No matter how great something is — like solar power — it’s not always the right option for everyone. Once you’re ready to go solar, you have to look at both the negatives and positives in order to make the best decision for you, your family, and your home.
Before committing to a solar panel installation, consider these pros and cons.
Pros of Going Solar
You’ve heard that going solar is a good thing. Here’s why.
Lower electric bill. The immediate and most popular benefit of going solar is a reduction in your electric bill each month. You’ll use less (or none) of the electricity from your local utility company and your bill will drop.
Increased value of your home. Solar power has a monetary value (the cost of the materials) as well as being a highly valued and prized amenity to potential home buyers. Once installed, the value of your home increases simply because you’ve gone solar.
Decreased energy use and help the environment. If helping the environment is important to you, this is a big positive of solar power. Your home will depend less on energy that uses up non-renewable resources.
Potential extra income. Many homeowners are able to sell excess energy back to the power company in exchange for energy credits. Each month, they receive a check instead of having to make a payment.
Control your energy costs. If you’ve ever been annoyed, frustrated, or concerned at the rising costs of your electric bill, you’re not alone. No one can control whether the power company raises their rates or not. But when you go solar, you do have more control over those costs because you’re less dependent on the power company.
Available incentives and rebates. In 2015, Congress voted to extend the Renewable Tax Credit of 30 percent for another eight years. Some state and local governments as well as utility companies also offer rebates and incentives to help homeowners go solar, too.
“Free” energy. There is a cost for having solar panels installed, but it pays for itself quicker than you realize. Once you’ve received any rebates or tax incentives and felt the benefit of lower electric bills, eventually your solar power becomes a source of “free” energy.
Quiet and little maintenance needed. Once installed, your solar panels will be quiet and require very little maintenance. When installed properly and made of high-quality materials, your solar panels can last 25 to 35 years, and possibly longer.
Cons of Going Solar
Because nothing is perfect, there are things to consider that might make going solar less appealing for you.
Racking can’t be installed on every type of roof. Cedar tiles, slate roofing, and other older or historic roofs are not always good candidates for solar panel installation. You’re not doomed to depend on the power company, but you may need to wait until you get a new roof or try other alternatives.
Not a great option if you’re about to move. If you’re about to put your home on the market, you’ll have spent the money without seeing any of the savings. While it will increase the value of your home, you’re highly unlikely to see a full return on your investment from the sale. Better to wait until you’ve moved to your new home before installing solar panels.
Not everyone sees a huge difference in cost savings. While everyone who goes solar will see a reduction of their energy costs, where you live will determine how great of a reduction. If you live in an expensive place like Hawaii, your savings will feel more dramatic. But if you live in an area of the country with relatively low energy costs, the savings might not feel that dramatic.
Upfront costs can be steep. While you’ll likely be eligible for tax credits or rebates, you may have to pay upfront to have solar panels installed. This can be a bit too pricey for many homeowners. You may find financing options but always read the fine print carefully and understand what you’re agreeing to.
The sun doesn’t shine all the time. This one seems obvious, doesn’t it? Since the sun doesn’t always shine or shine at the same strength throughout the year, the sun is an intermittent source of energy. It fluctuates. Technology is beginning to catch up and solar storage is becoming more widely available, but it’s expensive.
Once you understand the benefits and the disadvantages of solar power, it’ll be easier to make the right decision for your home.