6 Solar Power Advantages You Should Know (Plus 2 Big Disadvantages)

You’ve probably heard about the solar power advantages you will enjoy when you install a solar power system on your roof. Some of these benefits are financial and involve lower electricity bills and increased home value. There are also environmental advantages of solar energy since it uses a clean and renewable energy source (the light of the sun!) to power your home.

Perhaps you’ve heard about these solar benefits but are still a little skeptical. Maybe you have some of the following questions:

  • I’m afraid solar power sounds too good to be true – what’s the downside?
  • Solar might work for other people, but how do I know it will work for me?
  • How long will my solar panels last?
  • I know it’s good for the environment, but does solar power make financial sense?

Questions like these are understandable. Solar panels are a major investment and you need to do your homework before making that kind of financial commitment. After all, it’s great to feel warm and fuzzy about doing your part for the environment, but you probably don’t want to go bankrupt in the process.

With this in mind, we’ve come up with a list of solar power pros and cons to ease your worried mind. We will start by providing the top six solar power advantages for your consideration. We will support this list with actual studies, facts, and figures, so you know these benefits are more than just the wishful thinking of a solar enthusiast.

After we look at the top six solar benefits, we will explore the two biggest solar power disadvantages you should be aware of. That’s right, solar energy isn’t perfect. By understanding the negative elements of solar power you will be able to manage your expectations and avoid any disappointments or ‘buyer’s remorse’ after you install your solar power system. By considering both the pros and cons of solar energy, you should have a better idea of whether a solar panel installation is right for you.

Now let’s get on to our list. We’ll start with the positive…

The Top Six Solar Power Advantages

1. Solar Energy Will Reduce Your Electric Bill

An electric bill should be pretty simple. Just figure out how much your utility company is charging you per kilowatt hour (kWh) and then multiply that by how many kilowatt hours you use in a month. That should give you your total, right? Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple due to things like:
Time-of-use (TOU) rates (your rate changes based on the time of day)
Tiered rate structures (the more electricity you use, the higher your rate gets)

Due to factors like these, electricity bills are very different from country to country. In fact, electricity bills can also vary from region to region within a single country. Wherever you live, however, you can almost certainly count on a solar installation lowering the amount you pay for electricity.

This is because of a few simple factors:

  • Solar panels reduce the amount of electricity you use
    • Sunlight hits the solar panels on your roof and causes electrons to come free and produce an electric current. This current travels to a solar power inverter where it is converted to the alternating current (AC) that powers your home. Therefore, every kilowatt hour of electricity produced by your solar panels is one less kilowatt hour of electricity that you need to purchase from the electric company. Less electricity purchased means a lower bill for you.
  • Solar panels produce the most power when electricity is the most expensive
    • The time-of-use rates we mentioned previously increase the cost of electricity when demand is highest. This tends to be in the middle of the day. The great thing about this is that this is when your solar power system will likely be producing the most power. Therefore you not only reduce the amount of electricity you have to purchase, you reduce the amount of the most expensive electricity you have to purchase. Not having to buy electricity at the highest rates means a lower bill for you.
  • The Cost of Electricity is Increasing
    • According to the EIA, electricity rates in the United States increased from 8.58¢ per kWh to 13.72¢ per kWh between 2001 and 2021. That’s an increase of sixty percent! Are your electric rates going to skyrocket in the next few years? Only time will tell, but one of the great solar power advantages is knowing that higher electric rates won’t affect you since your “fuel” (sunlight) is free. When you install solar panels, rising electric rates just mean you are saving more every year by getting your power from the sun. So peace of mind is one of the advantages of solar power that you can count on.

2. Solar Panels Increase The Value of Your Home

Installing solar panels can be a no-brainer when you consider the fact that it will likely increase the value of your home. According to the Department of Energy, home buyers are willing to pay a premium of about $15,000 for a home with an average-sized solar array. This removes much of the risk from your solar financial commitment and should put your mind at ease. There is also evidence that your home will sell faster if you have a solar power system installed. This could be a big advantage of solar power if you find yourself selling your home in a buyer’s market.

