By Jenna Smith
Although solar power still has the smallest market share among all energy providers in the United States – smaller even than biomass and geothermal – adaption of the technology has recently been rising by over 25% annually.
Businesses are increasingly putting solar panels on their roofs. Commercial investors are building sun farms in the Arizona desert. Municipalities are using solar power to generate electricity for streetlights, parking meters, and traffic signals.
And, of course, more and more people are retrofitting their homes with solar panels and trying to generate enough electricity so as to not rely on the electrical grid.
If you have neighbors with rooftop solar panels or if you have simply been researching the subject, you may be intrigued by the prospect of bringing the technology to your own home. As with anything, of course, there are some pros and cons to keep in mind before making such a substantial investment.
Here are a few of the key factors to consider:
Pros of Home Solar Power:
-Reduce reliance on coal. Most Americans who get their energy from the municipal grid are using coal power to generate their electricity and run their air conditioning. The installation of rooftop solar panels can reduce this dependence on a polluting, non-renewable resource in favor of the clean energy that solar provides.
-Have a backup power supply. Due to storms and poor connections, certain areas of the country have high incidences of power outages, especially during the summer. Such outages can be avoided when you have a backup generator that doesn’t connect to the grid.
-Potential to sell back energy at a profit. Some electricity providers will buy back excess energy produced by solar panels or any other sort of residential device. Of these, a good number will offer favorable buyback rates that allow homeowners to make a profit once they’ve broken even on their initial investment.
-Low maintenance costs. Unlike many other expensive projects that you may pursue, the costs of solar panels are almost entirely allocated up front. Once the installation process is complete, then, you don’t have to worry about expensive, time-consuming, or regular maintenance work.
Cons of Home Solar Power:
-High installation costs. Of course, the greatest downside of home solar power is its considerable cost. While the full cost of installation can fall below $10,000 if you are especially frivolous, such a small system would likely confer few of the benefits you seek in the first place. Most home solar systems consequently cost in the range of $30,000. This includes the cost of mounting hardware, inverters, installation and a Duro Last green roof, as well as the price of the panels themselves.
-Requires years to break even. If your home receives optimal sunlight and if you are able to sell back excess power, it still can take decades to break even on your investment. As such, if you’re looking to make a profit off of home generation, you’re going to want to settle down in a place where you plan to live for a very long time.
-Benefits depend substantially on climate. This goes without saying, but solar panels require one important factor in order to be effective: sunlight. People who live outside the Southwest are unlikely to insure sufficient power generation and storage to make the system work dependably.
These are the main pros and cons of installing panels and bringing solar power into your home. While the technology is highly promising and incredibly eco-friendly, it’s important to consider these factors – as well as your unique needs – before pursuing the issue further.
More On Green Living News from The Green Living Guy:
The Suburbs, Unplugged (NYPA/THINK Clean Commute Program)- NY Times
GE Technology and How It Will Help Integrate Electric Vehicles
Plus here are some of my books on this topic.