Solar panels have become increasingly popular in recent years as a way to harness the power of the sun and reduce reliance on non-renewable energy sources.
However, there are some things that solar panel companies may not tell you about this technology.
In this article, we will explore some of the lesser-known aspects of solar panels and solar energy.
One thing that solar panel companies may not tell you is that not every home is a good candidate for solar energy.
While solar panels can be a great investment for many homeowners, there are some factors to consider before making the switch.
For example, homes with roofs that are heavily shaded or that face the wrong direction may not be able to generate enough solar power to make the investment worthwhile.
Homes with roofs that are too steep (like my own) also aren’t great candidates for solar panels.
Additionally, homes with older electrical systems may need to be upgraded in order to accommodate solar panels.
Another thing that solar panel companies may not mention is that maintenance can be a concern. While solar panels are generally low-maintenance, they do require some upkeep in order to continue functioning at peak efficiency.
For example, panels may need to be cleaned periodically in order to remove dirt and debris that can block sunlight.
Additionally, homeowners may need to replace the inverter, which is the component that converts the DC electricity generated by the panels into AC electricity that can be used in the home.
Understanding Solar Panels
Solar panels are devices that convert sunlight into electricity. They are made up of photovoltaic (PV) cells that are connected together to form a panel. When sunlight hits the panels, it creates an electric field that allows electrons to flow, generating electricity.
Solar panels are a key component of solar energy systems. They are often installed on rooftops or in open fields to capture sunlight and generate electricity. Solar energy is a renewable energy source that is becoming increasingly popular as a way to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and lower carbon emissions.
There are two main types of solar panel technology: monocrystalline and polycrystalline.
Monocrystalline solar panels are made from a single crystal of silicon, while polycrystalline solar panels are made from multiple crystals. Monocrystalline panels are generally more efficient, but also more expensive.
Polycrystalline solar panels are less expensive, but also less efficient.
Solar panels require sunlight to generate electricity, so their efficiency can be affected by factors such as shading, temperature, and weather conditions.
However, many solar panels are designed to be durable and efficient workhorses, and can perform better than advertised. In fact, there’s a good chance your home solar panel system will create more power than your solar company guarantees.
Overall, solar panel technology has come a long way in recent years, and is becoming more accessible and affordable for homeowners and businesses alike.
As the technology continues to improve, solar energy is likely to become an even more popular and widespread energy source in the future.
The Environmental Impact
Solar panels are often touted as a clean and environmentally friendly source of energy. While it is true that solar energy does not produce harmful greenhouse gases, there are some environmental impacts associated with solar panel production, installation, and disposal.
Carbon Footprint and Pollution
The production of solar panels requires energy, which can result in carbon emissions. Additionally, the production process can create waste and toxic materials that can pollute the environment. According to a Harvard Business Review article, the manufacturing of solar panels can be energy-intensive and require the use of hazardous materials like lead and cadmium.
Water Usage and Toxic Waste
The production of solar panels can also require significant amounts of water. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the amount of water required can vary depending on the technology used. Additionally, the production process can create toxic waste that can contaminate soil and water sources.
Recycling and Lifespan
While solar panels have a long lifespan, they will eventually need to be disposed of or recycled. According to an EcoWatch article, the recycling process can be energy-intensive and create waste. Additionally, if solar panels are not disposed of properly, they can contribute to electronic waste and pollution.
Overall, while solar energy is a renewable energy source that does not produce greenhouse gases, there are some environmental impacts associated with solar panel production, installation, and disposal. It is important to consider these impacts when evaluating the environmental benefits of solar energy.
Cost and Financial Incentives
Solar panels are becoming increasingly popular as a source of renewable energy. However, one of the biggest concerns for homeowners is the initial cost of installing solar panels. According to a report by Angi, the average cost of a solar panel installation in the US ranges from around $18,000 to $35,000.
Initial Cost and Maintenance
While the initial cost of installing solar panels can be high, it is important to note that there are several long-term benefits that can make it a worthwhile investment. Solar panels can significantly reduce or even eliminate your monthly electricity bill, and they can also increase the value of your home.
It is also important to consider the maintenance costs associated with solar panels. While solar panels require very little maintenance, it is recommended that they are inspected and cleaned at least once a year to ensure optimal performance.
Tax Credits and Rebates
To help offset the initial cost of installing solar panels, there are several tax credits and rebates available. The federal government offers a solar tax credit that can cover up to 30% of the cost of installing solar panels. Additionally, many states and local governments offer their own tax credits and rebates.
It is important to research the specific tax credits and rebates available in your area, as they can vary widely. Some states offer incentives for installing solar panels on low-income households, while others offer incentives for installing solar panels on commercial buildings.
Leasing and Loans
For those who cannot afford the upfront cost of installing solar panels, there are several leasing and loan options available.
