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Solar Energy Pros and Cons: Is Going Solar Right for You?

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What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Energy?
Lourdes Balduque / Moment / Getty Images

As more and more homeowners make the switch to solar power, you may be considering putting panels on your own roof. But before you purchase a home solar system, you should consider the major solar energy pros and cons.

Of course, using the sun as an energy source can reduce your household's monthly electric bills and minimize your carbon footprint. However, making the switch to renewable energy isn't always the best choice for all homeowners. Let's take a closer look at the pros and cons of solar energy.


Pros and Cons of Solar Energy: What You Need to Know

By installing a home solar system, you can use solar panels to harness the sun's rays, convert them into electrical energy and use that energy to power your home. This can offset or even completely replace the energy you'd typically get from your utility company.

While the advantages of solar energy are plenty, there are also some drawbacks. Here are the top solar energy pros and cons to consider when deciding if solar panels are worth it for your home.

Benefits of Solar Energy

We'll begin with a summary of the main advantages of solar energy.

1) You can significantly reduce or even eliminate your household electric bills.

One of the most significant benefits of solar energy is also the most obvious: By harnessing energy from the sun, you can cut back your dependence on electric utility, which means you'll see a sharp drop off in your monthly electricity bills. In fact, the average solar system lasts for two to three decades, which means that your return on investment will pay for the system itself over time.

2) Going solar can reduce your carbon emissions.

Another one of the main advantages of solar energy is that it's a clean and renewable energy source. What this means is that you reduce your greenhouse gas emissions and decrease your environmental impact. While energy from coal and other fossil fuels tend to create a lot of environmental pollutants, solar energy does not produce any direct pollution at all, which makes it far and away the most environmentally friendly way to power your home.

3) Investing in a solar power system can increase the value of your home.

Solar homes are becoming considerably more appealing, and installing the best solar panels can bump an estate's resale value by a decent amount. Note that this helps offset one of the primary cons of solar energy, which is the steep startup cost of solar panels — but more on that later.

4) Going solar can make you eligible for rebates and tax incentives.

Over the past couple of decades, the federal government has implemented numerous plans to incentivize solar energy, including tax credits and rebates. Many state governments have followed suit, particularly those where sun exposure is most consistent. (North Carolina has actually been one of the leaders in this space.) Thanks to this, there are some significant ways to recoup part of your solar investment almost immediately. Again, this can help offset the initial cost of your solar panel system, allowing you to generate some savings even before those utility reductions begin to stack up.

Disadvantages of Solar Energy

There are obviously some significant benefits of solar energy, but it's only fair to outline some of the drawbacks, too. A few of the most notable disadvantages include:

1) Not every roof can accommodate a solar system.

Solar panel installation requires you to have a certain kind of roof. If you have an older home, especially one with slate or cedar tiles on the roof, then you may not be able to buy solar panels for your personal use. Additionally, homes with skylights and other rooftop features may not have the surface area needed for solar panels. If you don't have a lot of space or you're unsure about your home's solar capability, contact a local solar installer for a consultation. Most top solar companies will send out a representative free of charge.

2) Solar energy can be very location-dependent.

You may have a roof that's ideal for solar panel installation and still not be a good candidate for solar energy. Why? Because to take full advantage of solar energy, you need to live in a place that gets consistent sun exposure from day to day. So, if you live in a part of the country that tends to be pretty cloudy or grey, solar may be a non-starter. And if your roof is partly shielded by trees or by neighboring homes, you may not get the best mileage from a solar energy system.

3) Solar savings tend to correspond with energy bills.

If you have high energy bills, then going solar will probably give you significant savings. But the inverse is also true: If you live somewhere with low utility costs, then the savings from switching to solar energy are going to be more modest. In other words, there are some parts of the country where the financial advantages of solar energy are going to be pronounced, and other places where those financial advantages are going to be fairly inconsequential. It all depends on the cost of electricity where you live.

4) The upfront cost of going solar can be quite expensive.

According to some estimates, the average cost of a solar system investment is around $13,000, and for some homeowners, may exceed $20,000. The specific number will vary according to the size of your home, your household energy needs and the type of solar panels you choose. For example, if you make your own DIY solar panels, you'll cut down on installation costs, or if you want to get the most efficient solar panels, they'll cost significantly more.

There are plenty of ways to offset the cost, including tax incentives, utility savings, increased home value and financing options. Still, there's no getting around it: Making the switch to solar energy is always going to prove costly.

Free Quote: How Much Can You Save on Solar?

Cost is a major factor to consider when weighing the pros and cons of solar energy. Fill out the 30-second form below to get a free, no-obligation quote from a top solar company in your area to help you decide if solar is right for you. You could save up to $2,500 each year on your electric bills and receive both federal and state tax rebates.

Weighing the Solar Energy Pros and Cons

So, do the advantages of solar energy outweigh the disadvantages? Unfortunately, there's no easy answer here, as different homeowners may experience different levels of savings when they make the jump to solar.

Before investing in a system, make sure you do your due diligence. Research local sun exposure, tax incentives and your own household energy expenses. And, get quotes from a few solar providers that can give you more details about how much a new system will cost you. By weighing the pros and cons of solar energy, you can make the most advantageous decision for your household.

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