Pros and Cons - Solar Energy for Residential Homes

Solar power is a environmentally-friendly energy alternative for residential households. For the average homeowner, though, it may be too expensive to install a solar collector, a battery bank and a charge controller even though the system will more than pay for itself in a few years. Before jumping into a large installation, weigh the pros and cons; solar energy systems can be pricey so you will need to determine if it's right for you.

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The Pros of Using Solar Energy

  • No pollution. There is an inexhaustible supply of solar power and it doesn't release any pollution, exhaust or toxic waste into the environment. Solar energy can greatly reduce a home's carbon dioxide footprint.

  • Saves money in the long run. Since you'll be reducing or eliminating your commercial energy use, your energy bills will be drastically reduced for years to come. After all, sunshine is free.

  • Promotes conservation. To reduce the initial cost of the solar power system, smaller power systems can be installed if households reduce their energy usage. More efficient appliances, lighting, and doing small things like turning off unused electronics and lights can cut energy requirements by almost 30%.

  • You can start small. Solar power systems can be installed incrementally. You can start with a passive heating system or an electrical system for daytime use only. As your requirement and enthusiasm grows, you can increase the size and capacity of the system (for example, by adding solar panels and batteries).

  • Less maintenance & less noise. Solar power systems do not have any moving parts. Compared to other alternative energy systems, it also requires less maintenance (except for keeping the solar panels clean) and doesn't create noise or hazards like the rotating blades of a wind turbine.

The Cons of Using Solar Energy

  • Limited by the available sunlight. Solar energy is only available during day when the sun is shining. When the skies are overcast or when cloud pass overhead, the efficiency of solar collectors drop to almost nil.

  • High initial cost. High equipment and installation costs make it cost prohibitive for most households to go 100% solar. This high cost is why there is currently a lack of support for solar power among consumers, even though interest is high and solar power is growing in popularity. The technology is not yet mature enough to provide mass-market affordability.

  • High retrofitting costs. In most situations, it's more expensive to install solar equipment in an existing building than in a new structure. Walls, roofs and ceilings need to be opened and there may not be adequate space for all of the equipment and wire.

  • Aesthetics. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and communities may not be too favorable to the sight of a solar collector on or near your home. For example, even the use of solar roof tiles may be objectionable to neighborhoods because it doesn't "fit in" with the overall aesthetic of the community.

The initial investment in solar power is quite high for the average residential homeowner, but the savings over the years would eventually more than pay for the original cost. Consider the pros and cons - solar energy is a promising new alternative energy source, and one that will allow families to live "greener."