Free energy directly from the sun to your home outlets? That sounds like something everyone could get behind. Solar energy offers clean, abundant power for your home at a fraction of the cost of relying on the city power grid. But before you cut your line and let the sunshine in, take a moment to make sure that solar energy is right for your property.
We’ve put together a short list of solar panel pros and cons, so you’ll have the info you need to make the right decision.
- Lowers electric bill
Solar panels will cover a part of your energy needs, which will reduce your need for you to use electricity, thereby lowering your electric bill. Just how much you can save will depend on the size of your solar-panel system and your overall heat or electricity use. Some organizations even offer payments for the surplus energy you export back to the grid.
- Reduces carbon footprint
Solar is a clean energy source, which means it doesn’t doesn’t cause pollution. This helps you to reduce your carbon footprint. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average house emits about 20 metric tons of carbon pollution per year. By using a solar power system, you can reduce your carbon emissions by three to four tons each year.
As you use your solar panels to meet your energy needs, you reduce the demand for electricity from your utility provider. This way, your utility plant will emit less carbon itself as it meets customer demand.
- Insurance against rising power prices
Since solar power will always be available, it provides you a way of insuring yourself against the rise of electrical and power prices. You can continue to keep your energy costs low no matter how high prices rise. According to the Energy Information Administration, utility residential electricity prices have slowly risen at a steady rate through the last decade. In fact, rates have increased by about 15 percent in the last 10 years and there’s little chance that they will lower anytime soon.
A solar power system can help you lock in the price of energy for at least the ~25-year life of your installed solar panels.
- Improves the value of a home
Studies have shown that a home with a solar panel system can be sold at a price above similar homes in the same area. Early studies show that home values increased by four percent or more when equipped with solar panels. One report showed that a solar power system could add $24,000 to a home’s resale value.
Because of this, you could end up recouping the initial cost of installing your system if you ever sell your home. You will also receive a premium that can increase the returns on your solar power system investment.
- Energy storage is expensive
Today, using your installed solar panels can be cheaper than using electricity from your utility company. However, battery storage systems for solar energy (such as the Tesla Powerwall home solar battery) can be expensive — possibly to the point of offsetting the return on your investment.
- Intermittent energy source
Solar energy is dependent on a few things, such as the weather and the time of day. For instance, the sun doesn’t shine at night so your panels won’t be able to generate power at night (you’ll have ti rely either on city power or stored solar energy). Additionally, the sun’s intensity can differ during certain times of the year and certain times of the day. On top of this, cloud cover can affect the amount of energy your solar panels produce, so if you live in a constantly rainy place like Seattle, the cost of installation may not be worth it.
- Doesn’t work for every roof type
Most roofing materials work just great with solar panels including:
* Metal standing seam
* TPO and PVC
* EPDM rubber
* Standard clay and Spanish tile
However, there are some roof types that won’t work for solar panels, such as wood or slate roofs. Solar panels may not be the best choice for these kinds of roofs as they are brittle and can break. If you do install panels on these roofs, you will need to get specialized mounting equipment and components, because workers can’t walk on these kinds of roofs without possibly causing damage. Using this special equipment can require your installation to be far more expensive.
Before installing your panels you will also need to check a few things such as which way your roof faces, how much shade covers the roof, how old your roof is, the size and shape and if it’s sloped or flat, and lastly, who actually owns your roof (if you don’t own the property, then installing solar panels isn’t a decision you’ll be allowed to make on your own).
- Not ideal for renters
Among the cons for solar panels is the fact that once you install them, they’re very expensive to move if you ever sell your home or are renting and move away. Plus, if you are renting or leasing, you have to make sure the new owner will agree to take over your agreement and solar panel system.
Now that you know some of the pros and cons of solar panels, you can begin to decide if this is a smart route for you and your household.