The Pros and Cons of Solar Panels: What You Need to Know (2022)

There are solar panel salespeople on every corner. It's difficult to separate the sales pitch and gimmicks from the actual benefits for you.

Investing in solar can be a significant financial decision. Outfitting your home with a solar panel system is not cheap. You will have to deal with it for the next 20+ years.

We’ll go through each of the pros and cons of solar power and what each means for your wallet and carbon footprint.

Pros and cons of solar panels

There are many moving parts when it comes to making a decision about solar. Your finances and energy goals will dictate how each pro and con affect your decision.

This chart lists the most common pros and cons of solar power that people have to deal with.

Pros of solar panels

Reduce or eliminate electric bills

The biggest pro of solar panels for those looking for cost savings is the potential to reduce or eliminate their electricity bills. This is also what many solar salespeople will start their pitch with.

The whole idea behind solar panels is to generate electricity. That electricity then goes back into the grid. Your utility will subtract the amount of electricity you put into the grid versus what you actually used.

Depending on how much electricity you put into the grid you could potentially have a $0 electric bill in months where you generated more than you used. This billing mechanism is called net metering. If you live in an area with net metering, you can also gain bill credits for the excess energy you produce.

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For example, in September you generate 200 kWh of energy but only use 150 kWh. The extra 50 kWh of energy would roll over to your October bill in the form of a bill credit.

There are many caveats here, so it is extremely important to research local net metering laws.

Reduce your carbon footprint

For many, the biggest reason for investing in solar is to reduce their carbon footprint. Solar panels do not release carbon dioxide when producing electricity, but there is some carbon footprint associated with their production.

The general rule of thumb is to account for 50g of CO2 per kilowatt-hour for the first 3 years your panels are up and running. Although there is some carbon footprint, solar panels have 20 times less carbon footprint than traditional coal power generation. After the first 3 years of production, your solar panels will be carbon neutral for the remainder of their lifespan.

Improve your home value

One of the biggest financial advantages of solar energy systems is that they increase your home value. While the increase will differ based on your location and other factors in the real estate market the home value increase is relatively large.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that home value increases $20 for every $1 in savings on electricity bills. So a solar energy system that saves $200 per year would also add $4,000 to the value of a home.

Additionally, Zillow data shows that homes with solar panels sell for up to 4.1% more than homes without them.

Energy independence from the grid

If you have ever had to withstand days or weeks-long power outages the idea of being able to be in control of your own power system is ideal.

Alternatively, those who prefer to keep a house or cabin off-grid for whatever reason can install solar panels to create their own independent source of energy.

Whatever your reasoning, with the right equipment you can create your own independent clean energy system using solar panels. This generally requires the use of a solar battery system to store energy.

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If this is your goal make sure to consult your solar installer to make sure you get all of the equipment you need to power your home if there is a grid-wide power outage.

Earn money back from SRECs

Solar Energy Credits or “SRECs” for short are a performance-based incentive that allows you to earn credits for every megawatt-hour (MWh) or kilowatt-hours of electricity your solar system generates.

For each MWh generated you receive an SREC that can be sold for sometimes hundreds of dollars. Unlike net metering, this is real money you can put in your pocket or use to pay back your solar panel loan.

The downside is that SRECs are only available in a limited number of states, most of which are in the northeast. States with SRECs vary in how much they will pay, but it’s an added benefit to going solar.

Take advantage of incentive programs

The United States is going through a solar renaissance. Improved technology and manufacturing costs paired with federal and state incentives make going solar easier than ever before.

The federal solar tax credit won’t last forever and since many local governments are making a push for more clean energy you can capitalize on these programs to save a ton of money on your system.

Cons of solar panels

Solar panels are expensive

The average 5kW solar panel system costs $15,000 in the United States. Larger systems can quickly reach price tags of $20,000. Not exactly pocket change.

Many people opt to finance their solar panels which means they will also incur interest, adding to the costs.

It’s a big financial decision and it’s not something you can get out of. Solar panels are usually a 20 year or more long commitment.

Long payback period

We established that solar panels can be pricey, which also means that it can take several years for them to pay for themselves aka their payback period.

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The payback period for solar panels will depend on the cost of electricity in your area, the number of incentives you receive, how much electricity your system generates, and how much your system costs.

To determine your payback period follow this formula:

Gross cost - Incentives = Total cost

Total cost ÷ Annual savings = Payback period

Here’s an example.

Gross cost of $25,000 - Incentives of $6,500 = Total cost of $18,500

Total cost of $18,500 ÷ Annual savings of $2,000 = 9.25 years

Not viable for all roofs or homes

While just about any roof can have solar panels installed, it doesn’t mean it’s a good fit. Solar panels need a lot of sunlight day in and day out to be viable.

