10 Solar Energy Facts & Myths You Need to Know

By Ygrene on February 6, 2017

The concept of harnessing the sun’s energy to create power is undoubtedly appealing. Homeowners who install solar on their rooftop or property can offset their energy usage, enjoy savings on their electric bill, and contribute to a greener, healthier planet. While solar panels have their drawbacks too, there is a wealth of misinformation surrounding photovoltaic (PV) or solar electric panels.

Here are 10 commonly held myths about solar panels and the truths behind them:

1. Solar Panels Don’t Work in Cold, Cloudy Climates

Perhaps the biggest myth causing people to dismiss solar power is the belief that panels won’t work in cold weather or on cloudy days. The truth is, solar panels do not require direct sunlight – they need ultraviolet (UV) light. If you have ever gotten sunburned on a cloudy day, you know that UV rays easily penetrate cloud cover. Ranked the top country in the world for solar power, Germany is notoriously cloudy with cold winters. Clearly, solar power remains successful throughout the nation, comparable in size to New Mexico. In fact, solar electric engineers have found that PV panels actually conduct electricity more efficiently in milder weather.

2. Solar Panels and Systems Are Difficult to Maintain

All reputable solar panel manufacturers and installers provide extended warranties, meaning they cover the cost of repairs if something goes wrong with the system. The average warranty is 25 years – more than the amount of time needed to recoup the costs associated with installation. It can often be worthwhile to choose a more expensive option if the company provides a better warranty than a lower-priced competitor.

3. Solar Panels Are Not Very Efficient

The efficiency of solar panels continues to improve. Thanks to continual research and development, PV panels are now about four times more efficient than they were in the early days of development during the 1970s. Most people are unaware of these advances – they have mental images of past solar car races across the desert with the vehicles inching along at 20 miles per hour. These races still sometimes take place. However, there is one shining example of how much solar has developed: one recent solar-powered trip was not taken in a car but in a solar-powered airplane.

4. Solar Power Is Inconsistent

It is true that the sun doesn’t always shine, for example at night. However, battery storage is changing the solar landscape. More of today’s off-grid solar PV systems include battery storage to store electricity for later use – such as at night. As battery technology improves, the price of storage continues to fall, making sun-harnessed energy more consistent than ever and ensures power will remain on if a grid outage occurs. To illustrate the boost in consistency, some of the world’s most essential safety systems are powered by solar energy: airport warning lights, railroad crossing lights, and warning buoys at sea.

5. Solar Homes Are Completely Off the Grid

Apart from very rural areas, solar homes remain connected to the local power grid. This connectivity enables the homeowner to save money through an arrangement called “net metering.” In most states, houses with solar PV systems are permitted to feed any excess energy produced by the panels back into the electrical grid, where it is used to provide power to other houses in the neighborhood. In return for the excess energy, the power company “repays” solar system owners in the form of credits on their electricity bill. Therefore, net metering works as a storage system of sorts, allowing homeowners to continue receiving sun-powered energy even after the sun goes down. The daytime surplus can even pay for any after-dark energy from the grid.

6. A Solar Power System Will Hurt a Home’s Equity

Some homeowners are worried that solar might prohibit the future sale of a home. However, the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) reveals that homes with solar PV sold 20 percent faster than comparable grid-only dwellings in the same areas. Also, the sale price for homes with panels was 17 percent higher than non-solar houses. In times when energy prices are high, the ability to promote lower electricity costs than the neighbors is a major selling point.

7. Solar Panels Are Too Expensive

Since 2008, the cost of solar panels has dropped by 80 percent. There are also leasing options that allow homeowners to take advantage of the energy savings associated with solar power for no upfront costs through property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing. PACE is a special tax that enables property owners to finance renewable energy, water conservation and efficiency improvements for no money down. The project is then paid back over time as a line item on your annual property tax bill. An alternative to credit-based financing, many property owners find that they can better afford alternative energy systems with PACE, while the payments remain attached to the physical property, not with the homeowner.

8. Solar Power Still Isn’t Developed Enough

It is true that improvements in the field of solar energy will continue. However, researchers have made great strides over the past few decades, especially over the last decade, when it comes to battery storage and panel efficiency. While future improvements are inevitable, they will likely be less dramatic than the developments that have taken place in the recent past.

9. Recouping Costs Will Take a Long Time

Solar energy is a long-term investment. However, net metering provides immediate savings due to credits on your monthly electricity bill. And, as solar power technology continues to develop, solar system owners will see a faster payback and a sooner point of breaking even on their investment. The average return on investment for solar PV is 15% more than the cost of the project – and that account for any increases in a home equity.

10. Solar Panels Are Bad for the Roof

Solar panels protect the portion of the roof they cover. Because of the system’s tilt, any ice and snow accumulation will slide off the panels as they warm. This phenomenon means that the shingles under the panel are not be exposed to ice damage. The panels are mounted on the roof using metal flashing, which helps prevent any leaking from precipitation. Furthermore, high-quality solar panels can be removed in the event of any necessary roof repairs.

Once homeowners have the proper understanding of solar power, they can find the right setup for their home. There are also options for funding such an upgrade that can make it possible for almost any property owner to install panels and enjoy the benefits of living partially or entirely “off the grid.”

Interested in solar? PACE can help you finance your system and enjoy the advantages of clean, renewable energy. Contact Ygrene to learn more: (855) 901-3999; info@ygreneworks.com.