5 Advantages of Solar Energy (and 3 Disadvantages)

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There are some definite advantages of solar energy as well as some disadvantages. Having a home that is powered by solar energy, or having a solar panel on the roof of your house can be very beneficial for you and the environment.

5 top advantages of using solar energy 

1.  The cheapest energy source overall 

After the initial investment of the equipment, solar energy is cheaper in the long run because it does not require any fuel to produce.

In fact, solar energy is the cheapest form of energy in history

When you use solar energy, there are no monthly payments or yearly fees – your only cost is purchasing the equipment and installation. 

When compared to other forms of energy, the cost of energy from solar panels is almost free in the long run. This means that solar energy can be a great choice, especially if you intend to live in your home for an extended period of time.

Amid increasing energy bills, solar energy can be a great – and accessible – source of cost-effective energy for many homes and businesses. 

2.  An environmentally-friendly energy source

One of the biggest benefits of making the switch to solar energy is that it is a vastly more environmentally friendly option than electricity sourced from fossil fuels. 

Solar power does not contribute greenhouse gasses to the environment, which helps to prevent further climate change due to the enhanced greenhouse effect. 

According to National Geographic, carbon dioxide levels are now at their highest, and the planet’s lack of gas balance continues to threaten survival. CO2 levels have risen to 414.8 ppm as a result of human activities such as the combustion of fossil fuels.

Using solar panels can help in the fight against climate change by lowering carbon dioxide emissions. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, when you produce 1000 kWh of electricity using solar panels, you can reduce emissions by more than 1,400 pounds of carbon dioxide.

Finally, solar energy extends the life of our planet’s limited resources, such as coal and gas, by making use of renewable sources of energy – such as the sun – instead.  

The bottom line is that solar energy helps to reduce our reliance on nonrenewable energy sources such as fossil fuels, which is an undeniable win for the planet!

3.  Tax incentives available annually 

When you have solar panels installed on your house, you can take advantage of many tax incentives available from the government. 

In some cases, the federal government will give you up to 26% of your total purchase price back, which can be a great deal.

The Investment Tax Credit (ITC) or federal solar tax credit allows homeowners to deduct 26% of the cost of installing a solar system from their federal taxes. 

Originally, the ITC was set to expire at the end of 2007, but due to its popularity and success, the US Congress extended the expiration date several times. It was recently extended in December 2020 for two additional years. 

As long as you have a solar energy stem, you are eligible for the solar ITC. Additionally, even if you don’t have enough tax liability claims in one year, you can “roll over” the remaining credits into the future years as long as the tax credit is in effect. 

The coverage of tax credit covers the following: 

  • The cost of solar panels
  • Labor costs for installation (including permitting fees, inspection, and developer fees)
  • Additional solar equipment
  • Home batteries charged by your equipment
  • Sales taxes on eligible expenses

You can claim your ITC every year when you file your yearly federal tax return. 

4.  Government grants to help you fund your solar panel

Some governments are also willing to provide money to people who want to install solar panels on their homes or properties through government grants.

Although there aren’t any typical residential solar energy grants directly given at the federal level, various departments provide grants to low-income and rural areas, such as tribes, schools, farms, and non-profit organizations. According to letsgosolar.com, government grants offer cost-saving measures to those that need them the most. 

The best place to find these grants is through the US Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. 

For example, homeowners in low-income areas can apply for grants from the Affordable Housing Preservation Program, which is part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, to install and maintain solar panel systems and alternative energy sources. The Housing Recovery Act distributes the funds through a $250 million budget.

Tribes, on the other hand, can apply for assistance in implementing energy efficiency measures through the DOE’s Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs. 

The United States Department of Agriculture also helps farmers and small rural businesses to obtain and install renewable energy systems.

5.  Enjoy clean and fresh air, free of pollutants

Unlike the burning of fossil fuels for energy, solar energy comes with the added benefit of access to fresh and clean air. 

This helps to avoid air pollution that damages the environment and causes respiratory problems and illnesses.  

Solar energy not only emits far less pollution than traditional energy sources, but it can also help prevent stagnation events. These are stale, hot air pockets that trap pollutants and lock them into the lower atmosphere. 

Overall, solar energy can provide a healthier, more environmentally conscious, and cost-effective energy source. 

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The disadvantages of solar energy

1.  Costly upfront investment

The initial investment to install a solar panel on your home can be relatively high, and this might not be the best option for everyone. 

Government incentives can help you offset some of those costs. However, if you plan on moving home soon, then the investment may not pay off before you move and you might want to consider a different type of renewable energy source. 

According to the Center for Sustainable Energy, the average installation and system costs for solar energy systems range between $15,000 and $25,000. However, other important factors, such as location, influence the upfront costs. 

Today, location is a significant factor in determining the cost of solar systems. 

Your home’s orientation toward the sun, the amount of share, and the type of roof you have must all be considered because they can all affect the output of your solar system.

Another consideration is your current electric bill. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s year-to-date 2021 data, the national average is 13 cents per kilowatt-hour.

As a result, it’s a good idea to learn how your electric bill, location, and incentives affect your monthly budget over time.

Payment plans can help you save money on upfront installation costs. A payment plan is a type of financing that offers various deals, such as no money down, and allows you to pay for your panels over time.

7.  Solar energy is not available all the time

Another disadvantage is that solar energy isn’t always available, depending on where you live and the cloud cover in your area. 

There are ways to manage this by using battery packs, but they may not be able to power everything in your home in the same way that electricity from the grid can. You might also need to make some modifications to your home, including installing a connector or new wiring.

If your home or property receives little sunlight, you will need to make some changes before you even consider installing a solar panel. You must understand whether or not there is enough sunlight for panels to provide the power that you desire and require at all times.

8.  Intermittent source of power

The final disadvantage is that solar power is an intermittent source of power – it can provide energy at certain times and less at others depending on the weather conditions. 

To be entirely off the grid, you’ll need to have storage batteries along with the solar panels to save energy when you’re not getting it from the sun.

Intermittent renewables are complicated since they challenge the conventional grid planning methods. Their energy varies over many time horizons, necessitating a change in the grid operator’s day-ahead, hour-ahead, and real-time operating procedures.

Solar energy is only available during daylight hours, thus the grid operator must modify the day-ahead plan to incorporate generators that can rapidly adjust their output in response to changes in solar production.

On that note, this remains a solvable issue. Despite the intermittent power source, there are solutions to ensure you get enough power during the night by using battery packs and making a few modifications on your property. 

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Recommended Pages:
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Renewable Energy
How to Find Affordable Power That’s Also Sustainable
How Are Solar Panels Made? And How Do They Work?

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