If your home’s roof is in the shade because of its design or other reasons like trees or other homes blocking sunlight it could mean solar panels aren’t going to work for you. You should also consider the climate you are in. States like Arizona and Texas receive a ton of sunlight almost year-round whereas Maine does not.

You can use Google’s Project Sunroof to determine how much sunlight your home’s roof gets per year.

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Fewer savings when electricity costs are low

The lower electricity prices are in your area the less financially viable solar is for your home.

For example in Hawaii where electricity prices are usually 20 cents or more per kWh, your solar panels quickly pay for themselves. In Louisiana, where electricity rates are typically below 8 cents per kWh it could take a significant amount of time for your panels to pay for themselves.

So unless you are looking to reduce your environmental impact and dependency on fossil fuels, you should think about the energy market in your area.

To help you determine your payback period and see average energy rates in your area we created a solar calculator that will help you decide if solar is right for you.

Installation can be difficult

Installing solar panels is not an easy task. While installation is usually done within a day or two, it’s not exactly as easy as snapping your fingers.

You will most likely need to use a solar installer or contractor to install your panels. There are also some hoops you will need to jump through in order to get city or local permits and get your system connected to the energy grid.

Also, keep in mind that in many cases your solar installer is the one that supplies the warranty for your solar panels. If your solar installer goes out of business for whatever reason you may be stuck without any sort of warranty to keep your panels up and running.

Financial liability

If you decide to finance or lease your solar panels you are taking on a hefty financial liability. If you miss payments or make late payments it can impact your credit score negatively.

You also need to be wary of tricky terms and conditions in your financing agreement. Some unsavory lenders will include variable rates or payment increases that are based on the amount of principal and interest left on your loan after a certain date.

They will then structure the loan so that you have to pay more than the standard monthly payment to reach the remaining balance after a time period without facing penalties.

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In short, read your agreement carefully and ask questions.

Making the right decision about solar power

There are a lot of advantages to going solar, but it’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons of your particular goals and system.

If you are not sure if solar is right for you you can use our free solar calculator that will help you see if it makes financial sense and help guide you through the process.

FAQs

What are the pros and cons of solar panel? ›

Pros and Cons of Solar Energy
Advantages of Solar EnergyDisadvantages of Solar Energy
Decreases use of non-renewable resourcesHigh upfront costs
Reduces power billSunlight dependent
Energy independenceSpace constraints
Long-term savingsEnvironmental impact of manufacturing
5 more rows
14 Oct 2022

What are 3 pros of using solar panels? ›

The main advantages of solar energy are that it helps you lower your electric bill, raise your home value, reduce your carbon footprint, combat rising electricity costs, and earn money back on your investment.

What are the 2 disadvantages to solar energy? ›

High initial costs for material and installation and long ROI (however, with the reduction in the cost of solar over the last 10 years, solar is becoming more cost feasible every day) Needs lots of space as efficiency is not 100% yet. No solar power at night so there is a need for a large battery bank.

What are 3 pros and cons of solar energy? ›

Pros and Cons of Solar Energy
Advantages of Solar EnergyDisadvantages of Solar Energy
Reduces Electricity BillsWeather Dependent
Diverse ApplicationsSolar Energy Storage is Expensive
Low Maintenance CostsUses a Lot of Space
Technology DevelopmentAssociated with Pollution
1 more row
7 Oct 2022

What are three cons of solar? ›

The Top 5 Disadvantages of Solar Energy
  • Solar Panel Installations Can Be Expensive. ...
  • Solar Energy Doesn't Work at Night. ...
  • Solar Energy Storage is Expensive. ...
  • Solar Panels are Difficult to Move Once Installed. ...
  • Some Solar Panels Use Rare Earth Metals.

What is the biggest problem with solar panels? ›

One of the biggest problems that solar energy technology poses is that energy is only generated while the sun is shining. That means nighttime and overcast days can interrupt the supply.

Do solar panels cause roof leaks? ›

In virtually all cases, the answer is no. Roof leaks after solar panels are extremely rare. When roof leaking after the solar panels are fitted does occur, however, it usually becomes evident very quickly after the installation process is finished.

How long do solar panels last? ›

Solar panels, also known as photovoltaic or PV panels, are made to last more than 25 years. In fact, many solar panels installed as early as the 1980s are still working at expected capacity. Not only are solar panels remarkably reliable, solar panel longevity has increased dramatically over the last 20 years.

