The Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Energy: A Comprehensive Guide to Everything You Need to Know

solar panel
If you are interested in installing an efficient solar panel system for your house, you probably know how it is-- you’ve already been bombarded by solar marketing, either via spammy ads, which promise free panels or by solar salesmen who want to convince you to purchase their products. In order to decide what's best for your situation you’ve got to understand the advantages and disadvantages of going solar and just like all energy decisions, it’s a mixed bag that has its own pros and cons. Among all the common drawbacks and benefits that come with transitioning to a solar-powered system, here are the most important arguments both for and against solar energy.

Advantages of using solar energy

There are a number of advantages to using solar energy. Here’s a list of the top advantages to be kept in mind:

1. Solar energy can either reduce or completely eliminate your power utility bills

It’s no surprise that this is the first benefit we’ve listed. When you use solar panels in your house, you can generate electricity on your own and become less dependent on the grid for your electricity supply, thus slashing your power bills. Most solar panels have a lifespan of 25-30 years, meaning you can slash your power expenses for decades on end by using solar energy. You can use various tools that are available online for calculating how much you stand to gain in the long term by switching to solar energy, and see various personalized projections regarding your savings and initial investment.

2. Solar energy can raise your home’s value

There are millions of US homeowners who would like to install solar panel systems but lack the time to carry out their plans. There are numerous financial benefits that you stand to gain by switching to solar energy. Recent studies have shown that property prices tend to increase when solar panels are installed. Therefore, even if you wind up having to move out of your house early, you can still recoup your investment this way when you finish selling your house.

3. Solar energy can earn you money and help you recoup your investment early

The US has a number of incentives encouraging people to adopt solar energy measures. Therefore, you can use your solar panels for earning a tidy amount of profit apart from power savings, which can help you recoup your initial investment early on. SRECs or solar renewable energy credits & net metering can help you earn extra cash or offset your bills when your solar panels produce energy. In this way you can receive compensation for the energy that you sell to the grid. In case you live in states where solar incentives are available, you can gain both long-term and short-term benefits from your investment.

4. You can reduce your exposure to rising energy expenses by going solar

Most homeowners are anxious about their power bills since there’s usually nothing that they can do for controlling their electricity rates. While solar panel costs have fallen by 70% during the last 10 years alone, electricity costs have gone up by 5% - A trend that’s expected to rise even further. When you go solar, you have greater control over your energy expenses. With utilities starting to cater increasingly to renewable energy sources and the US government capping the emission of greenhouse gases, this is arguably the best time for you to jump in on the solar bandwagon.

5. Solar energy decreases carbon emissions & protects our environment while enabling the US to become energy independent

Solar energy happens to be a renewable, clean energy source, which can lower CO2 emissions and reduce our species’ impact on our environment. Unlike conventional fossil fuels, solar energy doesn’t emit pollutants like CO2 into the water supply and atmosphere directly. The most patriotic and admirable advantage that comes with solar energy is that it is both beneficial for our environment and can help the US transition from its fossil fuel dependency as well. By pursuing energy solutions that reduce total US emissions, our country is able to reduce its reliance on various fossil fuel exporters abroad. With the world searching for ways to decrease its CO2 emissions due to its effects on the world’s climate, solar energy is an extremely clean and efficient alternative that is good for both the country and the environment.

Disadvantages of Solar energy

Solar energy is not without its cons. Here are 5 important cons you must account for while considering a shift to solar energy

1. A solar panel system may not work for all kinds of roofs

Rooftop panels are installed by connecting ‘racking’, which is a mounting system to the roof. Roofing materials that were used in historical or older homes, like cedar or slate tiles can pose difficulties to solar installers and might block solar power efforts. In addition to that, many apartment buildings and homes have rooftop additions like decks and skylights, which makes the installation of solar panels a costly or difficult process. But this doesn’t have to be a long-term impediment since you have a number of other alternatives as well. In case rooftop installation is not possible in your home, you could still purchase a ground-based solar panel network or purchase a share in community solar gardens to work around this problem.

2. Solar energy isn’t ideal if you are looking to move

While solar energy is a terrific financial investment, you will need a few years before the savings reach a breakeven point. In the US, it is estimated that it would take around 7½ years to break even on a solar panel investment. For young homeowners looking to move away soon, solar panels might not seem like a worthwhile investment. However, as you’ve already seen, solar panels can increase the value of your property and net you a bigger amount when you complete the sale of your house. As long as your system is bought via a loan or cash purchase, you can avoid this disadvantage.

3. Lower electricity costs mean lower solar savings as well

One of solar energy’s biggest advantages is that it can reduce your reliance on electricity from the primary electricity grid and help you save money that would have otherwise gone for paying your electricity bill. But this is purely on the assumption that homeowners have costly bills to pay. For homeowners living in states like Louisiana, which has subsidized rates for electricity, costs are 25% lower compared to other states. Installing solar panels here isn’t going to be as appealing as it’s likely to be to homeowners in Hawaii, where electricity costs are double the national average electricity price.

4. Unless you have solar financing options, your initial investment can look intimidating

Authorities across the country are in a fix over how much property owners should be asked to pay for their initial investment. The total price of an efficient solar panel system is dependent on financing options, rebates, and tax credits. However, even then, the initial investment required for a solar panel system can be huge if you’re unable to get a solar energy loan that requires zero down payment. It’s obvious that not all people will have the ability to pay out-of-pocket for their solar panels. But there are multiple power purchase deals, leases, and state-backed programs that enable people to purchase solar panels systems at affordable rates.

5. Finding high-quality, local solar installation providers and comparing prices can be an arduous task

Homeowners are often wary of engaging with solar energy providers since they’ve likely to have had a bad experience with pushy solar panel sales reps using high pressure tactics on customers to enter twenty-year solar agreements before explaining the offer in a comprehensive manner or talking about how credible their solar company is. There is a lot of competition in this field, which is causing companies to deploy aggressive sales measures for capturing the market. Therefore, it can be a difficult and stress-inducing process for most people looking to purchase solar panels.

After going through this list of advantages and disadvantages, there are a few key takeaways:

Rooftop solar panels are not ideal for everybody. But that isn’t a deal-breaker. Like all other home efficiency products, solar panels offer many advantages to homeowners looking to slash their electricity bills and upgrade their energy sources, but not everyone is looking for that. Solar energy must be treated like an investment. It’s an investment that carries minimal risk and hefty returns but requires a major investment as well. The United States is marching towards a future where clean energy rules the roost. The US is decreasing its reliance on fossil fuels like oil and coal and moving towards renewable sources. Solar energy is among the best consumer-friendly, scalable energy solutions available for improving home energy efficiency.