Top 3 Pros and Cons of Solar Energy

ResidentialCalendarJanuary 4, 2018

Solar power is booming right now, and you may be wondering if it’s time for you to learn more. Because of its growing popularity, many homeowners in the U.S. are becoming increasingly aware of the pros and cons of rooftop solar systems, but there are still a lot of mixed messages floating around out there. We’re here to help. 

Here are the top 3 solar power pros and cons:

PRO: Potential Savings On Electricity Bills

Depending on where you live and how much energy you use, a rooftop solar system may save you money on your electricity bills. For homeowners in areas with especially high electricity rates (such as California, New Jersey, and Hawaii) these savings can add up, especially over time. So don’t think of rooftop solar as an expensive luxury, but rather think of it as a sensible investment.

Rooftop solar systems are now more affordable than ever, largely due to a dramatic drop in the price of solar panels over the past several years (decreased by 70% since 2010). As a result, solar power companies are able to offer solar systems that are within reach for many American homeowners. Gone are the days that an investment in solar is too expensive for the average family. Better still, low-cost loans and Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) make it possible to obtain the benefits of a solar energy system for little to no up-front cost for those who qualify. 

Depending on where you live, you may also be eligible for something known as net metering, an arrangement wherein your utility will actually pay you (in cash or energy credits) for excess power your solar system sends back to the grid.

CON: Not Every Roof Works For Solar

While we wish everyone could make an investment and have some solar panels on their roof, the reality is that not all roofs are a good fit for solar power. Some roofs are surrounded by trees that provide too much shading (We love trees, but sometimes they get in the way of the sun.), other roofs are oriented in a direction or angle that makes it impossible to get sunlight for more than a couple of hours, and some roofs have obstructions like pipes or chimneys that sometimes happen to be in all the wrong places. If your roof is in need of maintenance or replacement, a good solar installer will recommend you take care of that first as well. As you can see, there are many factors to evaluate when determining a roof’s suitability for solar.

So how do you know if your roof is a good fit for solar? Google’s Project Sunroof is a great place to start. You can use Project Sunroof to assess suitability. Beyond that, the best option is to invite a qualified solar consultant to look at your roof. If you want to dive into the details of what makes a roof an ideal fit for solar, we take a deeper dive here

PRO:  Do Something Good For the Environment

Solar panels and solar energy systems have long been the poster children of sustainability. We get that not everyone is equally concerned with reducing their carbon footprint, but there are other environmental benefits of switching to solar power that are often understated. For example, certain areas of the country are prone to smog and inversions that can have a negative effect on air quality. By switching to clean solar power, you are taking steps to do something impactful on your local community. Home batteries and electric vehicles take that even a step further.

Solar energy gives us cleaner air, healthier environments, and allows us to feel good about what we are doing to make our little slice of the world better. 

CON: Installing A Solar System Can Take A While 

Say you decide to go solar and you are excited to get them installed straightaway. While we’d love to tell you that your solar panels could be up and running the next day, that is very unlikely. The process of interconnecting a solar system to the grid and installing the panels on your home can take more time than you might expect, and here’s why.

Anything requiring a relationship with a utility requires paperwork. After a solar system is installed, permits have to be submitted and city inspections have to occur to make sure everything is up to code before your system can be switched on. This timeline is outside of the solar company’s control. This may sound like a major inconvenience, but the best part is that you don’t have to do much. Most solar power companies do all of the heavy lifting for you and will take care of most of the paperwork. Just know that some cities may work faster than others, so don’t be surprised if you’re on the waitlist for several weeks or, in some cases, months. Solar power can take time, but it is well worth the benefits you’ll receive once your system is installed and turned on. Plus, all of the extra work behind the scenes is only to make sure you have a safe and functional energy system on your home. 

PRO: More Energy Independence and Choice

By having a solar system, you get to choose where your energy comes from. It’s like having your very own power plant on your roof. Only yours doesn’t run on fossil fuels. Thanks to solar, you don’t have to feel like you’re solely at the mercy of your utility company. If you want to pay less money for your power and get away from increasingly expensive utility rates, you can! Like we said, solar is now more affordable than ever, which means you have more options to choose from when it comes to your home energy needs.

This is even more true for homeowners who add home storage and electric vehicles into the mix. Some home batteries allow you to store energy gathered from your solar panels during the day that can be drawn on throughout the night, giving you even more energy independence. Home batteries can also provide power during emergencies. 

CON: Long-term Proposition 

In a world that switches the channel practically every 30 seconds, it’s hard to imagine making a long-term commitment to a solar system that will be on your roof for decades. Depending on how you finance your solar system, you may be required to sign a solar agreement that spans decades. But think of it this way -- when you buy solar panels, you lock in your savings for the long-term, protecting yourself from rising utility rates. Who wouldn’t want to save money on their utility bills for years to come? 

Of course, it’s still a big commitment. That’s why it’s important to work with the right solar company, one with a proven track record that will be able to service your system and provide needed maintenance over its lifetime.

Now that you know some solar power pros and cons, you can sort through some of the misinformation floating around about rooftop solar energy. If you have questions or concerns regarding solar, you can always learn more by contacting a solar provider. Contact us today to get a free estimate and learn if solar is right for you.

How to Go Solar

Vivint Solar makes renewable energy a simple and affordable alternative. We take care of everything from solar system design, to paperwork and permitting, to installation and maintenance.

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