Many homeowners and business entrepreneurs are starting to install solar panels in their properties because having solar systems can reduce electric bills and supply sustainable energy. Not only these. The government and the states offer tax credits of up to 30% for a majority of homeowners and are available on utility-scale.
Solar panels are basically used to convert the solar energy coming from the sun into electricity. They are made from solar or photovoltaic cells and are used rural areas, residences, commercial establishments and government infrastructure. Also referred to as PV panels, the first solar panel was introduced in 1954 by Bell Laboratories. Today, these solar devices are used for personal and commercial applications. However, there are still advantages and disadvantages attributed to them.
List of Pros of Solar Panels
1. Gives Renewable Energy
Since the power that is stored in solar panels come from solar energy which is renewable, solar panels emit renewable energy that is available on a daily basis and practically all over the world. No matter if a person relocates in a remote area or be off the grid, so long as the sun shines and he or she has solar panels installed, there will be electricity supplied to his or her home. And according to scientists, the sun will continue to give out solar energy for at least 5 billion more years, making solar panels usable for a long time.
2. Different Applications
Solar panels have diversified uses in homes and commercial applications. They are used not only to supply electricity to homes but also to heat water and run solar powered cars. Since solar panels can be used to distill water in places where there is limitation on clean water access and supply electricity in places that are off the grid, they are considered diverse when it comes to applications. Solar panels as well as solar energy are being used even in building homes which expands the application of this energy source.
3. Lesser Energy Bills
One of the most practical and top advantages of solar panels is their capability to reduce energy consumption. By simply storing solar energy in solar panels, home owners need not use electricity sold commercially since they can use their appliances at night with the use of solar panels. Consequently, energy bills will be reduced. Of course, it is important to note that the savings in energy consumption depends on the size of solar panels. Also, aside from the reduction of energy usage, the homeowner also has the chance to get bonus payments if there is more electricity generation from the solar panels and lesser is used and the surplus will be sent to the grid. And by using energy stored in solar panels at peak times where electricity rates are high, more savings can be earned.
4. Technological Advancements
With the dynamics in technology and the continuous development and research, solar panels will become necessities of every household in the future. As time goes by, advancements in the technology and design of solar panels will be introduced and there is no way for the popularity of these renewable sources of energy to wane.
5. Maintenance Cost
With the warranty offered by solar panel distributors that can last for decades, maintenance costs of solar panels are at a minimum. Moreover, maintenance requirements of these panels are also not excessive. They only need to be cleaned regularly. As for parts, there are relatively no parts to be replaced except for the inverter that might need replacement between five to ten years. That said, there is less expectations when it comes to wear and tear.
List of Cons of Solar Panels
Despite the promise of electricity of solar panels, critics say that these are not reliable sources of energy or electricity supply since they cannot operate at a maximum under some weather conditions like storms, cloudy and rainy days. Since they are dependent on the light coming from the sun, it is not as reliable during rainy weather and in months when not enough solar energy coming from the sun is available. This is on top of the solar panels not able to store energy at night.
Homeowners who might want to use solar panels need to invest a fairly high amount of money not only for the purchase of these panels but also for installation. Money should be presented upfront and payments should be made for the inverter, batteries, panels and wiring. These expenses are costly. Moreover, if the homeowner chooses to install solar panels, conversion and remodeling of the house might be needed which can also be expensive.
Although using solar panels is associated to green living and the pollution they emit is not as much as chemicals and toxic wasted from other sources of energy such as coal and fossil, it is said that the installation and transportation of solar panels contribute to the emission of green gases in the atmosphere. Moreover, manufacturing of these solar panels make use of hazardous products and toxic materials.
4. Costs of Energy Storage
Apart from the expenses incurred for the acquisition and installation of solar panels, there is a need to store energy that will be used by the solar systems. If energy collected is not utilized right away, storing them in batteries is imperative. For these batteries to be operational in solar systems that are in remote areas with no commercial electricity, they need to be charged during the day. This process is expensive since large batteries need to be available especially if there is no electricity available during the night or the whole day.
5. Space Requirement
If a property or structure needs to get more electricity than usual, numerous solar panels should be installed and larger ones should be used. This number of solar systems can take a lot of space especially if the roof is not big enough to accommodate the panels. In order to solve the problem, there should be extra space for installation and this space should be accessible by sunlight.
Solar panels are practical in reducing electricity consumption but they can also be expensive to invest in. But despite contention, the weight of the benefits of using them as renewable energy sources has more bearing than the advantages.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.