Whenever solar energy is discussed amongst people not in the know, a lot of “information” is shared that is, unfortunately, outdated information. You will hear a lot of misleading solar myths, too. And let’s not leave out those incorrect “facts.” Sadly, this misinformation is detracting us from taking advantage of the numerous benefits we gain from solar energy. It’s time to shine the light on these mistakes—solar light, that is. Let’s review some of these erroneous edicts and set the record straight.
MYTH #1: “If it’s cold, cloudy, or snowy, solar panels are not going to work.”
The truth is, solar panels work with daylight not just direct sunlight. What happens is, light hits the solar panel and this excites the particles (electrons) which begin to move, thereby creating energy. This is a simplistic explanation, but it’s really all you need to know that even on cloudy days, it’s still daylight and the panels will work. This also explains why solar panels will continue to work even when the temperatures drop into the cold zone, since they do not require heat to work, just light. Believe it or not, solar panels seem work even better and more efficiently when the temps are cooler!
All you need to do is think about where solar technology is being used to realize it will work in winter temperatures and weather. Countries like Germany, the UK, Russia, and China all have winters—and they all are using solar to produce energy all year round.
MYTH #2: “Solar energy is not viable enough to justify its use.”
Some people are saying solar energy still needs more time to become viable. The International Energy Agency says differently. They state that solar power will be moving ahead of other energy sources like coal and nuclear within the next decade. We’re making leaps and bounds forward with the technology, so how long exactly has solar energy been in use?
The truth is, solar power has been around for a very long time. The biggest leap came in 1958 when the weather space satellite the Vanguard 1 was put into use. This spacecraft relied on solar power to handle the needs of the radios and other equipment. After this, technology in the solar power field advanced rapidly and has brought us to where we are today.
Solar energy is sweeping across America and the globe. At this point, the technology is so advanced, many people aren’t thinking twice about getting solar panels installed at their home or moving away from gas-powered generators to solar generators. Since solar generators do not create emissions and do not come with any fuel costs, the advantages are clear in both situations.
MYTH #3: “Getting solar for my home is too expensive.”
Since 2010, solar costs have fallen 82%. If you are looking to add a solar energy system to your home, they will cost you about $5,500 to $12,250 for 3kW to 8kW system. But here’s the catch: This is before you add in the incredible tax credits offered to homeowners who decide to go solar! And there are not just Federal incentives, your state and local governments may also offer breaks that are substantial. In many cases, installation costs can drop 50%. These incentives are there because governments have realized that producing electricity from solar is less expensive than producing it from coal or other sources.
MYTH #4: “It takes 25 years to break even with solar energy.”
The whole point of getting solar installed is to save money on electricity, since prices have skyrocketed in recent years. If a homeowner invests in a solar energy system, they will save money by using less electricity from the grid AKA power company. People believe that it will take decades to reach a positive ROI( Return On Investment), but the fact is, they are mistaken. Thanks to the tax breaks and credits that reduce your upfront costs, you can make back your initial investment in as little as four to six years. And since solar panels typically last 25 years or more, you’ll be in the green for many years to come.
MYTH #5: “Extra solar energy that the solar panels generate need to be stored in on-site batteries.”
One supposed turn-off in regards to solar home installations is the fear that large batteries will need to be installed somewhere on the property. Odds are, those batteries will be installed in the garage taking up valuable space. The fact is, most systems do not utilize a battery system. Instead, any excess power generated at your home is sent back to the power grid using a net power metering system. This system determines your power usage versus your power generation. If you produce more power than you are using, you will get electrical credits depending on how much additional energy you are sending back to the grid.
Basically, the power grid is your electricity “bank”. At night, you will need to draw from the “bank”. During the day, you will most likely be making “power deposits”. Many homeowners love this system and love the tiny amount they owe—if any—to the electric company each month.
MYTH #6: “If the grid goes down, we can still run our house from the solar panels.”
Unfortunately, if the power is out of the grid, odds are your house will be without power. Solar panels do not work in such a way that you can run your household devices and appliances directly from the solar panels. If this is a concern and you want to be able to have access to power in the event of a power outage, getting a backup battery system will be the way to go. This way, when the grid goes down, your home can run off of the batteries until the power returns.
If you prefer not to invest in an expensive battery system for your home, many people opt to have a backup generator on hand in such an emergency. Having a generator means you’ll be able to plug in appliances such as your refrigerator to keep your food safe and secure, along with being able to run lights and recharge devices.
MYTH #7: “Solar panels are going to reduce my home’s value.”
