Go Solar Now! A look at the advantages and disadvantages of solar energy.
This one goes out to all the people that didn't know already... To the people that are curious, the people that want to know more, And of course to the people that are about to make the switch and just need a little push in the right direction.
So if you live in America, then you've probably heard the term renewable energy.. But what does that mean exactly? Well Dictionary.com says that renewable energy is any naturally occurring, theoretically inexhaustible source of energy, as biomass, solar, wind, tidal, wave, and hydroelectric power, that is not derived from fossil or nuclear fuel... So in a nutshell its any energy source that we can continue to use " theoretically " FOREVER. Something that we wont run out of. As I'm sure you may have realized, We will eventually run out fossil fuels and other fuels like it. So in my eye's, The switch to a renewable energy source is inevitable in the future whether you believe in climate change or not. And there are several renewable energy sources being used today. So lets talk about what I believe to be the most common and well know... SOLAR ENERGY, and some of the advantages and disadvantages associated with it.
1. Energy Costs
Weather you're still tied to the grid or completely off grid, Solar energy will save you money in the long run. Yes, solar systems do cost more at first but quality solar systems last a very long time. Several reputable solar companies offer 20 to 30 year warranties on there products. So if your completely off grid, you've got your initial start up cost. That's for +- 30 years of essentially free energy. That sounds like a good deal to me and leads us to our next advantage.
2. Virtually No Upkeep Costs
Solar systems really don't require that much maintenance. This is because a solar system is in a solid state. Solar panels don't have any moving parts and neither do the other components associated with the system. There are only 2 parts that need regular maintenance. Your Inverter and your cables. Your inverter is constantly working hard to convert the energy your solar panels have gathered into usable energy for your appliances, so you can generally expect to replace these every 5 to 10 years. Your cables need to be checked periodically for nicks and tears which could restrict energy flow and reduce the efficiency of your system. Other then that, the only maintenance that is required is a good wipe down of the panels themselves a few times a year so they can continue to soak up all that sunny goodness as efficiently as possible.
3. Several Applications
Believe it or not, Solar energy has been around for a long time. The effect of the sun's energy being able to generate electricity was actually discovered in 1839 by Alexandre Edmond Becquerel. Since then, Solar applications have been becoming more diverse by the day it seems. Especially in the last 15 years. The industry seems to be growing exponentially. There is a solar application for almost everything these days. I remember when I was a kid seeing those little solar cells on my calculator in school and thinking "why cant I string a whole bunch of these together". Now we see solar panels powering street lights, on rooftops, powering entire off grid communities, and even attached to space telescopes and the rovers that are driving around on other planets, making new scientific discoveries every day. There are institutes designing see-through solar windows and solar shingles. The technology is being pushed in every possible direction which leads to competition among companies which in turn keeps costs competitive for consumers like you and I.
4. Truly Renewable Energy
So we covered it earlier. What renewable energy actually means. What it is by definition.... And as far as solar goes, It is Truly 100 percent renewable. We will never run out of it. Of course the sun wont be around forever. Nothing lasts forever... But when the sun stops shining, I think we'll have bigger fish to fry then keeping our cell phones charged... The sun hits every part of the globe at some point or another. There are obviously some areas where solar is more efficient and I wouldn't count Alaska among one of those places... But.. Generally solar applications are efficient alternative around the majority of the globe. And an added bonus, there is no greenhouse gasses emitted or harmful effects to the environment caused from the processing of solar energy. And that really is the best part about it... Isn't it??
So We've talked about some of the great things that solar energy has to offer, Some of the benefits from switching to solar, but with good there is always bad, and I wouldn't quite feel right if we didn't discuss both sides of the coin. But trust me, bad is an overstatement...
Lets start out with the disadvantage that everyone is soo worried about. The cost... Yes it is true, Building a complete system to power your home can get pricey. But it's worth it it the long run, and a system will pay for itself over time... There are always different options for purchasing a complete solar system, and if you install it yourself you will save a ton on installation. ( If you go this route, be sure to leave the wiring to a professional electrician ) A system composed of reliable components will easy last you 20 to 25 years, and should last much longer. Also, there are solar tax credits offered that can save you a ton if you are eligible. So for the price of a used car you could have electricity for the next 20 to 30 years with minimal upkeep. I can settle for that....
2. Space Consuming
I'm not sure if you've ever helped install a solar panel before, But.... Some of them can be pretty big. They take up allot of space, and to power an entire house off the grid, You typically have to have quite a few of them ( depending on your energy consumption needs ). This is why people typically put them on the roof of their house. It's wasted space.. But in some cases, you can't put them on your roof due to the position of the sun in the sky. Sometimes you just don't get enough sunlight on your roof. This is the case for my house. My house is positioned more or less from north to south. One side of my house gets enough sun to efficiently collect energy and the other side gets basically none... This is definitely something to consider before making the switch..
3. Affected By The Weather
Solar panels need the sun to collect energy, and if you were in doubt, they don't collect energy at night.... Sad.... Yes I know. But it IS true that they will still collect energy on cloudy or rainy days. However, that doesn't mean that they collect it efficiently. If you live in Seattle... Solar might not be the best renewable energy solution for you.. A few cloudy/ rainy days could have a noticeable effect on your system. That's why it is best to always oversize your system. An over sized system can give you the extra push you need when the weather just wont give in.
And that's the list! as always there's up's and down's to everything.Got any positives or negatives not on the list?? Share some of your personal experiences below..
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As Always... Thanks again, and be happy
- Joshua Powers