Leasing solar panels allows homeowners to rent the panels from a solar company, and pay a monthly fee for the use of the panels.
Beware the “bait and switch” here–the lease amount often means a huge electric bill that you’re “locked into” for potentially decades.
Another option is to take out a loan to finance the installation of solar panels. Many solar financiers offer loans specifically for solar panel installation, with competitive interest rates and flexible repayment terms.
Overall, while the initial cost of installing solar panels can be high, there are several financial incentives available to help offset the cost. It is important to research the specific incentives available in your area, and to consider the long-term benefits of installing solar panels.
Energy Efficiency and Performance
When it comes to solar panels, energy efficiency and performance are two key factors to consider. Solar panel efficiency ratings are currently between 15% to a maximum of 22% . The higher the efficiency rating, the more energy your panels are going to be able to produce. However, it is important to note that solar panels can get less efficient over time , so it is important to invest in high-quality panels that can withstand the test of time.
Sun Exposure and Power Output
The amount of sun exposure that solar panels receive can significantly impact their power output. Solar panels work by converting sunlight into usable energy, so it is important to ensure that they are installed in an area that receives plenty of sunlight. If solar panels are installed in a shaded area, they will not be able to produce as much energy as they would in a sunnier location.
Batteries and Power Outages
One of the main benefits of solar power is that it can provide electricity during power outages. However, this is only possible if the solar panels are connected to a battery backup system.
Solar batteries store excess energy generated by the panels during the day, which can be used to power your home at night or during a power outage.
It is important to choose a battery backup system that is compatible with your solar panels and can provide enough power to meet your needs.
Additionally, it is important to properly maintain your battery backup system to ensure that it continues to function properly.
When it comes to solar power, energy efficiency and performance are key factors to consider. By understanding how sun exposure and batteries can impact power output, you can make informed decisions about your solar panel system.
 Solar panel efficiency ratings, Solwiser.
 Solar Panels Get Less Efficient Over Time, CNET.
Legal Aspects and Permits
When it comes to installing solar panels, there are legal aspects and permits that homeowners need to be aware of.
These regulations vary from state to state, so it’s essential to check with the local government and utility company to ensure that your solar energy system meets specific electrical and building codes before it goes live.
I’d also strongly advise you to check with a lawyer licensed in your local jurisdiction who’s familiar with solar power laws and regulations before embarking on any solar power project.
Most states require permits for solar panel installation, and ignoring this directive has serious consequences.
Homeowners may face fines, legal action, or even have to remove the panels if they fail to obtain the necessary permits.
In addition to obtaining permits, homeowners should also be aware of any laws that may restrict or outlaw solar panel installation in their state.
For example, some states have laws that prohibit homeowners from installing solar panels due to aesthetic concerns or safety issues.
Kansas, for instance, had a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), but it was repealed in 2015 and replaced with a voluntary program. In 2019, the state tried to further penalize solar users by implementing a law that levied fines against solar users. While the law was passed, it was eventually struck by the state’s supreme court in 2020.
In some cases, homeowners may also need to seek approval from other entities, such as their homeowner’s association (HOA) or local building department. Each entity requires solar panel approval for different reasons. The local building department enforces municipality, county, or city regulations designed to protect residents and ensure safety protocols.
Overall, obtaining permits and complying with legal regulations are crucial steps in the solar panel installation process. Homeowners should check with their local government and utility company to ensure that they are following the necessary legal requirements before installing solar panels.
Impact on Home Value
Installing solar panels can be a great way to save money on energy bills and reduce carbon footprint. However, homeowners may wonder how solar panels affect the value of their home. According to a Zillow analysis, solar panels can raise a home’s value by 4.1% on average across the US, which translates to a boost of $9,274 on a $226,300 home.
However, the impact of solar panels on home value can vary depending on several factors, such as location, size of the solar panel system, and the age of the panels. For instance, homes located in areas with high electricity rates may see a greater increase in value than those in areas with lower rates.
On the other hand, transferring a solar lease may require a credit check, which could delay the sale of the home if the buyer doesn’t qualify, according to a Market Watch article.
Moreover, solar panels may not always increase the value of the home as much as the cost of installing the system. According to a Forbes article, the cost of installing a solar panel system may not always be fully recouped when the home is sold.
Overall, solar panels can have a positive impact on home value, but the exact amount varies depending on several factors. Homeowners should carefully consider the costs and benefits of installing solar panels before making a decision.
Choosing a Solar Provider
When it comes to solar energy, choosing the right provider is crucial. A reputable solar provider will help you navigate the process of going solar, from selecting the right system to installation and maintenance. Here are a few things to consider when selecting a solar provider:
- Experience and Reputation: Look for a solar provider with a proven track record of success. Check online reviews and ask for references to ensure that the company you choose has a reputation for quality work and customer service.
