Comparing Solar Energy Advantages and Disadvantages

You've probably seen solar panels installed on houses and businesses in your neighborhood, and you've no doubt come across a neighbor or friend extolling the virtues of a rooftop solar power system. And along with every piece of positive news, someone might have mentioned a bit of negative feedback on solar power. While there are both pros and cons to solar power, the advantages far outweigh the negatives.

Consider these solar energy advantages and disadvantages when weighing the benefits of what this renewable power source has to offer:

Advantages of solar power

Cost savings from solar

So what's great about solar? The biggest advantage of using solar energy is the potential savings you’ll receive. A rooftop solar system soaks up the sun's rays and converts this energy into usable electric power. This supplements energy pulled from the grid, thereby lowering your utility bill. When the energy the system produces exceeds your consumption demands, you can also feed this extra power back into the grid for additional credit toward your utility bills. This process, known as net metering, not only saves you more money in the long run, but studies have shown that these programs are positive for all ratepayers.

An unlimited source of renewable power

Another major advantage of solar energy is that it's ultimately a free power source once the system has been paid off. Better yet, not only is solar power free, it's an indefinitely renewable resource that doesn't require any drilling, mining or other dangerous extraction methods that can cause production problems and lead to energy cost fluctuations.

Compared to the volatility of natural gas prices, solar power provides a more stable and consistent source of energy for homeowners. Even utility-scale providers are jumping on the solar-energy bandwagon because of more enticing cost considerations. By 2021, power delivered from utility-scale solar plants will be less expensive than electricity produced by natural gas, according to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Boost property value

Not only do solar panels lower your utility bills, but they can also potentially increase your property value. A recent study by a member of the Appraisal Institute and released by the LBNL compared the sale of 43 houses across six different states and found that homes with solar systems sold at a higher premium than those without solar systems.

Out of sight, out of mind

Another solid advantage of solar power is that once you install the system on your roof, you can sit back and watch the savings roll in with very little maintenance. Solar panels are designed to be durable enough to withstand long-term exposure to the elements and continue generating energy for decades.

Further, there's a direct relationship between the size of your home, the amount of electricity you use and the number of solar panels that can fit on your roof. Smaller houses have lower energy needs so they don't need a big solar system. While larger homes, on the other hand, consume more energy, but they can also hold more panels on their roofs to generate more power.

Disadvantages of solar panels

The only real disadvantage of a rooftop solar system is that when diminished sunlight reaches your panels, such as at night or during significant cloud cover, you'll generate less energy. Additionally, snowfall, dust and other types of shading can potentially reduce the amount of sunlight hitting your modules, which can limit the amount of energy the system produces.

Thankfully, most people are typically sleeping when the sun is down, which reduces their energy needs. And most of the debris that may block the solar panel is relatively tiny and easy to clear off, making the overall impact minuscule.

Avoiding a common misconception

While the negatives of solar power might be few, there are a few common misconceptions that some end users might mistake as a disadvantage. For instance, there's an assumption that once a residential solar system is installed on a house, homeowners are free to use as much electricity as they want. However, this can actually lead to a higher utility bill!

It's important to maintain and even boost your home's energy efficiency to make sure you're maximizing the energy output from your rooftop solar system. This can include adding additional insulation, installing a smart home energy monitoring system or replacing old windows with energy-efficient ones.

Click here to learn about the advantages of solar energy.