It's hard to resist a product that claims to reduce or completely eliminate your electricity bills, and it's even harder to believe that system is affordable for middle-income homeowners.
But both of those facts are true about solar energy.
You're probably curious about what it actually takes to make the switch to solar energy, but with so many conflicting articles floating around the internet, it may not be so easy to separate the facts from the myths.
Today we're going to discuss—and debunk—the top 9 myths about going solar.
After today's article, you'll have all the information you need to make an informed decision about whether making the switch to solar energy is right for you and your family.
Let's get started!
1. Solar Energy's Just for Hippies, Rich People, and Tech Geeks
Quite the contrary, solar energy is for anyone who wants to save money on their monthly electric bill.
Taking better care of the environment is clearly a huge positive of solar energy, but it may not be the main reason the majority of solar adopters choose to make the switch.
In fact, the biggest trend in solar is its emerging popularity among middle-income families looking to save extra cash every month.
Not only will most solar power units completely eliminate your electricity bill (or come very close), they even offer you the chance to sell the power your system generates back to the electric company at a profit. Some months you may earn more than you have to pay.
Add on all the incentives, credits, and rebates your state may tack on to make going solar attractive, and the decision to go solar becomes easy for tree-huggers and corporate ladder climbers alike.
Solar energy is enjoying a revolution in homes all across the country. Think about this: A solar energy system is installed every 83 seconds in the United States.
2. Solar Energy Doesn't Produce Enough Power
While you do have the option to go off the grid when you install your own solar panels, to do this effectively you'd need to invest in costly batteries and backup generators to ensure that you always have enough power to provide electricity for your home.
This can be a bit of a pain.
That's why most solar panel owners don't go off the grid. They connect to it.
See, when your solar panel provider installs your system, they will connect you to your area's local power or electrical company's power grid.
What this means is that your solar panels will generate electricity during the day—but probably more than your home will actually use. Whatever your home doesn't use will be sent back to the power grid for the electric company.
Don't worry, you're not giving the electric company your solar-generated energy for free.
At night when your solar panels are not capturing the sun's rays, your home will still enjoy power thanks to being connected to the power grid.
While you're used to paying for the electricity you use, your electric charges after you install solar energy panels will be the difference between the energy your home used and the energy your solar panels generated and sent to the power grid.
Usually, solar panels create an excess of energy so your electricity bills are either completely eliminated or incredibly small.
What really works out well is the fact that your solar panels will be creating the most energy during the same peak hours your home will be consuming the greatest amount of energy. The electric companies typically charge a premium for usage during times of high, primetime demand. However, you won't have to pay for this rate hike due to the energy your panels produce.
You get the best of both worlds: You have access to electricity whenever you need it and you enjoy very low electric bills every month.
3. It's Too Hard to Install Solar Panels
While you can certainly take on the home-improvement project to add solar panels to your home, you can also totally skip this option.
All you have to do is find a reputable solar energy company, schedule a (typically free) consultation to estimate the size and power requirements of your property, and request an installation quote.
Your solar company may even be able to guess how much you'll be able to save in electricity every month to offset the cost of installation.
Once you decide to go solar (awesome!), your solar company will take care of all the necessary permits, inspections, and paperwork so you don't have to get involved if you don't have time.
4. Solar Energy is Too Expensive to See an ROI Yet
The World Wildlife Organization says that "97% of Americans overestimate the cost of solar panels."
Don't let this myth stop you from getting an installation quote.
Solar energy starts producing a return on your installation investment starting from day one.
When you first hook up your solar panels to the electricity grid, you're sending the power company energy that they'll credit to your account.
97% of Americans overestimate the cost of solar panels.
Homes with high electricity bills have the potential to not only completely eliminate their high monthly payments, but also earn extra cash if their power utility pays a high price for the energy their solar panels generate for the grid.
These savings, coupled with each state's different tax credits and rebates, make solar panels one of the quickest and easiest returns on investment.
Options such as solar leasing let you install a solar energy system with little or no money down so you can start reaping the electrical savings immediately.
Keeping your solar energy system running efficiently, you could pay off the system in under 10 years, or under 5 if your state has great incentives and rebates you can count towards the price of installation.
Currently 48 states have solar or renewable energy incentives ranging from a minimum of 30% of the cost of your installation to as much as 85% of the costs.
Add the 30% federal tax credit and that cuts your startup costs even more.
