Energy has become something of a hot topic lately. With fossil fuels becoming less and less desirable as a source of power, there have been increased calls into providing for alternative forms of energy. Among the most prolific is solar energy, which utilizes the power of the sun to provide energy to homes and businesses across the country.
With advances in the technology making it cheaper and smaller, residential solar panels have slowly gained in popularity in recent years. However how effective is solar energy as an alternative source of electricity for your home really?
Nothing is perfect, and solar panels are no exception. While many people swear by them, they come with their own costs just like anything else.
- Initial cost.
The primary disadvantage that most homeowners looking to install residential solar panels will find are that, on the offset, they’re very expensive. A decent rig will cost you several thousand dollars upfront, and that’s even before you get into the costs of having them fitted and installed. At the cheapest, expect a price tag around $7000, depending on the size of your roof and the amount of sunlight it usually receives.
- Need lots of space.
If you want to get the most out of your solar panels, you’ll need to make sure you have a lot of them. As they’re already fairly broad, this will mean you’ll need to devote a fair amount of space to your panels. This can result in much of your roof being taken up by the rig, or else you’ll need to sacrifice the sunniest section of your yard as an alternative.
- Ineffective at night.
As solar panels require sunlight in order to produce power, this naturally leaves them utterly impotent during the night time. As storage for electricity produced this way is expensive, this will mean your electricity will cut out at night if you can’t afford solar batteries and have no alternative source of power.
While often touted as the ultimate green energy source, residential solar panels still carry a carbon footprint. Solar cells are made up of various toxic chemicals such as mercury, lead, and cadmium. Likewise the production of solar panels more than likely produced some evolution in itself.
- Long term investment.
While residential solar panels do carry a hefty price tag upon first purchase, this is a one-time fee. After installation and activation, solar panels will provide electricity to your home at absolutely no cost to you. Depending on how much you rely on it for your household’s electricity needs, this will mean that your solar panels will eventually pay themselves off after a few years or decades.
While solar panels do require daylight in order to function, this does not need to be direct. Even if they’re in the shade or if the weather is overcast, they will still be producing electricity. Direct sunlight simply produces the most energy. Thus even if you live in a state that isn’t always especially sunny, such as Washington state or Maine, you can still get some use from your panels.
Likewise, even if they cannot produce power at night, humans are rarely active much at that time during the day. Power requirements actually peak at around midday, which conveniently is when the sun is at its strongest.
- Non-Pollutant Production.
While solar cells do contain toxic materials, they’re still above and beyond the most environmental source of energy available. Solar energy produces no pollution when generating power.
Gas is a non-renewable resource, and its cost is directly affected by how much of it is available for exploitation. So whenever oil production is threatened, prices can quickly skyrocket in relation to its high demand, affecting energy costs. The sun has been burning quite happily for several billion of years, and will continue to do so for five billion more at no cost whatsoever. This makes it a perfectly sustainable power source as far as human civilisation is concerned.
Did you know that the sun in one day produces over 120,000 terawatts of energy? That’s enough to power the entire planet 2000 times over. And solar cells are constantly being improved to harness this energy.
- Easy to maintain.
Solar panels have no moving or complicated parts, and as such as very low-maintenance. The most you’ll be required to do is clean the panels several times a year. Panels also usually come with a 20-25-year warranty, by the end of which they’d have already paid for themselves nearly twice over.
If you are looking into switching over your home to a solar energy source, it would definitely be in your best interest to seek an expert’s advice, such as those at Bob Heinmiller Solar.
- Christian Mills, a homeowner and freelance writer is always seeking out the lasted trends in solar energy. If you would like to learn more about Chrsitian, you can check out his google+ profile.