Solar energy and renewable energies are hot-button topics nowadays. With the political discourse between renewable and non-renewable energies, it can sometimes be challenging to separate objective reasoning and political positioning. Solar power remains a fantastic option for renewable, alternative energy, but it’s far from perfect.
If you’re looking into switching to solar energy, we’re here to help. Read on for some of the most significant benefits and most important drawbacks of solar energy.
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Advantages of Solar Energy
We’ll begin with the advantages of solar energy to look at what you have to gain by including solar power in your utilities. Consider these eleven reasons as some of the greatest perks of switching to solar power.
1. Federal Solar Tax Credits
One of the most notable reasons to switch to solar energy is to receive tax credits. As the world’s nations push more and more towards shedding fossil fuels and adopting renewable sources, many governments promote this with tax credits.
Tax credits are exactly as they sound – governmental bodies give eligible people credits towards their taxes. These can increase refunds, lower taxes and bills, and several other perks.
Look into your local government to know what’s on offer and how to qualify for them. The federal government offers a tax credit regardless of what your state offers.
Currently, the Investment Tax Credit is claimable on federal income taxes for a percentage of the cost of the system. The system provides a 26% tax credit as a whole, which will likely be lower in the coming years. Take advantage of the tax credits while you can!
2. Local Incentives
Though the federal government gives one set of incentives, many states may provide their own. Florida, for example, offers solar rebates to homeowners that are switching to solar, and they’re one of many states that do so.
It’s also worth noting that these local incentives also stack with the federal solar tax credits. That means that the smart homeowner can double-dip into these incentives. Receiving these tax credits both on the federal and state level can practically pay for the system as a whole by the time you’re done!
3. Reduce Your Electric Bill
To continue with the financial benefits, one of the most significant reasons to switch is to reduce your electric bill. Solar power doesn’t necessarily replace your need for other energy sources but rather lessens it.
Placing an array of solar panels on your roof can supplement your energy usage by using solar panels first and other sources as a backup. As a result, the average home will use significantly less power as a whole.
Overall, this will drastically reduce your electric bill. In some cases, a solar panel array can lower your bill by as much as $1,000 a year.
4. Net Metering
Another fantastic financial incentive is benefiting from net metering. Net metering is a mechanism that gives credit to solar energy users for the electricity they add to the grid.
Net metering is excellent for reducing your bill along with your lower energy use. A home will likely generate more power than they use during day hours, especially if the house has few residents.
When this happens, the energy returns to the grid and goes to the local power supply. Generating this electricity benefits everyone and lowers the power use as a whole. It’s a great way to benefit your community and cash in at the same time.
5. It Feels Good to Have Energy Independence
Our next benefit is simple – sometimes it’s just nice not to depend on others. Power companies benefit the entire community, but they have frequent issues. Such problems could be as simple as rising costs that won’t affect you as much when generating your power.
The same is true if there are issues with the local power grid. Having solar power to keep your electronics running when the grid goes down is immensely helpful. Having some level of autonomy over your power generation is a massive boon rather than being tied to everything that affects local power companies.
6. Solar Energy Is Insurance Against Rising Power Rates
Along with energy independence comes substantial insurance against economic issues. During times of strife, power rates can sometimes spike – inclement weather, incoming elections, and the like. Solar energy is a great way to insure yourself against these rates.
By not being as dependent on local power, you won’t have to worry about their rates as much. The independence given here is one of the many ways that solar energy pays for itself. While others worry about adjusting their budget to the new, higher rates, you’re enjoying having the sun power your home at a much more modest price.
7. Batteries Keep the Lights on During Power Outages
One of the many misconceptions about solar power is that the power stops the moment the sun goes behind a cloud. Simply put, this is not true and is usually only said as a talking point from those trying to discount renewable energy. The same goes for wind energy – once the wind stops blowing, the power supposedly stops.
The reality is that solar power charges batteries that then distribute power through the house. When the sun stops shining – whether it be because of storms, a cloudy day, or just nighttime – the power is still flowing.
When the power goes out from an outage of any sort, the solar array batteries keep the lights on. As you can imagine, this is incredibly helpful during stormy seasons and events such as hurricanes or other severe weather.
If your area suffers from frequent brownouts or rolling blackouts, solar panels can help to reduce the inconvenience of this. While this power won’t last forever, the backup batteries can help to keep your lights on long enough to keep the power going until it comes back up.
8. Solar Increases Your Home’s Value
If you’re considering selling your home, looking into solar power is an excellent idea. Even if you don’t intend to use solar power yourself, many new homeowners are interested in switching to the market. Doing so will increase your home’s value significantly, allowing you to add much more than just the installment price onto your home.
Having solar energy is likely to be a selling point for many new homeowners. Members of the younger generations are more environmentally minded and will look favorably on a hope that has renewable energy as an accessible source.
Even if you’re purchasing homes specifically to sell them, this is still a great idea. You don’t have to live in a house to make the house use solar power!
9. Solar Is a Smart Investment
Solar is more than just practical for your home. As a renewable energy category, solar is arguably the most popular. A big reason for this is that it applies to the home.
Due to size and geographic restrictions, other renewable sources such as hydroelectricity and wind power simply can’t translate to the house yet. For example, some areas don’t have a major water source nearby, and others experience only a few extremely windy days a year.
However, the sun shines practically everywhere, and you’d likely struggle to find a home that can’t utilize it. Investing in solar now is an excellent idea as the market will almost undoubtedly only increase as it becomes more popular and affordable.
Consider looking into solar power for profit, whether you intend to utilize it for home power or not. Many companies are growing exponentially every year as nations come to rely more and more on renewable energy in our goals to shimmy away from more pollutant-heavy sources.
