There are many reasons homeowners decide to make the switch to solar power. Some may choose to install solar panels because of their environmental benefits, while others prefer to cut costs with the help of the sun. Making the switch to renewable energy may not be the best for everyone, though, so it is important to weigh the pros and cons of solar panel installation on your property before you begin.
The Benefits of Installing Solar Panels
Solar panel systems harness the sun’s rays and generate electricity to power your home. You can use solar energy to power your home completely, or just partially, depending on how much electricity you use and how much you’ll be able to produce with a solar system in your budget.
Solar panel systems have many advantages to consider, such as reducing your carbon footprint and promoting a cleaner environment as well as saving money and living more energy-independently.
Solar Panels Will Reduce Carbon Footprint
Solar energy is a clean, renewable source of energy that appeals to environmentally conscious homeowners. Unlike most fossil fuels, solar energy produces no direct environmental pollutants, which makes it the most eco-friendly energy choice you can make.
Reduce or Eliminate Your Utility Bill
One of the most attractive benefits of using solar energy is reducing or eliminating your monthly electric bill. As extreme weather increases, the need for extra heating and cooling increases, straining the electric grids around the country.
Solar panel systems typically last twenty to thirty years, which means you’ll see a significant return on your installation investment as your electric bills decrease.
Low Maintenance Costs
Maintenance costs for solar panel systems are quite low compared to mechanized home equipment, such as HVAC systems and generators. Once installed, solar panels immediately go to work, absorbing energy from the sun and conveying it to your home with no moving parts involved.
Solar panel systems require little maintenance. An annual check-up and periodic dusting are all that are necessary to keep them running in top shape.
Solar Panels Are Virtually Silent
Solar panels produce electricity without loud, mechanized systems, or moving parts. This feature makes them very quiet and safer for wildlife that may be endangered by systems with moving parts, such as wind turbines.
Solar Energy Is Very Accessible
Solar energy is arguably the most accessible form of energy because it works anywhere there is daylight. Even in colder, more overcast regions, solar panels still effectively harness the sun’s rays to produce electricity.
For remote, off-the-grid areas, solar panels offer the easiest way to access electricity. In areas where diesel or gas-powered generators would be the only reliable option, solar panels provide dependable energy without the need for potentially hazardous fuel tanks.
Excess Energy Can Be Sold Back to the Grid
In some regions, you can add net energy metering (NEM) to your system and earn credit as an energy producer. Net metering channels surplus energy produced by your solar panels back to the main grid and allows you to receive credit toward your electricity bill. That means that when your solar panels do not produce enough energy, you can tap into those credits for your home energy.
Another option allows homeowners to install solar panel systems and earn money. Power companies incentivize homeowners to install solar panels, which produce electricity for the utilities and will enable them to market their energy as “renewable.” In return, Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) are issued for every 1,000 kilowatt-hours of energy produced. These certificates can be worth up to $300 each.
Solar Panels Increase Property Values
As more people become conscious of the effect energy production and consumption have on the planet, the appeal of solar panel systems has increased considerably. Today, solar panels can raise the resale value of your home by a respectable margin, offsetting the price of installation for you.
It may also be easier to sell your home since many people would like a solar-powered home without having to go through the cost and hassle of actually installing it for themselves.
Solar Panels Are More Affordable Than Ever
The price of installing a solar panel system has decreased by nearly 10% since 2017, and prices continue to decline. In many global markets, solar power is much less expensive than other forms of energy.
Financial incentives are also available to offset installation and maintenance costs, and many state and local governments offer special benefits and tax rebates to encourage homeowners to explore the energy option for themselves.
The Downside of Installing Solar Panels
There are some disadvantages to solar panels, and it is vital to acknowledge and review them when you’re considering installing the technology. From cloudy days to pricey installations, solar panel systems may not be the ideal choice for your locale or your budget. Let’s look at some of the cons of solar panels.
Solar Energy Is Weather-Dependent
Since solar energy requires the sun to generate power, it is very much dependent on the weather and the amount of sunlight your property receives. Areas that receive less daily sun on average due to cloud cover or less intense sunlight due to their global position may require battery systems to store solar energy.
Solar Panel Systems Come With An Up-Front Cost
Though in the long run, the cost-savings are high, the initial investment of solar panel installation can average around $14,550. That cost runs even higher if you install a battery backup system for storing energy or if your home’s roof requires special planning or equipment to install the panels.
Total costs for your solar panel system installation are determined by several factors, including:
- The total cost of the equipment
- Average household energy consumption
- Labor costs
- Financing Options
- Government incentives
The good news is that installation costs have continued to decrease steadily over recent years and with the many government incentives available, as well as low-interest financing options, most homeowners will find that solar panels are much more affordable than they seem at first glance.
How Long Does It Take for Solar Panels To Pay For Themselves?
