Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Energy

The desire to embrace a greener lifestyle and reduce dependence on non-renewable sources of energy has led many people to consider switching or supplementing their home with solar energy. If you are planning to make the switch to solar power in your home, one of the first things you need to do is consider both the advantages and disadvantages of solar energy.

Advantages of Solar Energy

1. Free energy. You have to pay your electric bill every month. Most likely, you are also paying for oil or natural gas to heat your home. After your initial installation and any future maintenance costs, solar energy is completely free. Depending upon the type of system you have installed, you can use it as a power source for most or even all of your home’s energy needs.

2. Completely renewable. Unlike fossil fuels such as oil, solar energy is a renewable source of energy. Even though it cannot be produced on cloudy days or during the nighttime, as long as the sun continues to shine, this energy will be produced. Eventually, the fossil fuel supply will run dry, which will lead to increased prices as shortages occur.

3. Good for the environment. Solar energy does not produce greenhouse gasses that destroy the ozone layer in the Earth’s atmosphere as burning fossil fuels do. The emissions produced from fossil fuels produce air pollution and by-products that are destructive to the environment.

4. Long lasting and low maintenance. The life expectancy of solar panels can be up to 40 years. Most come with a manufacturer’s warranty of at least 25 years. Most oil or natural gas furnaces last only 15 years. Solar panels require very little maintenance throughout their lifespan because there are no moving parts. They also do not produce any noise or offensive odors. Improvements in solar technology will only help to continue the development of better equipment in the future.

5. Easy installation. The installation of solar panels and any additional equipment is usually easy to install, unlike other renewable sources of energy such as geothermal or wind power stations. There is no need for cords, wires, or power sources. In most cases, the solar panels can be installed on existing rooftops and will not take up any new space.

Disadvantages of Solar Energy

1. Initial investment. When comparing the advantages and disadvantages of solar energy, the subject of initial cost always comes up. There are many ways to decrease your costs by taking advantage of tax initiatives, rebates and subsidy programs from the government or utility companies. After your initial investment, your only costs are for any uncovered maintenance or repairs that may be needed in the future. For systems that are tied into the power grid, you may receive compensation for excess energy that you supply back to the electric company.

2. Location of home. The ideal location for solar panels is on a south facing roof in order to benefit most from the sun’s exposure. Surrounding trees or other homes that block the exposure to your roof will reduce the amount of sunlight that reaches the solar panels. While your own trees can be trimmed or removed, you may encounter obstacles if the offending trees are on neighboring properties.

3. Dependence on weather. You will not receive much benefit from your solar panels on cloudy or stormy days. The same holds true for the nighttime. You will need either to remain connected to your power company’s power grid or choose to install a battery system to store energy that can be used when the sun is not shining.

As you can see, when comparing the advantages and disadvantages of solar energy, the advantages clearly outweigh the disadvantages. Many of these disadvantages can be overcome through designing and implementing your solar energy system with the help of an experienced professional.

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