10. Solar Is Good for the Environment
Speaking of pollutant-heavy sources, one of the most popular reasons for switching to solar energy nowadays is almost always to help the environment. Solar energy helps to create clean and renewable power from an effectively infinite source and creates virtually no carbon footprint. The only pollutants that come from solar are during manufacturing, which is the same for all goods.
Solar power is also incredibly powerful – so much so that we can’t apply it fully. If we were somehow able to capture all of the solar energy hitting the earth for just a single hour, we would have enough energy to power the world for an entire year.
Switching to solar power helps reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels that are steadily poisoning our environment. Solar has fewer pollutants, fewer greenhouse gasses, and a much lower carbon footprint. As far as helping the environment goes, it’s one of the best possible options available to humanity.
11. Solar Prices Have Dropped Substantially
For quite a while, one of the main reasons to avoid switching to solar power was the high cost. When it first became a viable option, the operation prices were significantly higher.
As technology advances, solar energy has become more and more affordable. Nowadays, a solar array has a much more customizable cost and can fit most budgets. While it isn’t the cheapest thing in the world, switching to a solar power rig is much less expensive than many expect, depending on your needs.
Additionally, the money saved from switching will quickly pay for the solar power array. By using tax credits, net metering, lower bills, and all the other financial incentives, your pockets will quickly fill back up.
Disadvantages of Solar Energy
Though there are many benefits, it isn’t fair to say that solar energy is perfect. There are many negatives and drawbacks to using a renewable solar source. Here are some of the most notable cons to using solar energy.
1. Solar Panels Are Large and Bulky
One of the more dominant reasons for not using solar panels is an aesthetic choice. Many aren’t fans of what solar panels look like at the end of an installation.
Such a thing is entirely up to a person’s own choice. While solar panels are large and bulky, that doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t aesthetically pleasing. If you want a minimalist design, solar panels may not be the best choice for your home’s appearance.
2. Solar Panel Placement Matters
Another issue is that the installer cannot simply place solar panels anywhere that they would like and be done with them. Solar panels need to have an optimal placement to ensure that they can catch as much of the sunlight as possible. Proper positioning helps them operate with the most efficiency and power generation as they possibly can.
Placing solar panels in a less optimal space can make it so that the installation is practically useless. You’ll have a much less effective panel if you install them under trees or somewhere they won’t get proper sunlight. Unfortunately, this also means that the installer has to place them somewhere they may not prefer to.
3. Solar Energy Is Considered an Intermittent Energy Source
A common drawback that adversaries of renewable energy cite is that most are “intermittent energy sources.” In short, this means that they aren’t constantly generating electricity.
Hydroelectric, wind, and solar energy sources all suffer from the issue of only generating electricity when the conditions are suitable. Solar is a predictable energy source, as we typically know when the sun will be shining and where.
Still, there will be large portions of a 24-hour cycle where the solar panels are not generating electricity. Such a drawback isn’t severe, as the average home uses considerably less energy at night. Nonetheless, it is still essential to be aware of this drawback.
4. Solar Panels Can Require Upfront Investment
Though solar has become considerably cheaper, that doesn’t make it free. You will need to make an upfront investment to pay for the installment of solar panels. The installation fees can be well into the thousands, depending on the size and number of panels you need. Costs are often in the five-digit price range.
While tax credits can help lower the cost, you still will need to supply the funding for an installation. Ultimately, the price will depend on your home, how many panels you’re installing, and several other factors. Though the money will eventually be a net positive from lower bills, you will need to save up a considerable investment for the upfront costs.
Read More: Why Are Solar Panels So Expensive?
5. Solar Panels Need to Be Removed From Your Roof for Repair or Replacement
Another minor problem for solar panels is that they get in the way when a roof needs repairing or replacement. If you need to replace your roof, the entire roof is often torn off or stripped away. When solar panels are already on the roof, it is virtually impossible to complete this process without removing them.
Because of this, solar panels will need removal during maintenance. Some roofing companies may charge an extra fee for putting in the labor of removing the solar panels. Others may not have the tools and experience to remove them, forcing you to contact your solar company and have them remove and reinstall them as well.
Such a complication adds to the cost of operations and the time it takes to replace a roof as well. The headache there only grows if you’re trying to sell the home and are working on getting the roof repairs done as soon as possible.
Still, overall, this is a relatively minor inconvenience. The benefits of having a solar panel array are likely to heavily outweigh needing to wait a bit longer for roof repairs to finish.
6. Solar Panels Manufacturing Has a Pollution & Environmental Impact
Solar panels are a much cleaner and more renewable resource than most other energy sources, especially fossil fuels. Still, it needs to be said that there are still pollution and environmental impacts to their manufacturing.
There are no global warming emissions with the generation of electricity, but the manufacturing, transporting, installation, decommissioning, and dismantling steps all cause emissions. These emissions can add up severely over the manufacturing processes.
Overall, the environmental impact of solar panels is a positive one. The net emissions of manufacturing do not outweigh the benefits of a lack of emissions during solar energy production. In full, the carbon footprint of solar panels is lesser.
That said, it’s dishonest to pretend that solar power has no carbon footprint whatsoever. While it’s considerably less than fossil fuels, solar panels will still impact the environment, and such an impact is enough to turn away many new installers.
Read More: Do Solar Panels Cause Cancer?
When combining all of the pros and cons, it’s easy to see that the good outweighs the bad. Whether you’re switching to solar power to save some money in your wallet or because you want to help the environment, you’ll have plenty of great reasons to make the change.
Though there are some costs and a few negative impacts to the environment upfront, solar panels are a net good for both the environment and your bank account. However, there are investment, placement, and environmental factors to consider. What may be perfect for one home may be too much of a hassle for another.
Ultimately, it’s a personal choice that should focus on one’s own preference and situation.