Even solar enthusiasts may find it challenging to keep up with the latest advances. It stands to reason that those against solar power often base their arguments on outdated or incorrect data.
Here are five common complaints and concerns about residential solar photovoltaic (PV) systems that don’t hold up under a careful examination of the facts.
I should note that the best way to determine if solar is right for you is to get a solar home assessment. Only a solar contractor can accurately provide that information.
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1. Residential solar power will never be cheaper than conventional electricity.
In the sunniest states like California and Arizona, and in states where the cost of coal-based electricity is higher, such as New York, solar power is expected to be cheaper than conventional power within the next five years. In Hawaii, it already is.
Installed costs for home solar is typically calculated per watt, while standard electricity is measured per kilowatt-hour. To avoid comparing apples to oranges, we must factor in the life of the solar panel system for an accurate comparison.
2. Solar power requires large tracts of land for solar farms.
Some people mistakenly assume that it takes large, centralized systems located in remote deserts for solar power to make a difference in the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels. As with almost every cultural revolution, real change comes from a bottom/up model.
In California alone, 52 percent of the state’s energy needs could be met by residential solar systems, according to a National Renewable Energy Laboratory report. Homeowners who install home solar systems are the real heroes of the green revolution.
3. Residential solar power installations are too expensive.
The upfront costs of a residential solar system has always been the biggest barrier to installing rooftop arrays, but a variety of financing options, solar rebates, and lower component prices have made home PV systems more affordable than ever.
Homeowners who still find the initial costs too high can often lease systems for little or no money down and immediately enjoy lower monthly utility bills.
4. The government is spending too much money on subsidies for solar power.
The federal incentive program for home solar systems can cover as much as 30 percent of your installation costs. Some people disapprove of such government programs, but it’s important to realize that every energy industry receives subsidies from the government.
In fact, no energy industry has ever thrived in the United States without subsidies. Fossil fuel subsidies are actually an astounding 13 times higher than renewable energy’s. A 2011 International Energy Agency report states that “Subsidies to renewables and low-carbon energy technologies can bring long-term economic and environmental benefits.”
5. Solar panels lower a home’s resale value.
The exact opposite is true. In a recent analysis conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research, researchers found that a home solar system adds between 3 percent and 4 percent to the value of a home during the first 10 years of the system’s life.
A study conducted early last year by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory also noted an increased resale value. In California, a home solar system fetched an average premium of $17,000 for a two-year-old 3.1-kilowatt system.
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