Updated Jan 12, 2023
Solar photovoltaic panels, or PV panels, are a fast-growing source of clean, renewable energy for businesses and agricultural industries worldwide. Luckily, for homeowners seeking clean energy and big savings, this efficient power source is becoming increasingly popular for residential use. Unfortunately, that popularity summons widespread misinformation and assumptions about solar technology.
This article will debunk common solar energy myths to clarify the truth about this clean energy source. Along the way, we’ll discuss how PV panels operate and fit into modern homeownership.
Due to the fast-growing nature of solar power generation, many prospective home buyers view it as a coveted upgrade. Although homeowners may not realize it at first, solar panels actually increase a home’s resale value. A 2019 study from Zillow found that homes with solar energy systems sold for nearly $10,000 more than traditionally powered homes.
Installing solar panels can yield not just sustainability perks but financial ones, too. This benefit is excellent for homeowners looking to eventually sell. They can install solar panels for long-term energy savings and sell their homes for more when the time comes.
One common myth about solar energy is that PV panels only work in sunny conditions. Luckily for those in cloudy climates, this isn’t true.
Solar panels still generate power on cloudy days. They work using solar photovoltaic cells that translate sunlight particles into electrical currents. You’ll get the most payoff on days with bright, direct sunlight, but overcast skies won’t inhibit energy production.
Contrary to popular belief, solar panels produce more energy in colder weather. When scorching temperatures surround the panel, the photovoltaic cells have difficulty converting light into electricity.
A crucial factor to remember when determining your area’s solar power efficiency is that PV panels collect light, not heat. If you live in a chilly area that receives bright, direct sunlight, your solar panels will keep the energy coming.
Some people think solar panels negatively impact the environment once their lifespan ends. They assume that used panels will accumulate in landfills, creating an excess of toxic technical waste.
It’s important to first note that a single solar panel can generate clean energy for up to 25 years. But it’s true that once those 25 years are up, the PV panels will eventually sputter out and cease energy generation.
However, establishments like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are implementing programs to recycle PV panels and ensure they don’t wind up in landfills. The International Renewable Energy Agency speculates that recycled solar panels contain the resources needed to develop 60 million new panels.
Many folks interested in solar assume they’ll be free of electric bills once their PV panels start supplying energy. However, this is a myth, because solar panels don’t produce enough power to meet typical energy consumption needs.
Most solar-powered homes still connect to the main power grid and use energy supplied by utility companies. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, solar panels only provide a fraction of most homes’ energy needs, and the rest comes from the grid. For this reason, solar panels won’t eliminate your traditional power bills but can lower them by decreasing the amount of energy you use from traditional systems.
Solar panels aren’t typically capable of supplying all of the energy a home needs. For this reason, solar-powered homes connect to the primary electrical grid to fulfill those needs. This grid connection is valuable during low solar production days but problematic during electric grid outages.
Solar systems connect to the primary grid with a solar inverter meter that records how much energy you use. Additionally, all energy systems – including solar panels – shut down to protect utility service technicians from harm during grid blackouts.
The only way to use your solar power during grid outages is to install a solar battery storage system. These alternatives to traditional generators store excess energy as a backup when the grid is down.
Some people avoid solar panel installation because they fear the process is too expensive. This may have been the case a decade ago, but the growing popularity and need for clean energy have made solar panels more affordable.
Solar companies generally offer financing options for homeowners interested in going solar. You can buy your panels through monthly payments that resemble an electricity bill. Some providers offer below-market rates for solar loans to save you more on power. Check N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center’s database to locate renewable energy incentives in your state.
Sunlight is the ultimate energy source. It’s also available worldwide, which isn’t the case for most energy sources.
Better yet, solar production slows pollution by reducing fossil fuel emissions and the progression of our carbon footprint. In this sense, solar power isn’t just viable but incredibly valuable, too.
We’re already moving toward widespread solar use to reduce carbon emissions and slow climate change. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory predicts solar will make up 45% of the nation’s electricity supply by 2050.
The idea that solar panels will add to your home’s maintenance routine is a myth. Sun Badger Solar says PV panels won’t need maintenance for years after installation. The panels operate independently without tune-ups or cleaning. Rainwater washes away dust and grime, cleaning panel surfaces naturally.
Panels generally only need maintenance during infrequent rainfall or heavy snow, when dust or ice buildup could inhibit energy production. If you’re concerned about the functionality of your solar panels, you can download an app to track their power output. These tools alert you if the output is irregular and indicate which panels might need maintenance.
Solar panels won’t damage your roof if installed correctly. In other words, you can avoid harming your home by hiring a solar installation professional for the job.
Solar panels fasten to your roof with aluminum rails and mounts. The mounts have metal feet that screw into the roofing material with lag bolts. The most critical part of this process is sealing around the screws to prevent moisture from leaking through the roof. The technician will also install a water-tight barrier to protect your roof from water damage.
You’ll likely want to reconsider panel placement if your roof isn’t in great condition. If your roof is old and needs replacement, complete those repairs first before installing PV panels.
Now that you’ve got the full scoop on solar energy fact and fiction, you can decide whether PV panels are right for your home. With proper installation, planning, and accurate information, you’ll be well on your way to significant energy savings and a cleaner future for the planet.
Solar is a proven technology dating back to the 7th Century B.C. when people used mirrors to light fires. Fast forward to 1905, when Albert Einstein won a Nobel Prize for his research on the photoelectric effect. Studies and implementations of the technology continued throughout the 20th century, ultimately leading to a worldwide installed solar panel capacity of 1,000 megawatts in 1999. Today, solar production is a proven, affordable, and renewable energy source for homes, businesses, and industries across the globe.
One negative aspect of solar panels is that they don’t generate power at night. No sunlight reaches the panel, so it can’t transform particles into electricity. This is why solar panels aren’t reliable as a home’s sole energy source. If you’re trying to go fully solar, consider installing battery backups to store additional energy for nighttime use.
One problem with solar is that panel production negatively impacts the environment. According to Honua Ola Bioenergy, PV panel manufacturing processes contribute to carbon emissions, toxic waste production, and ecosystem damage. So while solar energy generation itself is environmentally friendly, the manufacturing process for the panels is not – at least, not yet.
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