Earth receives a daily influx of free energy, accessible to anyone equipped with the right technology, which is increasingly available as mass-produced solar panels become more affordable.
In the face of the climate crisis and escalating energy costs, solar energy systems offer a means to diminish your carbon footprint.
Despite requiring a significant initial investment, numerous incentives exist to alleviate the upfront costs, though the transition to solar remains a complex process.
Opting for solar is a substantial decision necessitating thorough research and due diligence, and to aid in this endeavor, we’ve compiled a breakdown of the pros and cons of solar panels.
In this guide, you will know what each means for your wallet and carbon footprint.
Pros of Solar Panel
Solar panels employ photovoltaic cells to capture solar radiation and transform it into electricity.
They serve as an eco-friendly energy source, aiding in reducing carbon emissions, with the environmental advantage being just one of the myriad benefits.
Reduced Electric Bills
Transitioning to solar allows residential users to witness notable savings on their energy expenses.
As per the Consumer Price Index, electricity rates rose by 5.4% for the 12-month period concluding in June.
Depending on its capacity and your energy demands, a solar panel system could significantly lower or even nullify your electric bill.
Enhanced Energy Independence
Residential solar setups enable a reduced dependency on the grid.
Incorporating solar batteries could potentially render your home self-sufficient, detaching from the electric grid.
These batteries reserve energy generated during sunny intervals for utilization during night-time or overcast days.
The choice between an off-grid or grid-tied system hinges on your individual energy objectives.
A solar arrangement with a battery can sustain power in your home amid outages or blackouts, adding a layer of stability and adaptability to your grid-sourced electricity.
Greener Energy Source
By fitting solar panels on your residence, you augment the quantum of clean, carbon-neutral energy production.
Although solar panel manufacturing entails some greenhouse gas emissions, the lifetime emissions are considerably lower compared to fossil fuel counterparts like coal.
The EPA states that the electric power sector accounts for about 25% of all greenhouse gas emissions nationwide.
Employing renewable energy contributes to the reduction of fossil fuel usage and its detrimental emissions.
Elevated Property Value
Solar panel installation typically increases your home’s value.
As per the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, solar panels can append roughly $15,000 to your home’s value and expedite its sale compared to non-solar homes.
Reduce Solar Panel Costs
The cost-efficiency of solar panels has markedly progressed over the past decade.
Advancements in solar technology enhance the return on investment and long-term savings.
Federal solar incentives, along with state-level incentives (where available), render solar panel systems more economically accessible.
Extended Federal Tax Credit
In 2022, the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act by Congress escalated the solar investment tax credit to 30%, extending it till 2032, with a phase-out by 2035.
This federal residential clean energy credit encompasses 30% of the total installation cost of a solar panel system.
Net Metering and Accelerated Payback Period
An enticing aspect is the acceleration of your payback period—the duration to recoup your initial outlay—via net metering.
This mechanism permits the sale of your surplus energy back to your utility firm.
However, net metering isn’t universal, so it’s vital to consult with your utility provider.
Cons of Solar Panel
Every significant purchase comes with its downsides, with the cost usually being the foremost.
Solar Panels Carry a Hefty Price Tag
The cost of residential solar panels fluctuates based on size, installer, and location, though the national median stands at $3.80 per watt as per the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
For a median-sized 7-kilowatt system, this translates to a total installation cost of $26,600.
Over the past ten years, solar panel costs have seen a notable reduction, and the federal tax credit shaves off an additional 30%.
While some states extend extra incentives and rebates, the financial burden of solar installations remains a hurdle for many.
Extended Payback Duration
A critical aspect of the purchasing decision is grasping the time frame within which the solar panels recoup their cost.
The average payback period of solar panels in the US ranges between six to ten years; however, based on your energy costs, electricity usage, and available incentives, it might extend further.
It’s prudent to compute your solar payback period prior to purchase, especially if long-term savings are your goal.
A seven-year recoup period may result in losses if you relocate or sell your residence before then.
Not All Conditions Are Favorable
Factors like sunlight availability, space limitations, and installation challenges can escalate costs.
Necessary tree trimming or roof repairs add to the expenses and the angle, pitch, and orientation of your roof impact solar panel efficiency.
Homes with well-shaded roofs or north-facing ones may not be suitable.
Potential Uptick in Property Taxes
Property taxes are calculated based on property-assessed values, and solar installations elevate these values.
Typically, a higher home value translates to higher property taxes, though some states exempt solar-equipped homes from the additional tax.
Homeowners Insurance Policies
Some insurance policies cover solar panels, while others don’t.
It’s advisable to consult with your insurance provider or search for a new one that covers solar installations.
Insurance premiums might increase to accommodate solar panel coverage.
The 30% federal tax credit is universally accessible, but state-level incentives vary.
On the flip side, states like Rhode Island, Maryland, and California provide more generous incentives including net metering, property tax exemptions, and grants like Maryland’s Low Income Solar Grant Program.
Solar Storage Adds to the Expense
To store solar-generated energy for nighttime use, solar batteries are indispensable but costly.
Their addition could potentially double the solar system’s total cost.
Environmental Footprint of Solar Panels
The manufacture of solar panel components has environmental repercussions, making the “energy payback” timeline a consideration.
Yet, in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, solar panels recoup their environmental cost within one to four years of operation, as reported by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
Solar panels usually remain with the property upon sale.
If you plan to move or sell before the payback period concludes, you might not see a return on your investment, although solar panels have been noted to boost property values.
Should I Get Solar Panels?
Solar panels, akin to investments growing with interest, accumulate value over time by generating electricity with each sunrise, which occurs with high reliability.
Although influenced by local energy prices, sunlight availability, and personal energy consumption, a common estimate suggests solar systems recoup their cost in about a decade, followed by potentially two more decades of free energy.
However, it’s advisable to calculate your specific payback period.
The upfront cost of solar installation may deter some, prompting contemplation on the optimal timing for transitioning to solar.