Do solar panels work at night? ›

The short answer is: no, solar energy systems only operate during the day. This is because the power from the sun is key to how a solar panel turns light into electricity.

What's the benefit of solar panels? ›

Solar panels are a great way to offset energy costs, reduce the environmental impact of your home and provide a host of other benefits, such as supporting local businesses and contributing to energy independence.

How much do solar panels save? ›

To calculate the savings we subtract the cost of the solar system installation from the projected cost of 30 years of electricity if bought from the utility company. How much do you save with solar panels? You will save an estimated $17,700 in savings over the lifetime of the solar panel array.

Do solar panels hurt the environment? ›

Solar energy technologies and power plants do not produce air pollution or greenhouse gases when operating. Using solar energy can have a positive, indirect effect on the environment when solar energy replaces or reduces the use of other energy sources that have larger effects on the environment.

Are solar panels expensive? ›

With installation, an average residential 5-kW system costs from $3 to $5 per watt, according to the CSE, which results in the $15,000 to $25,000 range. That cost is before any tax credits or incentives. If you know your current energy usage, you can calculate how much you'll need to pay for solar panels.

What are 10 benefits of solar energy? ›

Advantages of Solar Energy and Why You Should Switch Into Solar Panels
  • Benefits of Solar Energy to the Environment.
  • Saving Water.
  • Saving Money.
  • Gaining Money.
  • Using Renewable Energy Source.
  • Low Maintenance.
  • Improving Grid Security.
  • Creating Jobs.
27 Oct 2020

Do solar panels require maintenance? ›

Solar panels generally require very little maintenance in order to function, so yes, you can usually just let them be. The only thing they need is a periodic light cleaning to make sure dirt, leaves, and other debris aren't obstructing the sun's rays.

What causes solar panels to fail? ›

Generally, solar modules can be expected to degrade by 0.5% to 3% a year. There are four main factors that contribute to normal degradation, all from natural causes: thermal cycling, damp heat, humidity freeze and ultraviolet (UV) exposure.

How long do solar panels cost? ›

Solar panels cost, on average, about $16,000, or between $3,500 to $35,000 depending on the type and model. While solar panels can help save you money on energy costs, it's important to know the overall startup solar panel costs so you can plan a budget.

Does rain hurt solar panels? ›

Solar panels will still work even when the light is reflected or partially blocked by clouds. Rain actually helps to keep your panels operating efficiently by washing away any dust or dirt.

Can rain destroy solar panels? ›

The rain itself will have no effect on your solar energy system. Solar panels are made of waterproof material, hence moisture won't damage them.

Does rain ruin solar panels? ›

Solar panels that are not waterproofed properly can have rain get inside and damage individual cells. Rain can also flood the panel, meaning that less amount of sunlight can reach the parts that react with the solar energy.

Do solar panels hurt your roof? ›

For most homeowners, as long as your solar panels are properly installed, they shouldn't do damage to the exterior or the infrastructure of your roof. If you are working with a qualified licensed professional and your roof is in good condition, your solar panels won't affect the integrity of your roof.

How often do solar panels need to be cleaned? ›

So, a good rule of thumb is to arrange for a cleaning at least every six months, possibly more if you feel the panels are constantly getting dirty. If there isn't much of an issue, then one cleaning every six months should be more than enough.

What maintenance is required for solar panels? ›

The only regular maintenance needed for your solar panels is cleaning and an annual inspection. Otherwise, as long as your panels are working properly, they won't need additional maintenance throughout the year.

Does winter affect solar panels? ›

Even in below-freezing weather, solar panels turn sunlight into electricity. That's because solar panels absorb energy from our sun's abundant light, not the sun's heat. In fact, cold climates are actually optimal for solar panel efficiency. So long as sunlight is hitting a solar panel, it will generate electricity.

Do solar panels work in snow? ›

Researchers at the test centers have shown that solar can still successfully generate electricity in snowy areas and other harsh environments. A dusting of snow has little impact on solar panels because the wind can easily blow it off.

How many hours of sunlight does a solar panel need? ›

Ideally, your solar panels should receive at least four hours of direct sunlight per day.

Is solar panel really good? ›

Not only is solar power good for the environment, but you can earn money selling back excess power to the grid. While costs have come down over the past years, installation and maintenance of solar panels can be quite expensive. Solar panels are best suited for homes that receive ample sun exposure throughout the year.

Is solar power cheap? ›

The cost of solar power has plummeted in recent years, and in many places, it is even cheaper than coal or other fossil fuels. Thanks to generous tax credits and subsidies, solar installations are now increasing worldwide. Below, we cover some of the economic considerations surrounding solar energy.

