8 Common Misconceptions About Solar Power

Anastasia KravchukMay 5, 2017 5542 1

Common misconceptions about solar power

In recent years, solar energy has made the leap from being a luxury trend, to the new normal for energy consumers, competing with traditional utility companies. Though many are jumping on the solar express, others are hesitating because they have been told that going solar is not as good/affordable/easy as those nagging solar salesmen make it out to be.


1. I won’t save money because the cost of solar is expensive.

Not only has the cost of solar gone down tremendously over the years, the potential savings that are possible with solar energy have risen as well. In most cities in the United States, financing a solar panel system actually costs much less than purchasing electricity from a local utility company.

There are many financing options available for people who do not want to purchase their solar system outright with cash, allowing families to save money before they even pay off the cost of solar panels. With the combination of yearly savings on your electric bill, as well as government tax breaks and other incentives that cover 30% of the initial costs, solar panel installation is not only affordable, it is a great financial investment.


2. Solar panels will not work for me because I live in a rainy/cloudy/snowy area.

Because solar panels are very popular in states like California, Arizona, and Colorado, many people think that to benefit from solar power, they need to live in a sunny location. Though it is true that solar panels will produce less electricity on a cloudy day than on a sunny day, indirect sunlight scattered by the clouds will still be able to reach your panels. Consider the fact that Germany, which is cloudy half of the year is the solar energy capital of the world.

Rain or snow? You can think of wet days as a blessing in disguise because rain rids your solar panels of all that dust and debris, saving you a cleaning job. In snowy climates, solar panels are usually installed at an angle, allowing the snow to slide off the panels

Contrary to popular belief, most solar panels actually work best in cold conditions. Conductivity increases in cold temperatures, while any temperature over 91 degrees actually decreases the efficiency of solar panels. So, as solar panels heat up, they produce less power, which means that the most optimal climate for solar both cold and sunny.


3. Solar power systems require too much maintenance.

Since a solar panel system has no moving parts, only minimal maintenance is required. The only upkeep required is brushing off debris and dirt a few times a year, and an occasional surface cleaning with a damp sponge or cloth. If there are no trees around, some people just rely on those beautiful rainy days to give their solar panels a spray down. If you don’t want to climb up on your roof to check on the panels a couple times a year, there are plenty of affordable professional solar cleaning services that can ensure your solar equipment stays dirt-free.


4. A “no money down” arrangement is the best option for financing solar.

Solar leases and PPAs (third-party-owned systems) skyrocketed in popularity several years ago, but may not be the best option. These arrangements allow homeowners to install a solar system on their home without actually paying for the solar equipment. Though homeowners can go solar with no money down, such agreements lock people into monthly payments and prevent them from taking advantage of the free electricity on their roof, as they continue to pay the solar company throughout the life of the system. In addition, only those who actually buy their solar power system are entitled to the 30% federal tax credit

There is no question that it is better to avoid 3rd party ownership if possible, and to buy your own solar system outright. With the increasingly lower cost of solar equipment, more and more families can afford to buy their own solar panel system with cash, letting them save a lot more money in the long run. If you truly cannot afford the upfront purchase, a solar loan is the next best option, and will still save you a lot more money than a 3rd party leasing agreement.


5. Solar panels cause roof damage.

While the idea of drilling multiple holes into their brand new roof is enough to make many people cringe, it should not be a cause for concern. Of course, there is no way going solar would make sense if it left you with puddles in your attic, so installers are very careful with rooftop sealing procedures.

Solar modules are held in place with bolts that are then sealed with metal flashing to weather-proof the roof completely. This flashing equipment is similar to the flashing that is commonly used for windows, chimneys, and other installations, and is likely already in use somewhere in your home at this time. Ground-mounted arrays are also available for people who would prefer this option and have enough yard space to make it work.


6. Solar panels are not efficient.

Solar efficiency is calculated by the percentage of light hitting the panel that ends up as electricity. So a panel with 50% efficiency is able to change half the sunlight that hits the panel to electrical power. Though it is true that there are no solar panels that are 100% efficient, keep in mind that it is not efficiency but productivity of panels that is important. In other words, it would not matter if your solar panel was able to collect all the sunlight in the world, if it could not store it or generate electricity to power your home.

While solar manufacturers are continuously working to improve the efficiency of solar panels, solar technology has been established within pretty much the same standards since the 1960s. It is unlikely that efficiency will significantly change in the future, so waiting to install more efficient panels will only result in savings lost through high electric bills.


7. I can just find the cheapest solar panels online myself.

As the U.S. solar market is being flooded with cheaper, foreign-manufactured solar equipment, the quality control is not always guaranteed. While you do not need most of the middle men in the solar industry, it is still important to find a solar installer or other professional who understands the solar market and can help navigate the flood of conflicting online information about materials, quality, pricing, and warranties of solar products. Do not underestimate the importance of quote comparison, company reputation, and quality installation so you can enjoy 30 years of hassle free solar panel use without constant annoying problems.


8. Solar panels make my house ugly and undesirable when I sell.

When it comes to solar, beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. If you can look at your panels and see dollar signs and financial freedom, then your solar panels will be very pretty. If you still just cannot fathom covering your new roof with panels, you can look into placing them on an inconspicuous side of your home, hidden from view.

Because solar panel installations have been consistently proven to raise a property’s resale value means that buyers view solar panel systems in a positive light - as upgrades. In fact, home buyers have been willing to pay an extra cost of about $15,000 for a home with an installed solar PV system. Even if you do not see beauty in solar panels on your roof, your future home buyers definitely will.

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