Top 8 Solar Energy Myths

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Solar energy is a fast-growing and emerging industry that is still on the cusp of its most significant breakthrough. The success of solar has caused opponents to create widely circulated solar energy myths that are outdated or entirely false. Let’s debunk those misconceptions and show why solar is a great bet for your energy needs.

Myth 1: “When it’s cloudy, solar panels stop working.”

One of the big points always thrown out by opponents, clouds can impact solar panel production. However, it is a solar panel myth that they stop working altogether. The clouds would have to block out enough sunlight where it was pitch dark, which doesn’t happen on the most overcast of days. Solar panels continue to generate energy when it’s cloudy.

Solar panels’ efficiency remains the same these days, but the output generated can be reduced by 60% up to 80%. You see, radiation and photons, which is what solar runs on, are still making their way to the Earth’s surface. When your solar system is spec’d out, that annual output number considers how many cloudy days on average your area receives. Some of the cloudiest places on the planet, the UK, Germany, etc., are world leaders in solar generation. They do it with fewer solar hours in the day than California gets (almost three to four fewer hours per day on average). Despite any clouds or intermittency, your system will produce what you were promised by the end of the year while supplying your needs every day.

Myth 2: “Solar panel systems will never pay for themselves.” 

For this solar energy myth, we’ll let the math and experience speak for themselves. If you ask any solar system owner, they can tell you first hand of the fast paybacks. Switching to solar makes most people more aware of their home’s consumption, so they alter their energy behaviors to decrease their peak-time demand. It becomes a lifestyle. That is not necessary, although it is recommended, and will lessen the time it takes for your system to have an ROI. Let’s talk about the averages, and remember Californians are on the better side of the spectrum due to their location.

The usual payback period for most homeowners is anywhere between 4-6 years. Businesses can see a faster payback period, approximately three years. Keep in mind that a solar system’s lifespan is generally 20+ years, so that gives homeowners at least 14 years, usually 20 years exactly, of extra money in their pocket. Additionally, manufacturers, and some installers, offer a 12-25 year warranty on their products and services. That’s not bad at all!

Even if your solar system positioning is not the best, you can expect close to these numbers.

Myth 3: “Solar panels damage your roof.” 

Nothing could be farther from the truth. Any points of roof penetration are sealed and use “flashing” to prevent water infiltration. The solar panels themselves act as a second roof. Standard solar regulations require these practices. Even in areas prone to hurricanes, laws dictate that installs must withstand at least 135mph wind speeds using special racking equipment. This equipment is not even noticeable since it is under the panels.

Besides protecting your roof, panels shade it, decreasing the heat that can get into your attic, acting as an insulator to lessen cooling loads for your A/C unit. Panels are also easy to remove for any roof repair that you made need due to unforeseen circumstances, like a branch falling, etc.

Myth 4: “Solar installs are intense and require a lot of maintenance.”

Solar installations are straightforward and do not require complex processes. They are so simple that some people make them a DIY project. We don’t recommend that because of the hassle with permitting and inspections, and especially the risk of electrocution or falling off the roof. Still, even with that in mind, the technology is simplistic. The most elaborate feature is doing the math to estimate your home’s energy load, which isn’t even that much. 

Whether grid-tied or stand-alone, solar systems are easy to maintain and usually have services provided by installers to do annual checkups as a part of your agreement. Stand-alone may have some extra cleaning involved, but for most owners, the only thing they may need to do is hose off the panels themselves to remove dust. That’s it. Solar panels are very reliable and durable to withstand harsh weather, including hail, sleet, etc. They really are a “set it and forget it” kind of thing.

Myth 5: “Solar panels are harmful to the environment.”

This unwarranted claim heralds from fossil fuel lobbyists and companies. They try to say that solar panels’ manufacturing is energy-intensive, has toxic byproducts, and rapidly depletes the world’s silicon supply. Older panels, like the obsolete thin-film or ‘amorphous’ solar panels, used gases in them that were toxic. These panels are outdated and never used since the vast advancements in the more efficient silicon crystalline solar cells used today. So, no toxins leaking out of systems and creating pollution like you may have heard.

The only thing that could be considered toxic in a solar system is the solder’s lead content, which isn’t that much and is currently phasing out. Most panels haven’t hit their 25-year lifespan yet, but that hasn’t stopped the industry from creating solar panel recycling companies prepared to handle the upcoming recycles. Manufacturers are continually pushing for more sustainable products to grant longer lifespans. 

Let’s not forget why we are going to solar. These small byproducts in solar manufacturing and recycling are a drop in the bucket compared to fossil fuel energy users. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) of the United States Department of Energy conducted research and reported that the average household can reduce their harmful output of toxins created by their energy use to more than half a ton of SO2, one-third of a ton of NOx, and 100 tons of CO2 over their system’s 20-year lifespan.

Myth 6: “Solar panels hurt my home’s resale value.”

Solar panels actually increase home values. Zillow found that homes with solar energy systems see a 4.1% higher sales value than traditional homes. Another study conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory found that homes with PV systems had a $15,000 higher value than those without systems.

Myth 7: “Solar energy owners make energy more expensive for everyone else.”

The more solar energy owners we have, the more reduced the peak demand will be on electrical grids and utility companies. More people owning solar actually “destress” the entire national grid. Solar can be a buffer for population and municipal growth, causing energy demand not linearly to increase with the influx of people. This fact will diminish the need for utility companies to install larger transmission lines, install upgrades to their grid, and grow their capacity. Some companies have the archaic mindset to increase their capacity with fossil fuels to match solar generation. They claim it is prudent, but it’s rubbish. Their biggest challenge is managing all the extra energy obtained from solar systems on their network. They will get to harness and resell it to their non-solar energy customers at a regular price.

Myth 8: “Solar is unreliable due to its intermittency issues.”

This is another solar panel myth created by naysayers and the fossil fuel industry. Yes, there is some intermittency with solar systems. Still, all the energy not used daily can support any low producing days. If power companies install their own solar arrays to use, they will have to make sure it doesn’t hinder their distribution. However, they currently have enough to handle their current loads with fossil fuels. Therefore, solar-generated energy is just icing on the cake. 

There are several ways for homeowners to offset low-producing days or continue to use solar-generated power at night. You convert your system to a stand-alone or “off-grid” system. Now, you may have some switches to throw from time to time, but you can make it where you have the backup you need from the grid while using mostly solar most days. 

Utility-scale solar can use CSP systems that will generate and store solar energy to offset any lack. These naysayer arguments can be easily planned for, making them both moot points.

Solar panel myths cannot hide the facts anymore, nor stop millions of people from enjoying their benefits. You can start your solar energy adventure with expert service and installation from Option One Solar.

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