Solar Energy: Do the Pros Outweigh the Cons?
Not long ago, installing a solar energy system at a home was considered a luxury by many people. It was a very costly endeavor and the panels weren’t nearly as efficient as they are today. Now some 20 years later solar energy has come so far new homes are being built with panels already installed or set up for easy installation by the owner.
Are you ready to fully embrace solar energy? More people than ever are asking themselves if the pros outweigh the cons. They want to know if the advantages of solar energy are enough to make it a good investment. If you’re one of those people, keep reading for a comprehensive overview on the advantages and disadvantages of going solar.
Advantages of Solar Energy
Many people believe solar panel systems, also known as photovoltaic (PV) systems, are the way of the future in terms of our energy supply. There are a number of advantages to using solar over other energy sources, and any one of them could be the sole reason why a person decides to install a PV system.
Lower Utility Bills
Sunshine is free, which means you should notice a difference on your utility bills after a solar panel system is installed. Lowering utility costs is one of the top reasons people make the investment in solar energy. Over time the system should pay for itself by reducing monthly energy costs. It may even be cost effective right from the start if the energy savings are greater than payments for the solar panels.
Smaller Carbon Footprint
Finances aside, many people want to make the switch to solar primarily to help the environment. Reducing your carbon footprint is possibly the biggest advantage of solar energy because we all benefit from it.
More Energy Independence
Do you hate being beholden to the electric grid? Are you worried that a winter storm or summer hot spell could cause brownouts or blackouts? When you’re generating your own power with the sun there’s less concern about the grid and what could happen if demand outpaces supply or a branch takes out a power line.
The cost of PV systems is offset by federal tax credits for solar photovoltaics. The federal residential solar energy credit gives homeowners that install PV systems a tax credit that’s 26% of the cost for installations in 2022. Installations that are put into place in 2023 will be eligible for a 22% tax credit.
Some states also offer separate tax credits, so don’t forget to see if you can claim state solar incentives.
Rebate From the Local Utility
Some local utilities offer homeowners a one-time rebate if they install a solar panel system. Keep in mind that the rebate will be deducted from the cost before calculating tax credits.
Disadvantages of Solar Energy
There are a lot of advantages to using solar energy, but there are also a few disadvantages that have to be considered. They could even determine if a PV system is a viable option.
Large Upfront Expense
According to Forbes, the average cost for a PV system in 2022 is $16,000, but it can range anywhere from $3,500 to $35,000 depending on the setup and size. That’s a significant upfront expense, but there are ways to work around this disadvantage if you don’t have $16,000 cash for a solar system. Alternative payment methods include:
Get a loan – There are a few ways to get a loan to purchase a solar energy system. The solar power company may offer customers loans with a downpayment. You could also look into taking out a personal loan or a home equity loan.
Lease the system – If there’s no way to purchase the solar panel system you may be able to lease it instead. You won’t get the full advantages of owning the system, but you still might be able to lower your overall energy costs and carbon footprint.
Sign a power purchase agreement – A power purchase agreement is when a company installs the solar power system on a homeowner’s property that they own and maintain. In return, the homeowner gets a very good rate on renewable energy. You’ll still be paying a monthly utility bill, but the energy will be clean and you can lock in a rate for many years.
Some Days Won’t Produce as Much Power
If there’s less sunlight there’s less solar power, there’s no way around it. You can’t control the weather so solar power isn’t as consistent as other energy sources.
You May Still Rely on Other Power Sources
Since solar power is inconsistent another power source is needed on days where energy production doesn’t meet demand. A battery backup system is highly recommended for such occasions. On days when excess energy is produced that energy can be stored in the backup system instead of flowing out to the grid.
Not Every Home is Suitable for Solar
A homeowner could be totally on board with going solar only to find out it isn’t a viable option for providing power. The first step that has to happen is a site assessment. A qualified engineer will assess the energy needs of the home and the potential for solar capture to determine if a PV system can be installed.
You’ll Probably Need Permits and/or HOA Approval
In many cities, a permit is needed to install solar panels. This is an added expense and can be a time-consuming process. Often the company handling the installation can help with obtaining the permits.
If you live in an HOA that’s another consideration. Because solar panels can affect the aesthetics of a home, an installation usually needs approval from the HOA. Fortunately, most HOAs understand the important advantages of solar power and typically allow them.
Despite the downsides, solar energy has a few key advantages that make a PV system a good investment. But there’s no way of getting around the fact that installing a solar panel system isn’t always possible. If you don’t have the ability for a full-blown PV system, there are other ways to incorporate solar energy in your home. You could install a solar water heater to reduce your carbon footprint and monthly energy expenses. There are also solar-powered lights and solar device chargers. For people who want the most eco-friendly energy possible every little thing counts.
Another thing you can do is choose an energy provider that invests in bettering the communities they serve. At Provider Power you can find energy plans that are better for the community, and all you have to do is pick the option that works best for your needs. No solar panel installation is required. Find Provider Power energy plans in your area in seconds!