Pros and cons of solar energy

There are pros and cons of solar energy, just like any other form of energy. If you want to use solar power at home, only you can decide how the pros and cons of solar energy will weigh out for you. The pros of using solar energy in our homes include being environmentally friendly, long term money savings, independence from utility companies and that systems are very low maintenance. The cons of home solar energy include higher initial costs of installation, the system is highly dependent on weather and climate and large solar arrays detract from a home’s appearance.

Solar energy is a renewable resource – the only way to run out of this energy is for the sun to go out, in which case energy will not be an issue anymore. Solar energy doesn’t contribute to pollution as there are no emissions from generating solar power, unlike most other methods used to generate electricity. There isn’t any costs or dangers associated with transporting or storing fossil fuels or hazardous waste materials. Solar energy is truly an ever green source of clean, sustainable power.

After the initial cost of setting up a solar power system for your home, the electricity generation is essentially free for the life of the system. Since systems last for extraordinarily long times, you will be producing free electricity the entire time you own your home. You begin saving money on your utility costs immediately upon installation which helps recoup the initial costs. In some areas, there are tax incentives and/or rebates that can offset a large portion of the installation costs which can help decrease the payback period considerably.

A home solar power system can greatly reduce or eliminate your dependence on outside utility companies for your power needs. This is especially beneficial if you are located in an area that gets a lot of severe weather, thus interrupting the power on a regular basis. It also is excellent for those located in remote areas where running power lines would be very expensive and difficult.

Solar power systems require very little maintenance to provide many years of clean power generation. The photovoltaic (PV) panels are extremely durable and most manufacturers warranty them for twenty to thirty years. Since the system has few, if any, moving parts, there is very little of the wear and tear that you will get with traditional mechanical systems. Generally the only moving parts would be if your solar array makes use of tracking mounts to follow the sun.

Setting up a home solar power system does have higher costs associated with installation so can remain out of reach of the average income earner. As the demand rises for cleaner energy sources and new technologies continue to be developed, prices of solar energy systems will continue to decrease. Some of the newer technologies show promise as being price competitive with traditional power sources and could eliminate this as a disadvantage in the next few years.

Since solar power comes from energy produced by the sun, it is highly influenced by climate and weather patterns. Those in southern or western regions will recoup their costs faster and generate more electricity than those in other areas. Homes in northern climates will need larger solar arrays to produce the same amount of electrical power as well as to compensate from the more frequent inclement weather. It will be more difficult to gain complete independence from the grid if your home is located in less optimal regions.

The last major drawback to solar energy for most people is that they don’t like the look of bulky solar arrays on their rooftops. Advancing technologies is addressing that issue with the advent of solar roof shingles and tiles. The new shingles are installed like regular roofing materials but each one generates power for the home. While not able to replace the solar array completely yet, they do offer a way to keep the array less intrusive and therefore less noticeable.

One Response to “Pros and cons of solar energy”

  1. Gary Adams Says:

    My thought is, if white surfaces reflect the sun’s rays back into the universe and black surfaces absorb the radiation in the form of heat, it follows that solar panels would increase the planet’s surface temperature. Do you agree?

    What I am interested in is the relationship between energy production and “global warming.”

    Example: Lets assume an equal amount (X) of energy produced by solar cells and by a coal burning power plant. Which has a larger impact on surface temperatures?
    1)The power plant exhausts a certain amount of CO2 to produce (X) electricity which causes a certain amount (Ypp) of warming.
    2)The solar panels needed to produce (X) electricity absorb solar radiation in the form of heat causing a certain amount (Ys) of warming.

    Which is larger Ypp or Ys?

    Could you please let me know of any research done, or articles written, on the subject?

    Thank You,
    Gary Adams

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