Why are my solar panels not saving me money? ›

Your Home Is Using Too Much Power

If your solar panels are not reducing your bill, it can be because: Your system is generating less electricity than you use. You're using too much electricity at night when panels aren't generating it. Too many appliances or devices are plugged in.

Do solar panels increase bills? ›

PV solar panels enable you to generate your own free electricity, which is then used to power your household appliances and other electrical devices. This means that you won't need as much electricity from the grid so will save money on your bills, especially if energy prices rise.

How can I get free solar panels from the government? ›

What's the Process for Applying for a Solar Panel Grant? To apply for a solar panel grant, you can contact any of the participating energy companies. You can find the contact details for these companies on the Ofgem website. You'll first need to apply and be confirmed as eligible for the free solar panel grant.

What happens to solar panel waste? ›

Many of these dead panels are dumped in landfills, even though they contain valuable elements such as silicon, silver, and copper. Researchers are now racing to develop chemical technologies that can help dismantle solar cells and strip away the valuable metals within.

Can solar panels be hit by lightning? ›

Lightning can cause devastating damage to solar panels and protection needs to be considered during the design stages. Lightning strikes, whether direct or indirect, can result in both down time and expenses in identifying and replacing damaged parts.

What happens to solar panels at end of life? ›

Just like paint, batteries, electronics and furniture waste, solar panels are going to landfill. Solar panels and other electronics waste in particular may contain hazardous substances. When these products end up in landfill they contribute to Earth's pollution problem.

Do solar panels cause water pollution? ›

No air or water pollution is given off when solar panels are used for energy production. It does not require transport of fuels or disposal of waste products. Solar energy produces electricity very quietly so it can be used in residential areas without creating noise pollution.

Is solar the future? ›

Photovoltaics (PV) and concentrating solar power are likely to continue to grow rapidly—the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) projects solar energy could provide 45% of the electricity in the United States by 2050 if the energy system is fully decarbonized—and technology costs are projected to continue to ...

What are the long term effects of solar energy? ›

Solar panel manufacturing and disposal activities lead towards air pollutant emissions, excess land use, more water consumption (differs per technologies), waste management and recycling issues, ecological and other land use impacts.

Can a house run on solar power alone? ›

With a modern solar energy system, including power storage, you can definitely run a whole house completely on solar power. Today's high-efficiency solar panels and solar batteries make it cheaper than ever before to power an entire home exclusively using solar energy.

Can solar panels power a house during a power outage? ›

Solar panels alone won't work during a power outage—but when paired with solar battery storage, they can. See how solar battery storage keeps your solar systems working during an outage with reliable, renewable solar power, and why we need clean energy now more than ever.

Is solar cheaper than electric bill? ›

Although solar energy requires an initial investment to purchase and set up, people find that solar energy is a lot less expensive than electric power in the long run due to the rising price of electricity.

What are 5 Advantages and disadvantages of solar? ›

Advantages & Disadvantages of Solar Energy – 7 Pros and Cons
Advantages of Solar EnergyDisadvantages of Solar Energy
Reduces Electricity BillsHigh Initial Costs
Provides Tax IncentivesTime Consuming
Pairs with Solar Battery StorageWeather Dependent
Environmentally FriendlyStringent Criteria
23 Sept 2021

What are pros about solar panels? ›

Pros of solar panels
  • Reduce or eliminate electric bills. ...
  • Reduce your carbon footprint. ...
  • Improve your home value. ...
  • Energy independence from the grid. ...
  • Earn money back from SRECs. ...
  • Take advantage of incentive programs. ...
  • Solar panels are expensive. ...
  • Long payback period.

Will solar panels cause roof leaks? ›

In virtually all cases, the answer is no. Roof leaks after solar panels are extremely rare. When roof leaking after the solar panels are fitted does occur, however, it usually becomes evident very quickly after the installation process is finished.

Is solar a good choice? ›

There are various ways solar panels pay off, from reducing your carbon footprint to increasing your home's value. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that homes with solar power increased in value by $20 for every dollar saved on energy. That is a 20-to-1 return on investment (ROI).

Videos

1. Pros & Cons of Solar Panels (Watch this video before you invest) │GreenMatch
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2. Is Solar Worth It? My experience after two years owning Solar Panels
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3. Pros and Cons of Solar Panels - Are they worth it?
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4. Basics & Benefits of Going Solar | SCE & Solar Power
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5. Martin Lewis Offers Advice on Solar Panels | Good Morning Britain
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6. 10 things you NEED TO KNOW before getting a SOLAR PV system installed at your home
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