Solar Energy Home Use: Pros and Cons

Solar energy is generated from the heat of the sun which is converted using a range of modern technologies including solar heating and photovoltaics.  According to seia.org, solar energy is the most abundant source of renewable energy these days.  Despite its demand, it has been a subject for debates and criticisms because of its inefficiency and high cost.  However, the constant increase in electricity prices propelled its usage and adoption, especially in many households.  Most homeowners are looking for long-term solutions that are more sustainable rather than using generators, which is why they are switching to solar energy.

 

Let's take a look at some of the pros and cons of adopting solar energy for home use.

 

Pros of solar energy

1. Renewable

As mentioned earlier, solar energy is the most abundant source of renewable energy.  This means that we cannot run out of solar energy unlike the other energy sources such as coal and nuclear.  We have an abundant supply of solar energy which will last as long as the sun is alive.

2. Sustainable

Based on an article posted by Mathias Arre Maehlum at energyinformative.org (http://energyinformative.org/solar-energy-pros-and-cons/), solar energy is an energy source that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising its availability for the needs of the future generation that is considered sustainable.  Therefore, solar energy is considered sustainable because we cannot over-consume its supply.  Despite the increasing usage of solar energy in homes, it will still be available for the next generation.

3. Environment-Friendly

Generally, the use of solar energy does not contribute to pollution.  Solar energy has been used as an alternative for non-renewable resources which greatly contribute to the continuous increase of problems related to pollution.  Through this, our dependence on non-renewable resources has been reduced which is a big step towards fighting climate change and other climate crisis.

4. Reduces the cost of electricity

Homeowners can significantly reduce electricity costs by switching to solar energy.  As what Mathias Arre Maehlum said, the installation of solar panels in homes can bring in an average monthly savings of 100 dollars per home in most U.S. states.  Since some of your energy needs will be covered by your solar system, your monthly electricity bill will drop.  Your monthly savings can further increase if you opt to sell excess electricity during the day, which is the peak of energy use.

5. Low Maintenance

Most solar panels do not require a lot of maintenance and cleaning.  Aside from that, majority of solar panel manufacturers offer 20 to 25 years of warranty which can be availed by homeowners whenever they encounter issues with the product.  However, do be sure to get your panels cleaned (I believe once a year is ideal).

Cons of solar energy

1. Intermittent energy source

Solar energy is considered as an intermittent source of energy because of its limited access.  Access to solar energy is not possible during early morning and night which makes the prediction of overcast days more difficult.  Its limited access is the main reason why solar energy is not considered as the first option for energy source because it cannot meet the required energy load demand of the homeowners.

2. Needs a lot of space

Solar panels need space to generate enough power density.  If you want to produce more electricity, you need more solar panels to collect sunlight.  More solar panels require more space and some roofs are not big enough for it.  Based on various data gatherings, most homeowners are unfit for the installation of solar panels on their rooftops due to insufficient space.  Some homeowners install solar panels in their yards that have access to sunlight while others opt to install fewer solar panels to meet some of their energy needs.   If you live in a unit or shared complex, then the opportunity may not even be available.

3. Doesn’t always reduce your bill

There are some homeowners who spend good money on a solar system, only to be horrified that their electricity bill has not decreased (or not by much).   Your installer will not provide you with guarantees, so there is a risk that for whatever reason it does not work.    Having said this, most people have a positive outcome, but alerting you that not everyone does AND there are no guarantees.   Also be sure to do your comparison with a full period, not just the first period in solar which might be half solar and half non-solar.   Finally, absolutely ensure the installer has ‘turned’ on the system.   You don’t want to go several months with no results only to discover, the connection wasn’t completed.

4. Associated with the increasing problems on pollution

Although the use of solar energy does not contribute to pollution but the installation of its systems does.  Based on the article "Pros and Cons of Solar Energy" posted at greenmatch.co.uk (https://www.greenmatch.co.uk/blog/2014/08/5-advantages-and-5-disadvantages-of-solar-energy), solar system installation is associated with greenhouse gas emissions which contribute to pollution.  Moreover, the manufacturing process for solar systems like photovoltaics and solar panels use hazardous substances which can directly affect the environment.  However, despite its contribution to pollution, solar energy is considered a minor source of pollution compared to the other sources of energy.  In fact, solar energy is nicknamed as the cleanest source of renewable energy.

5. Dependent to weather

Generally, weather affects the gathering of solar energy.  The efficiency of solar system is reduced during cloudy and rainy days because solar panels and other systems are dependent on sunlight.  Aside from that, these systems cannot generate energy at night.  So, a few rainy days can have a very noticeable effect on the production of the solar energy system.

Overall, solar energy has been a trending topic when it comes to renewable energy source.  It became beneficial to the environment as well as in financial aspects.  Technologies related to solar energy systems are continuously improving to meet the increasing demand of solar energy.  With continuous improvement, solar can be the main source of renewable energy in future generations. This is to say then that solar energy is of utmost benefit to households, the environment, and the whole community.  My last message is to do your due diligence before selecting a solar company to work with.   Read their documentation and fine print and get 3 quotes so you are doing a good comparison.   All solar companies (and the products that they use) are not the same.

DSE Electrical is a Brisbane-based (Redlands) electrical contracting business.   We don’t actually provide solar services, but in the course of my electrical work, I am regularly asked about solar and whether it works or not … hence thought I’d put this article up on my website.    Hope it’s been  helpful to you.

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