to both large industries and individual consumers. It is a great investment for consumers who have the money to make it, as they can benefit from long-term savings. Solar loans may also be a solution for those who lack the capital.

Is Solar Energy Worth the Cost?

In most cases, solar power is worth its cost. It depends on several factors, such as your location, the availability of tax incentives, and net metering. Solar energy has many advantages, and the pros outweigh the cons. The feasibility of a solar project will depend on the consumer’s finances, living conditions, and space restrictions.

Future Outlook for Solar Energy

The sun is one of the most abundant and reliable energy sources on Earth. Solar energy has experienced rapid growth and is expected to continue dominating the energy landscape shortly.

Solar power has steadily increased in popularity over the last few years and is expected to do so for many more. The cost-effectiveness of solar panels is one key factor that has fueled this exponential growth. Solar energy systems are now more appealing to residential and commercial users due to advancements in solar technology. Solar energy will continue to be adopted in the United States because of its cost-effectiveness.

Learn more about your solar options with ESD Solar. Call us now for more information!

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