Solar power has been around for decades, but it’s still something of a mystery to most people when you get down to the specifics. Most of us understand on a basic level how solar power works, but like it or not, there’s a lot of poor and even incorrect information out there about solar power that may steer would-be-solar-enthusiasts away from the technology. Here’s a look at the top 5 misconceptions about solar power systems that will hopefully clear things up.
5 Misconceptions about Solar Power
Solar Energy Systems Are Too Expensive
While solar energy systems do have a large barrier to entry (an average cost of $10-$50k depending on the options and the size of the system) there are a few things to think about when considering the cost of solar. First, consider that while a solar energy system has a high purchase cost, if you have the average energy bill of $95.66/month, you could pay off your solar power system completely, just on electricity savings, in about 9 years. Considering that solar power systems can last as long as 50 years, they do pay for themselves over time. If you can’t swing the down payment to get into a system, consider some of the many solar leasing companies. They install the solar power system on your house and as long as your current energy bill is $120/month or higher, they guarantee to lower your monthly energy cost; this way, you save money each month, simply by making the switch.
It Takes More Energy to Make a Solar Panel Than the Panel Can Provide
Many people are negative about alternative energy sources, claiming that the fossil fuel usage and energy costs to produce these forms of alternative energy end up creating more greenhouse gases in production that they will ever save in the long run. There are certain situations where this is true (such as if you live in an area where your power is generated from coal and you drive an electric car) but in the case of solar energy, most estimates peg the break-even point for energy generation versus consumption for a solar panel at 2-3 years. Considering that most solar panels last for 25 years, and premium panels last upwards of 50 years, they definitely fall in the category of efficient and green in the long run.
Solar Power Systems Require a Backup Power Source
Some of the people who strongly consider solar power do so because they have an isolated home where the cost of tying to the grid is comparable to installing a solar power system. You may be under the impression that if you rely completely on solar, you won’t be able to use electricity when the sun is down or when it’s cloudy, but there are plenty of options including battery systems and large wattage systems that will not only provide plenty of power to run everything you need to plug-in during the day, but can also provide several days of electricity without the panels actively creating new energy. Be warned that large battery systems can be costly, but when faced with the choice of running power lines to an isolated home, the cost may be negligible.
Solar Power Systems Require an Expensive Battery System
While battery systems do a great job of providing backup for your home when the sun goes down or behind the clouds, they can be cost prohibitive for those trying to get a solar system up and running on a budget. A great alternative, and the predominate choice for new installations, is to tie the solar panel system into the electric grid. If you live in a region that supports net metering, tying into the grid will allow you to put energy back into the grid during the day and take energy from the grid at night, the idea being that if you have a solar panel system with enough panels to cover your average energy usage, your electric bill should come to zero at the end of the month, but by being on the grid, if you need a little extra energy one month, you just pay for the electricity you use.
Solar Power Requires You to Sacrifice Modern Conveniences
Going green is often associated with making sacrifices and putting the environment before your own needs. While this isn’t a bad idea and can help you to clear some of the unnecessary routines from your life, don’t think of solar power as living in a hut and having to suddenly make your coffee over a campfire or vacuum your carpet with heavy broom. A modern solar power system can provide enough power to cover all of your electricity usage, and one of the nice things about designing your solar power system is you have the option to choose how large or how small to make it. You can design it to completely replace your current energy usage, make it a little larger than your current needs (so you can pick up that new electric car) or you can design it to cover a portion of your electricity needs and cover the rest using your local utility.
Hopefully this article has cleared up a few of your misconceptions about solar power. If you still have questions or concerns, ask someone who’s installed a solar power system and explore the options available for your home. Solar power isn’t the right fit for everyone, but if it’s the right fit for you, the sooner you make the switch, the sooner you can start saving money and helping the environment.