Believe it or not, most homeowners across the country believe they need to go solar! A recent survey by Forbes Home showed that 75% of respondents believe it is important to switch to solar within the next five years. Almost 50% are planning to install home solar panels in the future. Using logic, if your home is already equipped with solar panels, not only will it not reduce your home’s value, it will likely increase it. According to HUD, if your solar panels save $1000 on energy costs, the value of your home increases by $20,000. Talk about paying for itself, home solar installation is in a league of its own.
MYTH #8: “Not all US states offer solar panel installation incentives.”
Some people believe that the only states where solar is worth it—and the states are incentivizing accordingly—are Florida and California, and maybe Arizona. The truth is, looking at the weather of a state is the wrong way to determine if they have solar incentives. Currently, there are at least 34 states that offer some kind of solar energy break. Here’s a list of just a few states and some of their incentives:
- Colorado: Rebates from $400 to $3000 based on where you live in the state. No taxes on physical solar equipment. Any increases in your home’s value due to your solar energy system will not be subject to property tax.
- Indiana:Up to a $5000 return on your state income tax based on the cost of your solar system. And there are no sales taxes excised on solar equipment.
- Minnesota:No sales tax on equipment, saving close to 7%. Xcel Energy Program pays you $0.08 per kilowatt-hour of solar power production each year.
- Delaware: Make an extra $2500 over the lifetime of selling credits. Other power companies in the state offer cash rebates for their solar installation costs.
There are many more states with similar incentives. As you can see, many states understand the value of incentivizing residents to install solar panels and systems.
MYTH #9: “You won’t have any electricity overnight.”
I know, this sounds silly, and it is. By getting solar, you are not restricting your power usage when the sun goes down! Basically, your home is still using power from the city or municipality as normal. The only difference is, during the day, you’re using less power, or a net positive in power production, thanks to your solar panels. Although your solar panels will not be generating any electricity at night, you will be using power as non-solar homes would. It’s a give and take. During the day, when the sun is out, your solar panels will be sending power to the city. Then, at night, you’ll be using that power that you sent to the city. It’s a nice system to be a part of.
MYTH #10: “Motorized tracking systems that turn the panels to face the sun will give you optimum ROI.”
As we all know, the sun will move across the sky. If your solar panels are facing one way, it will only work the best when the sun is aimed right at them. This is simply a myth that needs to be debunked. Remember earlier when we talked about how solar panels work with light and not direct sunlight? It’s the same situation here. Even though the sun will only be directly in the view of your panels for certain hours, your panels will still generate electricity.
Although there are advantages to adding tracking devices to your solar panels, it can help you improve the efficiency of your solar panels. The cost is mostly prohibitive and generally not worth it. If you want to spend that money more efficiently, simply add some extra solar panels and increase your overall electrical production. You may even receive more financial rebates as a result.
MYTH #11: “Maintaining solar panels is expensive and labor intensive.”
This is untrue. The only maintenance involved with solar panels is to keep them free of debris. Since most solar panels are installed on the roof of your home, the odds of them needing any kind of maintenance is low. If you want, you can periodically hose them off, but if you get periodic rain, even this becomes unnecessary. Perhaps the best maintenance is to take a look at them and make sure they are clear of anything that might block the light. That’s it.
Again, since solar panels are installed on the roof, they are very weather-proof. And panels are made to last. Over the lifetime of your solar panels, they might lose about 5% efficiency, but this number is not a given. Many solar companies will install high quality panels that far outlive their 25 year warranty.
MYTH #12: “Installing solar panels in my roof is going to damage my home.”
The good thing is, solar panels are not directly attached to the roof of your home. They are installed on railings. They are installed in such a way that they can be removed easily for cleaning and replacement, if they are damaged in any way. Professional installers who know their trade will also add any additional roofing materials, such as flashings and sealants, as they are needed.
Solar panels are actually installed above your roof, and, in a sense, they protect your roof by covering them from direct sunlight, reducing deterioration. If your roof is currently in disrepair, it would be best to get your roof in tip top shape before installing your solar panels.
MYTH #13: “Solar panels are simply just bad for the environment.”
Thankfully, today’s solar panels and solar energy systems create solar power for many, many years. They have been found to long outlast the 25 year warranty for viability and use. Most companies are happy to take your old solar panels and recycle them, which is another positive. With the amount of fossil fuels saved by the use of solar panels, in the long run, going solar is the best thing we can do for the environment.
Your misconceptions about solar energy are understandable based on how prevalent these solar myths have been around. Thankfully, debunking these myths will help us move forward with solar and demonstrate that the time to take advantage of solar energy is now.