So much is being said these days about ‘going green’ and renewable energy that its time to talk about the advantages and disadvantages of solar power for your home. Solar is getting a lot of attention and it’s well-earned. There is no greater source of cheap, clean, and abundant energy than the sun. It’s high time we harnessed that energy.
Of course there are some disadvantages to installing solar on your home. Lets cover these first.
Disadvantages of Solar Power for your home:
Upfront Cost: The biggest problem with solar energy is the initial cost of the system. Systems can range anywhere from $1,000 to $100,000 in materials and labor costs, and many homeowners are simply not willing to put up that kind of money. But with the manufacturing costs coming down and fossil fuel prices going up (and up and up), the situation is changing rapidly in favor of solar.
Availability of Sunlight: Your local climate and weather patterns will greatly influence your ability to generate power from the sun. Its worth taking to the time to look at the available sunlight, often called insolation, for your area before buying a system.
Energy Usage vs Availability: The greatest production of solar energy comes during the day, obviously. The problem is that this is often the time of lowest consumption for a typical home is during the day (usually because no one is home). If this is the case storage becomes an issue, sometimes leading to expensive and maintenance-intensive batteries. However, the greatest usage of electricity across the entire grid occurs during the day (cooling office buildings, running factories, lighting warehouses, etc.). This means the utility has an incentive to encourage day-time production, meaning they may pay you more for your daytime electricity if you are connected to the grid.
Consumption Efficiency: To get the most out of your sun-powered system, you must decrease your consumption significantly. This can mean replacing appliances, lighting, and heating/air-conditioning systems, sometimes increasing initial costs.
Knowledge: Having a photovoltaic system is a learning process for the owner, and means they must be more conscientious about their consumption and production overall.
Now let’s get to the good stuff. Let’s talk about why you should have a photovoltaic system.
Advantages of powering your home with solar power
Long-term Economics: After the first 5-10 years, depending on your particular system economics, most systems have paid for themselves in lowered utility bills or even credit from the utility. Most systems run for decades needing very little additional money for maintenance. This means you will be producing nearly free electricity for years to come.
Reliability and Durability: Photovoltaics, after careful initial testing, often last for 20-30 years without problems. Some of the cells used in the 1950’s for the space program are still in use. And many people who bought into the first solar boom in the 1970’s are still using their panels to this day.
The Fuel is Free and (Almost) Eternal: What other system on the planet can you think of is going to provide humans with free energy for millions of years?
Little Pollution: The only pollution that is generated by solar panels is during their manufacturing process, and this has been greatly reduced with technology advancements in the last decade.
Quiet: Solar panels generate electricity silently, as opposed to wind generators which can be quite noisy in high wind.
Energy Independence: Systems can be set up so that your home or office is unaffected by grid blackouts. And you can also rest well at night knowing your not completely beholden to a large corporation for your energy.
Feeling Green: Whether or not you believe in global warming, there is virtually no data that would suggest burning coal and gas is good for us or the environment. Installing solar means you are investing in a healthy community and planet for generations. And knowing that you are doing your part is worth as much as any credit on your power bill.
Tax Incentives: Each state and most utilities have incentives for homeowners to install these systems. They range from rebates, to power buy-back incentives, to tax credits. Also the federal government recently lifted the cap on the 30% tax credit for residential systems. This means that if you spent $10,000 on a system, you would deduct $3,000 from the amount of taxes you owe for the year.
‘Peaceful’ Materials: Solar panels are generally made in peaceful countries in Europe, North America, and Asia. In other words, you don’t have to worry about your panel money going to support terrorist organizations or companies that exploit their employees.
About the Author:
Check out Solar Panels, Power Kits for more information on going green, solar energy, and power for your home.
Kriss Bergethon is a solar expert and writer. For more of his useful articles on solar power, please visit Solar Power, supplier of solar power panels, solar power kits, lighting and more.