Solar Power Increases Home Value

3. Solar Power Has Very Low Maintenance Costs

Do you like to tinker with things? Well I’m afraid there won’t be much tinkering necessary when you install solar panels on your roof. These panels have no moving parts so there is minimal wear and tear to be concerned about. Most solar panels also have warranties of twenty five years so any defective panels will be replaced by the manufacturer for the next quarter of a century. On top of this, cleaning of solar panels is not necessary in most areas as rainfall will keep them free of most dust and debris. Periodic inspection of your solar panels is a good idea, but with online monitoring you will likely know if your panels are having any issues just by checking an app on your phone. In summary, solar panels are a ‘no hassle’ form of energy production with very low operating costs. Once your panels are installed, you can just forget about them and let the power of the sun work for you.

4. The Cost of Solar Power Is Lower Than Ever

According to statistics from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the cost of a residential solar installation fell from $7.53 per watt in 2010 to $2.71 per watt in 2020. That’s a decrease of sixty four percent! Will this drastic decrease in solar cost continue? Probably not as solar installation costs seem to have leveled off in recent years (this is a result of the fact that stubborn ‘soft costs’ have been harder to reduce than panel costs). This ‘leveling out’ could mean that it is the perfect time to invest in a solar project, however. You can take advantage of the price drop over the last decade while likely not missing out on similarly dramatic future price reductions. In other words, it might be a great time to go solar.

5. Solar Power Will Probably Work For You

Solar power is much more versatile than you might think. Although a south-facing roof is ideal for an installation, it is not necessary. If your roof faces east or west it might still be capable of generating enough energy to meet your demands. Also, solar panels still produce power in the winter and in cooler weather (in fact, cooler weather actually increases solar panel efficiency!). With the efficiency of solar panels increasing all the time, you also need less rooftop space than ever to install panels. In fact, an NREL study found that 57% of all residential buildings in the United States are suitable for a solar panel installation. Maybe your house is one of them!

6. Solar Energy is Clean and Renewable

The sun provides more than enough energy for all of our needs and it will be providing this energy for a long, long time. Also, no harmful emissions are released when solar panels convert sunlight into electricity. Since we are becoming more aware of the effects of pollution all the time, the clean and renewable nature of solar energy is one of its great selling points. It’s great to know that we will be able to put solar power to work as long as the sun keeps shining!

Those are some pretty impressive solar energy advantages, aren’t they? As you can see, solar power does not have to be a “sacrifice” you make for the sake of the environment. The advantages of solar power can also benefit your pocket book and increase your peace of mind (while you do the right thing for the environment).

But enough about the positives, let’s take a look at the negative side of solar energy.

Two Big Solar Power Disadvantages

1. The High Cost of Solar Panels

Even though a solar power system will save you money in the long-term, the upfront cost can be significant. In fact, according to the Solar Energy Industry Association, the pre-incentive price of an average-sized solar power system in the US is around $20,000. The good news is that the federal renewable energy tax credit will bring that cost under $15,000 and there are many other incentives available. There are also solar leases, power purchase agreements, and loans that make solar power more affordable. Even with all of these options, however, it is true that solar panels aren’t cheap and that they remain unaffordable for some people.

2. Solar Panels Only Work When The Sun Shines

Solar panels only produce electricity when the sun is out. This turns many people against using the sun as a source of power. Although intermittency is a disadvantage to solar power, the vast majority of solar installations are actually connected to the electrical grid. This means that the grid can be used as a battery that stores the power your system produces in the day time. You can then draw that power from the grid at night or on cloudy days when your panels aren’t producing much electricity. There are also many battery storage options available in case you want to ensure you have power even when the grid goes down. In summary, the intermittency of solar power is a pain but there are some great options available for dealing with it!

So there you have it: Six solar power advantages and two solar power disadvantages to consider. Hopefully the positives outweigh the negatives for you and you are able to take advantage of the financial and environmental benefits of solar energy. Best of luck!