Just like electricity, solar power can be used to run most household electrical appliances. Given that electricity bills seem to be always on the rise, many people are considering going off-grid and using solar power for their household energy.
It’s superficially evident that solar energy is a feasible alternative to grid electricity. However, you’d want to know the pros and cons of using solar power at home before you make the decision to partially or fully go off-grid. Read below for details:
Currently, the US alone produces enough solar electricity to power 12.3 million homes. There must be a reason why so much effort is being put into harvesting solar energy. Here are some of these reasons:
1. Saves You Money
You probably use electrical appliances like light bulbs, water heaters, iron boxes, coffee makers, sandwich makers, and the like. The more appliances you use in your home, the higher your electricity bill is going to be. This can prove to be costly, especially with the current inflation of prices.
However, with solar energy, you can use all appliances you wish to without worrying about the bills. But take note that you need some significant amount of money to purchase solar kits and pay a contractor for the design and installation of the solar system. The exact amount you pay depends on your desired capacity of the system.
The performance and durability of your solar system largely depend on the contractor you hire for the job. Ideally, you want to go for a company with vast professional experience in installing solar systems around your area of residence.
This way, you’re sure that they fully understand your area’s climate and can design a system with optimal energy conversion rates for that particular area. So, if you’re looking to install a solar system, make sure to consult reliable solar installation companies, such as https://www.smartsolarenergyco.com/solar-panels-salem-oregon/.
Once you install your solar panels, you can enjoy free electricity for the entire lifespan of the panels, which is typically about 30 years. Solar systems, being stationary, are rarely affected by the usual wear and tear that grip moving machine parts experience. Therefore, you won’t spend a fortune on repair and maintenance procedures.
2. Renewable Source Of Energy
You can’t drain the sun of all its solar energy. To comfortably power your home for monthly electricity consumption of 877-kilowatt hours, you need between 21 and 34 solar panels, each rated 280 watts. To put things in perspective, this is just like drawing a drop of water from the ocean.
Understand that, the sun, in just one hour, emits more energy than the whole world uses in a whole year. In other words, solar power is enough to meet the energy needs of every family on earth. In addition, the supply of solar energy isn’t likely to dwindle any time soon. If the world exists for the next one thousand years, the sun will still be shining.
That’s what’s referred to as a renewable source of energy. For this reason, unlike electricity, there’s no need for rationing solar energy; you can use as much as you wish to.
3. Helps Conserve The Environment
Fossil fuels, which are the leading source of electric energy across the globe, are used to drive turbines for the generation of hydroelectric power. The major disadvantage of burning fossil fuels is the release of greenhouse gases. These contribute to global warming, whose negative impact on the environment you’re well aware of.
By using solar power, you play your part in the global environmental conservation efforts. You typically don’t need to burn any fuels for you to generate electricity from solar panels. That’s why solar power is popularly referred to as the cleanest form of energy.
Also, grid electricity involves cutting down trees for use as electricity poles, as well as to make room for the electric lines. This considerably adds to environmental degradation. This isn’t the case with solar power. All you only need is a clear rooftop to mount your solar panels.
4. Makes Good Use Of Underutilized Land
So far, several companies have set up solar farms in deserts neighboring large cities like those in California, US. The trend is likely to spill over to other vast desert lands across the world.
Such lands usually lie bare because the arid conditions don’t support economic activities, like agriculture. By setting up solar farms in these areas, such companies effectively put into use otherwise idle resources. Additionally, if you get your electricity from such solar farms, you can take pride in being part of the drive to effectively utilize natural resources.
5. Gives You Full Control
Electric companies can operate as monopolies since they may be the only providers of electricity in a given area. Having no competition, they can always get away with malpractices, like unexplained power cuts and poor customer relations. Even though this hurts, there’s usually nothing you can do about it.
This is, however, not the case with solar energy since you have full control of your power supply. As long as you produce enough electricity, no third party can cut off your supply without your consent. Also, you have the liberty to upgrade the system as often as you like.
6. It’s Available Everywhere
The sun is available to everyone in virtually every country in the world. So, whatever part of the world you build your home in, you can always use solar power. It’s only the intensity of solar energy that varies. But you have the option of using more solar panels to step up electricity production in areas that get a few hours of sunlight.
This is unlike other sources of energy. For instance, to use wave energy, you must be adjacent to an ocean, and not every country borders an ocean. To use hydroelectric power, you need to build a dam along a permanent river, and you know that not all regions of the world have rivers flowing through them. To use nuclear energy, your country must be endowed with adequate uranium deposits.
Essentially, solar power stands out because of its omnipresence.
Like every other energy source, solar power has a few downsides, like the following:
1. Production Fluctuates With Weather Conditions
The rate of conversion of solar energy into electricity is dependent on the weather. Experts have so far established that solar panels need daylight to generate electricity and not direct sunlight. Even so, overcast days affect the intensity of daylight, reducing the amount of electricity produced by solar cells.
In places that experience long winters, short days, and long nights, the production of solar power can significantly go down. However, with a properly designed system and enough battery capacity, you can still make use of the little sunlight and store enough solar electricity to meet all your energy needs.
2. High Initial Cost
Initial costs include designing the solar system, purchasing solar panels, batteries, and inverters. Also, you must have them installed by a professional. The money you invest is usually enough to pay electricity bills for about three to five years. Once you break even, you’re set to enjoy free solar energy.
To cut on costs, you can opt to use solar energy directly without storing it, but this means you won’t be able to use electricity at night unless you have another source of energy for the night.
3. Complications When Shifting To A New House
Typically, you install a solar system in your home with the intention of living there for life. But unforeseen circumstances may arise and force you to shift to a new home. Moving the entire solar system to your new home isn’t that easy. In fact, having a completely new system may be cheaper for you than relocating the current system.
If not done properly, the process of disassembling the solar kit could result in damage to critical components. Also, since the solar panels are anchored with brackets drilled on the roof, removing the brackets leaves holes on the roof, which makes you incur additional costs for repairing the damaged roof.
The rate of conversion of solar energy into power is usually low. For residential houses, the average conversion efficiency is between 17% and 19%. This figure could be a bit lower for low-end solar panels and slightly higher for high-end solar panels. That’s how much solar energy technology can provide.
This means you need to have several solar panels in order to adequately meet your energy demands. This translates to huge cash investment and large space requirements. However, with technological advances being made daily, the conversion efficiencies are likely to improve in the future.
Solar energy remains a feasible alternative for your home energy needs. Weigh the pros and cons discussed above so you can make an informed decision. If you feel the pros outweigh the cons, go ahead and start consulting a solar contractor. You’ll also need to consider these factors before installing rooftop solar panels.