What Are the Main Solar Energy Pros and Cons?
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Solar power is a topic that has gained a lot of controversy as of late. Like everything else, it has both positives and negatives that need examining. Before deciding if solar is the renewable energy source for your home, take some time to weigh the pros and cons.
The Cons of Solar Energy
Although it would be best to use an energy source that has no cons, this is impossible to do. All solutions in the form of renewable energy have another side to the coin. As a consumer, it is your social, environmental, and financial responsibility to decide if the pros outweigh the cons.
Production is Weather Dependent
One of the major cons of solar-generated power is that the weather impacts production. Solar panels can generate electricity on a cloudy day. However, extreme weather can block most or all of the sun. When the earth rotates on its axis in its orbit of the sun and it becomes nighttime, solar panels don’t produce electricity.
Unclean Solar Panel Creation
Solar panels provide clean energy for 40 plus years, however, creating them isn’t always a clean process. The highest quality solar panels come from silicon extracted from quartz.
To extract the silicon, you need to mine and heat the quartz. When quartz goes through the heating processes, sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide are emitted into the air.
After they’re heated the prepared silicon primes the wafers used in solar panels. As a byproduct of this process silicon tetrachloride, a harmful chemical, is formed.
Most manufacturing companies recycle this waste properly. However, if it isn’t done correctly it could cause harm to people and the environment. Although dramatically cleaner than lignite, coal, oil and natural gas, solar isn’t the cleanest form of energy.
Underdeveloped American Recycling Programs
One of the reasons why solar isn’t as clean as it could be is that recycling isn’t required for Americans. In fact, Europe only just started requiring solar recycling.
Recycling solar panels makes their life cycles far cleaner. This is because most of the solar panel can recycle into new solar panels.
However, in America, profit is king. This means solar panel recycling facilities aren’t easy to come by. As a result, many damaged or retired solar panels are sitting in landfills.
Solar Arrays Can’t Store Excess Generation
Energy storage is another problem for solar. Solar panels on their own do a great job of generating electricity, but they don’t store it for later. This means that no matter how much energy you generate you won’t have it when the sun goes down.
To counter this, many have stayed connected to the electrical grid. Staying connected to the grid allows individuals to still have power when the sun isn’t out.
However, the power coming from the grid is often from fossil fuels — meaning that the problem is being minimized instead of eliminated.
Solar Battery Storage Is Expensive
To eliminate the need for the grid, some with solar have invested in battery storage. These batteries, however, are not as developed as solar. As a result, they are just as expensive as a solar array, making them unobtainable for most.
Hard To Get Out of Solar Leases
There are three major financing options available to solar customers. You can purchase the system with cash, get a loan or lease an array.
Often people opt-in for leased solar arrays because their monthly payments are lower. However, what they aren’t told is that there are numerous downsides to having leased panels.
This small detail makes selling a home with solar a pain. Many have had miserable solar experiences because they tried to sell their home with a leased solar array installed.
Not Every Home Qualifies
Another misgiving of solar is that it isn’t a perfect fit for everyone. In fact, potential customers go through a screening process before receiving a quote.
If you don’t qualify, the solar company may give you an average cost but it won’t be customized to your home’s energy needs. This means the estimate won’t be accurate. However, if you don’t qualify, you won’t be able to install solar anyway, so getting a personalized quote would be pointless.
The Benefits of Solar Energy
Solar, like any other big decision, should be considered fully. Here are some of the benefits that come as a result of solar installations.
Reduce Electric Bill
One of the major reasons why people have invested in solar is the monetary benefits that come with it. The federal solar tax credit has made solar an affordable option for most Americans.
Those with residential solar now spend less over the duration of the solar array’s lifespan than they would have with their utility company. This benefit is increased when the utility provides solar incentives to their solar customers.
Low Maintenance and Long Life
Another benefit of solar is that even though you own the system, they don’t require much maintenance. Because solar arrays don’t have moving parts, all you need to worry about is cleaning your solar panels once in a while.
Even though solar panels do have a long life span, things can go wrong. If this happens, your product warranty or homeowners insurance will cover most of these malfunctions.
Improves Air Quality Over System’s Lifetime
Because solar panels last such a long time they have a huge impact on air quality. Forty or more years of clean air results when solar replaces fossil fuels.
As of March of 2019, there were 64.2 gigawatts of solar installed across America. This is equivalent to powering over 12.3 million homes. This is expected to increase annually by 15 gigawatts.
Not only does solar power help clean the air, but it creates a cycle of cleaner air. This is because solar panels help clean the air and solar panels work better when the air is clean. Solar panels create, in a sense, a better environmental ecosystem at the level of residential energy production.
Several Solar Storage Options
Although home battery storage is expensive, there are other affordable solar backup options. Choosing one of these backup options gives people the ability to power essentials during a power outage.
Go Solar Group offers four levels of solar backup to meet everyone’s needs. These levels include everything from the Tesla Powerwall to an emergency outlet.
Increase in US Solar Panel Recycling Facilities
Although American solar recycling is subpar, efforts are being made to improve it. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has worked to form the SEIA National PV Recycling Program. This program provides benefits to SEIA members that utilize authorized solar recycling partners.
Solar Panels Can Increase the Value of Your Home
If you purchase solar, you also increase the value of your home. How much of an increase depends on the area you live in and the popularity of solar in your area. However, on average, homes across the nation have sold for $15,000 more when they had solar installed.
Solar installations have become viewed as an upgrade. This is especially true if purchased instead of leased.
Increase Impact of Energy Conservation Gadgets
Solar is also a component of smart home living. Conserving energy is the new in thing and smart homes are the means to this end.
With smart home gadgets, you are able to control your energy consumption even when you aren’t home. When you combine smart homes with solar power, your energy generation is clean as well.
There are many smart home gadgets that combine well with solar. Some of these include smart thermostats, solar shades and power conserving lights. When you combine solar with these power-conserving devices, you are able to maximize their use.
What’s Your Conclusion?
In the end, it comes down to what matters most to you. If you want to make a difference and decrease your power bill, solar could be the right fit for you.