5. Solar Technology is Still New and Unreliable
Unlike cell phone models that change drastically from one year to the next, solar energy has been building upon the same technologies first developed in the 1960s at a steady, gradual pace.
You won't install solar panels and have to replace them the following year for an updated system. Most solar equipment comes with a 25 year guarantee, which does not come standard on many electronics these days.
Because the solar panels hardly ever have to be replaced, they can last for decades with very little maintenance required.
Connecting to a power grid means you always have a reliable source of electricity so your home is never without power.
As long as you're running your solar energy system effectively, you'll never use the word ‘unreliable' to describe your electricity.
PS: The U.S. military is one of the largest consumers of solar energy. They rely and depend on solar technology to power their home bases and those abroad. Still think solar energy's unreliable?
6. It's Hard to Keep Up With Solar Panel Maintenance
This myth is totally BUSTED.
Since solar panels don't have any moving parts, regular maintenance for them is a breeze.
Here's the most you'll have to do to keep your solar energy system running at its most efficient:
- Rinse off the panels at least once a year with a hose. Accumulated dust or bird droppings can block sunlight from getting to your panels. Don't use any detergent that may create a film on your panels. If you live in an area with heavy rainfall, you can even let Mother Nature take care of this one for you.
- Make sure debris stays off your solar panels. Take a walk by your unit every so often to check for leaves, feathers, or garbage that may be blocking the sun's rays from getting to your panels.
Many solar systems now have monitoring software included with your installation so you can see drops in output efficiency immediately. Others are even connected to your solar installation provider so they can keep an eye on your system and tell you what's wrong if something does happen.
You'll have access to information you can use to track your output, usage, and even how much money you're saving every month. Most systems will allow you to check these numbers from your mobile device or a small, wall-mounted unit inside your home.
7. Solar Only Works in Sunny Areas
Don't tell that to Germany.
During June 2014, "Germany reached a significant milestone and national record by satisfying more than 50 percent of its electricity demand with 23.1 gigawatts of solar power—which was half of the entire world's production at the time."
Germany gets about as much sunshine as Alaska does, which is to say, not very much.
The sunniest parts of Germany get around 1,600 hours of sun each year while parts of Arizona can clock in close to 4,300 sunny hours a year.
[During June 2014] Germany reached a significant milestone and national record by satisfying more than 50 percent of its electricity demand with 23.1 gigawatts of solar power—which was half of the entire world's production at the time.
It may be strange to think, but solar panels don't actually need bright, hot sunlight every single day of the year to capture the UV rays it needs to create electricity.
How many times have you skipped wearing sunscreen on an overcast day only to return home with a sunburn?
That same logic applies to solar panels.
While you can't see the sun, the sun's rays are still poking through the clouds and landing on your skin, or getting absorbed by your solar panels.
In fact, solar panels perform better in cooler climates that don't have a ton of direct sunlight every day. They exceed output expectations when they're not overheating under the sun's extreme rays.
8. Solar Panels Damage Your Roof
When properly installed, solar panels will not destroy your roof.
In fact, solar panels will actually protect your roof from weather-related issues and keep your roof pristine underneath its panels.
If you're worried about the aesthetic look of solar panels ruining the design of your roof— especially if your home has classic or historic architecture—you're in luck.
The demand for attractive solar panels has been transforming this former eyesore into a sleek update any homeowner would be proud of.
Those big, bulky solar panels from the 1960s have been replaced with modern, slim panels. Companies even make shingles of solar panels for seamless roof integration and sunlight capturing.
9. Solar Energy Raises Your Property Taxes
This myth could not be further from the truth.
Installing solar energy on your property is property-tax exempt in most U.S. states. Plus, incentives and rebates for going solar will drive the cost down of your solar installation even more.
You will start saving money on your electricity bill with a tax-free investment that will literally pay for itself.
Speaking of investments, did you know that adding solar energy to your home also raises its appraisal value?
That's right; you could make a zero-tax investment, save money on your bills, and add close to $20,000 to your home's value.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, every $1,000 you save in annual electric costs nets you an additional $20,000 in home value.
Now that you have all the facts, do you feel more confident about going solar?
Whether you can afford the initial solar energy investment with the help of state rebates and incentives, or if you're considering a solar lease plan, the decision to go solar will not be one you're likely to regret.
Once you start seeing the savings roll in every month you don't have to pay an electricity bill, you'll probably wonder what took you so long to separate the facts from the myths about solar energy.