- Certifications and Licenses: Make sure that the solar provider you choose is licensed and certified to install solar systems in your area. This will help ensure that your system is installed safely and up to code.
- System Design and Customization: A good solar provider will work with you to design a system that meets your specific energy needs and budget. They should also offer a range of products and financing options to help make solar energy more accessible.
- Warranty and Maintenance: Look for a solar provider that offers a comprehensive warranty on their products and installation. They should also provide ongoing maintenance and support to ensure that your system continues to operate at peak efficiency.
- Price and Value: While price is certainly an important consideration, it should not be the only factor when choosing a solar provider. Look for a company that offers competitive pricing and good value for your investment.
By taking the time to research and select the right solar provider, you can feel confident that you are making a smart investment in renewable energy.
Whether you are a homeowner, business owner, or candidate for solar energy, a reputable solar provider can help you achieve your energy goals.
The Fine Print
When it comes to solar panels, there are a few things that solar companies may not tell you upfront. It’s important to read the fine print before signing any contracts or agreements. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Most solar panels come with two warranties: an equipment warranty and a performance production warranty.
The equipment warranty covers any defects or malfunctions in the panels themselves, while the performance production warranty guarantees a certain level of energy production over a specified period of time.
It’s important to read the details of these warranties carefully, as they can vary from company to company.
While solar panels are designed to last for decades, their performance can degrade over time.
It’s important to understand how the performance warranty works and what it covers.
Some warranties guarantee a certain level of energy production for the first few years, but then decrease over time.
Others may only cover defects in the panels, but not a decrease in performance.
The Fine Print
When it comes to free solar panel offers, it’s important to read the fine print carefully.
While the panels themselves may be free, there may be other costs involved, such as installation fees or maintenance costs.
It’s also important to understand what happens if you decide to sell your home. Some contracts may require you to pay off the remaining balance of the solar panel system before you can transfer ownership of the home.
Overall, it’s important to do your research and read the fine print before making any decisions about solar panels.
If you’re worried about “getting got” by a solar power company, definitely consult a lawyer familiar with solar power contracts in your jurisdiction.
By understanding the details of the warranties and contracts, you can make an informed decision that is right for you and your home.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if solar panels are right for me?
Determining if solar panels are right for you depends on several factors. Some of the most important considerations include the amount of sunlight your home receives, the cost of electricity in your area, and the available incentives and rebates.
To make an informed decision, you should research the potential benefits and drawbacks of solar panel installation and consult with a qualified solar panel installer.
What are the potential downsides to installing solar panels?
While solar panels can help reduce your electricity bills and lower your carbon footprint, there are also some potential downsides to consider.
For example, solar panels can be expensive to install, and the upfront costs may not be recouped for several years.
Additionally, solar panels may not be suitable for all homes, particularly those with shaded or pitched roofs or limited sunlight. It’s important to carefully weigh the pros and cons before making a decision.
Are there any safety concerns with solar panels?
Solar panels are generally safe and pose little risk to homeowners. However, it’s important to ensure that your solar panel installation is performed by a qualified professional and that all wiring and components are properly installed and maintained.
Additionally, homeowners should exercise caution when performing maintenance or cleaning on their solar panels, as they can be slippery and may pose a fall hazard.
What are the most common complaints against solar panel companies?
Some common complaints against solar panel companies include misleading sales tactics, poor customer service, and subpar installation work.
For example, I had a “big solar” company come and pitch me on one of their new systems.
Not only was my roof going to be only “34% efficient” (meaning the shape would only allow me to capture 34% of the solar power hitting my house), but they were going to lock in an electric bill of $550 per month every month!
The salesman acted like this is “no big deal–it’ll be cheap once the price of energy starts going up!”
Uh… no thanks.
To avoid these issues, it’s important to research potential solar panel installers and read reviews from previous customers.
Additionally, homeowners should carefully review any contracts or agreements before signing, and ensure that all work is performed to their satisfaction.
What should I know before buying solar panels?
Before buying solar panels, it’s important to consider several factors, including the cost of installation, the amount of sunlight your home receives, and the available incentives and rebates.
You should also research potential solar panel installers and read reviews from previous customers.
Additionally, it’s important to carefully review any contracts or agreements before signing, and ensure that all work is performed to your satisfaction.
How can I avoid scams when purchasing solar panels?
To avoid scams when purchasing solar panels, it’s important to research potential installers and read reviews from previous customers.
Additionally, you should be wary of any installers who pressure you into signing a contract or offer deals that seem too good to be true.
Like I mentioned above, if they tell you you’re going to be “locked in” at a super high monthly rate, that’s a huge red flag.
Always carefully review any contracts or agreements before signing, and ensure that all work is performed to your satisfaction.