Top solar myths debunked

Bringing solar into your home can be a big step.  Lots of homeowners have questions about how it works, and there are some myths floating around about residential solar that we’d like to address directly.

Here are the top solar myths debunked:

1. Solar will ruin my roof

People worry about their roofs when considering installing solar panels: mounting panels on your roof is complicated.   And the ugly truth is, you can find an installer who doesn’t do a top quality job, much as you can for any home renovation.  This is why you should choose reputable solar professionals to handle theinstallation process to ensure the quality of your solar system and the stability of your roof.  Once properly installed, solar panels can actually benefit the longevity of your roof because they absorb some of the wear and tear over the years.


2. Solar power is way too expensive for me

Solar has never been more affordable.  The typical home or business owner will pay about 60% less than just a year ago.  Solar panel prices have decreased substantially, and federal energy tax credits and solar power rebates have increased.  Plus, with the right financing or lease program, solar energy can be accessible to almost every homeowner for little or no upfront cost.  With power purchase agreements or solar lease, you avoid paying the upfront costs of purchasing a solar system.  

Another way to think about solar power is to compare its’ cost to your current cost with a traditional utility.  You’ll enjoy a $0 or very low power bill for the 25 or 30 year life of the solar system. For example, if you spend $200 per month for electricity with a utility, then you will spend $81,979 over 25 years. No matter how you calculate it, you will save money with a $5,000 to $25,000 solar panel system. Forget the confusing and distracting cost per kilo-watt (kW) comparisons. Remember, you can pay the utility for 25 years, with annual price increases, or you can pay a lot less for solar power. You’ll also get some great tax credits and cash rebates, and you will increase the value of your home.


3. Solar means I have to go off the grid or have batteries

Owning a solar energy system does not mean that you have to go off the grid; most people who use solar electricity in their homes actually stay tied to their utility grid. By staying tied to the grid, your panels contribute electricity during the day, and draw it back at night or on a stormy day.  Not tying your panels to the grid means you have to store your electricity in batteries, and a very small number of solar homes choose this option.


4. Solar won’t work in cold climates

A common misconception is that solar panels only function in warm climates with abundant sunshine.  However, solar panels produce electricity wherever the sun shines, whether the area is as sunny as Sacramento, CA or as cloudy as Trenton, NJ.  In fact, Germany has one of the largest solar markets in the world and is about as sunny as Seattle.  While sunny areas will generate more power than cloudy areas, solar works almost anywhere and its financial and environmental benefits transcend climatic boundaries.

Furthermore, solar electricity panels, like many electronics, work better in colder temperatures.  If you’re worried about snowfall burying your panels, let gravity ease your fears. Your solar panels are slanted and the tilt will allow much of the snow to slideoff.  In addition, the dark panels attract and absorb sunlight, lending for a faster melting process (a good sweep of your panels won’t hurt, either). The snow will also reflect sunlight and send additional light to your roof. You can even have solar if you live in a cold and snowy place.


5. I should wait for solar since technology is improving

People often think that they should wait for solar because solar panel technology is constantly improving and they want the most up-to-date version.  But, solar panels are not the same as computers or smartphones – solar panel technology is already mature, hasn’t changed much in recent years, and won’t do so dramatically in the future.  Thin-film solar panels, which you may have heard about in recent news, are less efficient than normal solar panels and are more practical for large-scale commercial installations, rather than homes. The current solar technology is tested, proven, and ready to power your home.

Waiting for solar can also hurt you in the long run.  While panel prices may be dropping over time, state and federal rebates are going fast – the longer you wait, you could actually end up paying more for solar.  Residential electricity prices from your utility are rising every year.  The sooner you look toward solar, the sooner you can lock in a low fixed rate for your electricity.


6. Solar means I’m tied to my house for the next 20 years


No, installing a homesolar system does not mean that you are tied to your house for the next two decades.  Some Americans worry that if they move, they will never be ableto recoup their investment on a solar system.  Instead, installing solar in your home will raise its property value – a study by ICF Consulting cites that$1/year on energy savings adds $20 to your home’s value ($1,000/year in savings will increase your home value by $20,000!).


7. My roof needs to be enormous inorder to support enough panels to power my home.

While your electricity output does depend on the size of your system, a smaller system will still generate enough electricity to offset of your utility bill.  For a solar electricity system to be viable, your roof can be as small as 200 square feet!  Every kilowatt of clean energy generated by your roof will be one less kilowatt of electricity pulled from the grid for which you have to pay your utility.

We hope this helps you to make the right decision regarding solar for your home.  Getting clean, renewable energyis truly one of the best things you can do this year for both the environmentand your utility bill.  

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