In these economic times, it just makes sense to look for ways to save money now and in the foreseeable future. Electrical service suppliers all across the country are warning us that the rates are going up, even during these tough economic times. So lets take a moment to consider the Pros and Cons of solar energy…
The Pros are:
- Energy from the sun is virtually free to use, at least once you have installed the solar panels
- The Solar Federal tax credit may cover up to 30% of the installation costs up through 12/31/2016.
- This type of power reduces your carbon footprint.
- You might be able to sell the excess power you produce to your electrical supplier, thereby, reducing or eliminating your electric service bill.
- As long as the sun is not blocked by shade, solar energy can be generated anywhere, even if there is no electric service provider available.
- Once a solar system is installed you are not affected by an increase in prices from the electrical supplier.
- Fuel ‘supply and demand’ is no longer an issue because systems powered by the sun do not require any fuel other than light and/or heat.
- Once a solar system is installed, the savings are immediate and for many years to come.
- Solar systems are virtually maintenance free and will last for many years to come, even decades.
The Cons are:
- Solar systems are expensive to install.
- Solar panels can take up a lot of space.
- Solar systems require a storage system because they do not work at night.
- Power from the sun is not as efficient in bad weather and may be affected by pollution.
- Your roof has to be at a specific angle to the sun, and if it isn’t your installation may be less effective, or even impossible.
Solar thermal technologies collect the sun’s heat. Both residential and commercial applications use this type of thermal collector to heat spaces, and heat water.
Applications of solar thermal technologies include:
- Pool heaters, space heaters and water heaters use this type of low temperature collector.
- Water heaters, cooking, disinfecting, distillation and desalination of water use what is known as a medium temperature collector.
- Solar power towers, dish designs, heat engines and Fresnel reflectors and lenses use a high temperature collector.
Photovoltaics is the technology that is in fact what most people are referring to when they refer to “solar energy”. Photovoltaics (aka PV) technology converts light energy directly into an electric current. This power may be used immediately, or stored in some sort of a device such as a battery and used later.
Applications of photovoltaics (PV) include:
- Photovoltaic power stations
- Photovoltaics integrated in buildings, such as roof tiles and roof panels
- Photovoltaics we are all familiar with; calculators, solar lighting, and emergency telephones
- Rural electrification for remote homes and businesses that are off the grid
When considering the Pros and Cons of solar energy it is important to take into account both the pros and the cons. And, remember the cost of a particular sun powered product and its installation may not be cost-effective when you consider the the potential savings associated with the product.
For more information check out the US Department of Energy.