As you consider switching to solar as your home’s main power source, and doing research to learn more, you’ll definitely come across several reasons why you should or should not make the change. But do you know the real benefits and drawbacks of solar power? Some of them have changed over the past few years, so you want to make sure you’re not working with outdated information. Knowing which potential upsides you want most – and which downsides you’re most willing to deal with – will do a great deal to help you make a decision you’ll be happy with.
So with that in mind, let’s look into the most important pros and cons of switching to solar power.
The Benefits of Switching to Solar
As you’ve probably heard, there’s a vast range of upsides associated with installing solar panels, environmental and economic alike. Given the advancements made with solar panel technology over the past few years, their accessibility is just one of those positives. Here are a few of the other more positive reasons to make the switch to solar:
- Energy independence. If you’re interested in going off the grid entirely, installing solar panels is a great way to do so. You’ll no longer have to rely on traditional sources of energy, and can elect to charge your home solely through your own solar energy.
- Solar panels are long-lasting and low-maintenance. Not only do most solar panels last, on average, from 25 to 30 years, they also don’t require much in the way of upkeep. Brushing off debris such as leaves, branches, and snow is probably the most you will have to do in that regard.
- Decreasing your electricity costs. This is one of the most notable pros of solar power: that it can help you save substantially on your electric bill. Not only that, but several states also require that utilities offer net metering, meaning that homeowners can offset their electricity costs with the energy their solar panels produce. That excess energy can typically be sold back to the utility, and added to their energy bills as credits.
- Lowering your carbon footprint. Hands-down one of the biggest benefits, the use of solar energy means a minimal amount of carbon and other pollutants generated and released into the air. And because solar power is a renewable resource, it’ll never run out, so you can keep using it without having a negative impact on the environment. It’s stable, clean, and reliable.
The Drawbacks of Choosing Solar Power
Of course, solar power isn’t perfect. As with most any other investment, there are a few drawbacks that come with switching to solar to power your home. For example, while it’s accessible, it can still be expensive, and there are places where lower sunlight and cooler weather do make a difference. Here are some of the main cons that come with deciding to use solar power:
- High initial costs. While there are several rebates and financing options available to homeowners who want to invest in solar, the fact is, paying for solar upfront without them is fairly pricey. And not everybody is equipped to make that kind of payment initially. It is important to keep this in mind, as well as to do so while looking into what financing options are available in your area so you have every advantage at your disposal.
- Weather dependency. While solar panels do work when it’s rainy or cloudy, their efficiency is greatly affected. So if you have several days of overcast weather and low sunlight in succession, it could have a significant impact on your energy bills. Add to that the fact that you cannot collect solar energy at night, and that you might live in an area with lower “solar potential” in general, and it could make solar panels seem less worthwhile for you.
- Inconvenient in cities and similar locales. This is an unfortunate drawback – if you live in a city or somewhere with more limited space, that does not necessarily change the number of solar panels you’d need (i.e. make it fewer). Solar panels have a lower power density, which essentially means you need a fairly substantial area of solar panels to produce enough energy to power a home, and if your roof isn’t big enough to accommodate them, then it might not be worth the investment.
- You can’t take solar panels with you. So if you’re about to move, you might want to think twice about installing them. While it’s true that doing so will add significant value to your home, it takes awhile to reach the point of breaking even on your investment. It’s said that the average time it takes to get there is about seven years, so keep this in mind if a move is in your future. If you have some time until that’s on your radar, it might be a better idea than if you’re trying to relocate within the next year or two.
Making the Solar Switch
Changing how you power your home is a huge step, and it isn’t an easy call to make. But the more informed you are about doing so, the more empowered you’ll feel. While there can definitely be drawbacks associated with installing solar panels, knowing what they are and understanding them in-depth can help you know whether the benefits will outweigh them for you. That way, you’ll be better equipped to make a decision about solar panels with which you can be satisfied.