There are many variables to consider when it comes to solar panels and how long it takes for them to pay for themselves. The most significant part of the cost is the initial installation cost. It could be just a few years or it may be as long as ten years before the cost benefits of that are realized. Most local installation companies will help you with these calculations in a free consultation. If you’d like to get a quick estimate, you can also use our solar panel calculator here.
Solar Panels Don’t Generate Power at Night
One disadvantage of solar energy is that the panels cannot collect and generate power at night because there is no sunlight, of course. Batteries for energy storage are necessary if you use a lot of energy from sundown to sunrise, and they add to your installation costs.
You Can’t Install a Home Solar System Yourself
For some homeowners, the potential for cutting costs has led them to explore a do-it-yourself approach to installing a solar power system. It’s easy enough to buy solar panels, and some even simplify installation to such a degree that homeowners can manage it.
However, home improvement experts and professional solar installers do not recommend self-installation for several reasons:
- Electrical Knowledge: Wiring a solar energy system correctly requires specialized knowledge and training that the average homeowner does not have. Like any type of electrical wiring, bad connections not only put your solar panel system at risk but your entire home as well.
- Maximum Output: The layout of your solar panels may be tricky. To maximize your energy collection, you will need the insight and expertise of solar energy pros to accomplish it.
- Bureaucracy: Solar panel system installation requires permits and approvals that may be difficult and complex to get. Professional solar installers have experience with requesting and scheduling and can streamline the process, saving you time and money.
- Safety: Regardless of the height of your roof, there are safety issues when installing anything that high up. Having a professional do the job is safer and will save you insurance money.
Your Roof May Not Be Suitable for Solar Panels
Solar panels cannot be installed on every type of roof. The composition of your roof, including the materials covering it, are a deciding factor in whether a solar energy system can be installed. If you’re determined to have one but have a slate or wood roof, you may have to replace your roof before the panels can even be installed.
The design of your roof may be an issue as well. A steep roof or one with dramatic angles or skylights can create a complicated situation for the solar installers as they attempt to arrange the panels. They may be forced to place the panels in smaller, separate arrays, increasing the installation price.
Depending on your energy use profile, your rooftop may not be big enough to support the solar panels you need. You may need to use additional ground space to install enough panels to power your needs, or you may need to settle for partial solar power and continue to use your utilities.
Solar Energy Storage Can Be Expensive
Solar batteries allow you to store extra energy generated by the solar panels for use later. You can pair solar batteries with solar panels and create a “hybrid solar system” that provides reliable power during the night and in poor weather. It can free you of your dependence on the utility company, but it comes at a cost.
Solar energy storage batteries are expensive, with many residential solar batteries costing upwards of $7,000, with some ranging as high as $14,000. For example, a Tesla Powerwall battery can cost $8,500 to purchase and install; that’s in addition to the cost of the solar panel system purchase and installation.
Battery costs have decreased alongside solar system costs, but they are still expensive. Tax credits and incentives are available, but many people simply can’t afford batteries even with these financial perks.
So, Is Installing Solar Panels Worth It?
After weighing the pros and cons, you may still be wondering – Is solar panel installation worth it? There are five steps you can take to help you decide if a solar panel system is the right choice for you:
- Review your Electric Bill: Look over your electric bill and calculate how much you will spend on electricity over one year, five years, and ten years. If the number is high, then solar panels will likely be a good investment.
- Estimate the Cost of Solar Panels: Take your energy calculations from above and use a solar cost calculator to get an estimate of the cost for installing the number of solar panels you need to support that energy use. Be sure to get quotes from three or four different contractors.
- Calculate and Determine Financing: There are different types of financing available for solar panels, such as solar loans, PACE financing, and a solar lease or power purchase agreement. Look into if you are eligible for any of these options and how much they could save you.
- Evaluate the Sunlight Exposure: Consider how much sunlight your home gets, which side gets the most and if there are any trees or buildings that could block the sun from hitting solar panels.
- Incentive Eligibility: Assess which federal and state tax credits and incentives you may be eligible for. The federal tax credit allows you to claim up to 22% of installation costs, and state incentives range from cashback to property tax exemptions to waived fees.
Solar panel installation is an important decision. Armed with the pros and cons listed above, you can make the right decision for yourself and your home.
Solving Solar’s mission is to assist US homeowners who want to make the switch to solar energy to reduce their carbon footprint and help the environment. We work with experienced, professional solar panel installers, connecting them with homeowners in the area who are ready to install solar panels.
For more information about solar panel installation and the incentives offered, including the Federal Residential Solar Energy Credit, visit Solving Solar online today. You can browse our solar panel installation resources, explore financing options, and use our pricing calculator to estimate your solar energy needs.
If you’re ready to get answers to your questions and start planning for your solar panel system installation, visit Solving Solar online today and get a quote!