Is Solar Worth It?
Inspire Clean Energy
9 min read
category: Clean Energy 101
Pros, Cons, & Selling Energy Back To The Grid
Given the recent increase in awareness of our carbon footprint, many people are searching for ways to live more responsibly. From reducing our intake of single-use plastic or cutting out red meat, to cycling instead of driving, we’re all doing our bit to reduce the damage we do to our planet.
Thankfully, there are several types of sustainable or “renewable” energy sources we can choose from, such as wind energy, solar power, geothermal energy, and biomass energy to help us tackle one of the biggest parts of our footprint – our energy consumption. But that leads us to ask the question, is solar worth it?
If you are considering changing your energy provider to one that uses renewable energy sources, or even installing your own solar panels, you likely have questions about how to go about it and whether or not it is worth doing. This article will help to explain the pros and cons of installing your own solar panels, from a financial standpoint as well as environmentally and logistically. Of course, if you want to quickly take advantage of clean and renewable energy like solar, switching to Inspire takes just a few minutes - learn more by clicking the banner below.
What are the Disadvantages of Solar Panels?
In terms of it being a good source of sustainable energy, solar power has many advantages. It’s far less harmful to the planet than other energy sources. It is renewable, and if you live in a warm and sunny country, it’s pretty consistent.
However, there are certain disadvantages to it, such as the initial cost. While solar panels do earn back the money that was put into them over time, they are a significant investment for individuals. Most people simply do not have the money to fund the installation of solar panels on their own home. An easier and cheaper way to switch from non-renewable energy to renewable energy is to change your supplier to one that can offer solar power.
While it’s reliable over longer periods, solar power is very much a seasonal energy source, in that it is only available when the sun is shining. This can work very well for countries that receive a lot of daylight hours, such as the US. On the other hand, countries that are prone to short daylight hours, such as Iceland, may not fare so well with solar panels. For this reason, those living in Scandinavian countries may be more inclined to opt for wind power or hydropower.
Not all homes can comfortably accommodate the installation of solar panels, so this may pose another logistical problem. Most modern roofs are not big enough to house a system of solar panels, and if your home is in a particularly shady spot, you may not be able to take full advantage of solar panels. Of course if you live in a condo or apartment, you also won’t have the option.
Government subsidies aren’t large. How much money you’ll save on your installation changes with legislation and depending on whether your state offers additional incentives, but typically you’re only looking at $300-500 off your installation.
For this reason, it is much easier to switch utility providers, instead opting for a company that will provide 100% clean and renewable energy to your home. When you make the switch to renewable energy with Inspire, you don’t have to worry about whether or not you can afford the upfront investment of solar panels. To learn more about our clean energy membership, click here.
What is the Lifespan of a Solar Panel?
The life expectancy of solar panels is difficult to quantify as they are still relatively new as far as energy sources are concerned. Manufacturers typically offer a solar panel warranty with their installations of 20-25 years. Most of these manufacturers believe the solar panels will continue to work but at 80% of their original capacity. So, provided no natural disaster harms a panel, they could have a lifespan of 20-30 years.
How to Determine If Solar Power is Worth It
Solar power is, of course, worth it for the good it does for the planet. If you’re thinking about changing to a utility company that supplies solar power or installing your own solar panels, however, there are a few things you should consider.
- Do I plan to be in the property for the next 15+ years to make the installation worth it?
- Will solar powers enhance or ruin the beauty of my home? While modern homes suit solar panels, historical homes don’t.
- How much do I pay for electricity? The average cost of electricity is $130 a month – that means that if you get the average cost of a solar installation ($13,000), it will take you 100 months to pay off the panels before you actively start to save money on your bills. It’s also worth noting that if you use more than what your solar panel(s) produce, you’ll have to pay for that additional energy use.
- How much does the solar panel cost? Installations in different parts of the country will cost a different amount, so get a quote for how much an installation for your panel(s) would cost and use that to calculate if you’ll actually save money in the long term.
- How do I plan to finance my solar panel system? If you’ve had a windfall it may be the right decision, but if you’re paying it off for the next 10 years, you’re essentially replacing your electricity bill with another.
- Is you home positioned in a way where you’ll get the most for them? If you live in a heavily wooded part of up-state New York, you will find that you simply won’t get as much from your solar panel as someone living in Arizona or Nevada.
What Happens If My Solar Panels Produce More Energy Than Needed?
If your solar panels produce more energy than you require one month, your utility company may apply a credit to your bill. This process is known as net metering, and we’ll discuss it further in a moment.
How Can I Sell My Electricity Back To The Grid?
If your system produces surplus electricity, you can often opt to sell your electricity back to the grid. This is done when the energy is returned to the grid to be used for other purposes.
To sell surplus energy back to the grid you need to:
- Check if your state allows net metering – if you aren’t allowed to, you won’t be able to sell your energy
- Ensure your solar panel set up has a meter that will measure generated electricity and if you generate more than you use, you’ll get paid for it.
How Net Metering Works
Net metering is a system designed as an incentive for people to adopt solar systems, both in residential and commercial sectors. It can be a great way of saving money; by sending your excess energy back to the grid, you may be able to use this energy later on in the winter months, when your system is not producing as much solar power.
Who is Eligible for Net Metering?
Whether you’re eligible for net metering depends on where you live and what utility company you use. Net metering policies can vary from company to company and state to state. However, the majority of net metering contracts use different rates for residential users and non-residential users, such as public buildings or farms.
How Much Can You Sell Power to the Grid For?
Much like the savings you may make from using solar power, this depends on many factors. If you live in an area with a high concentration of daylight hours, your system will likely produce excess energy each month.
You may then be able to form a deal with an energy company in which you agree to have your excess energy returned to the grid for a fixed price. However, realistically, it’s unlikely that you will make a significant profit from net metering unless you have solar panels installed on a large public building and have the time and means to turn it into a business. It’s often just a couple of dollars. If you have neighbors with solar panels, it’s worth talking to them to see if they have managed to make any money back from theirs.
Is Solar Really Worth It?
There are many factors to consider when choosing your new energy source. As mentioned earlier, the amount of money saved will depend on where you live, how many people you live with and how much energy you typically use each month. Solar energy provides you with the opportunity to generate, store and trade electricity and save money, all while using an energy source you know is good for the planet.
In most cases, installing your own solar panels simply won’t be an affordable option for you, or you may find that your home isn’t somewhere suitable. If this is the case, we’re here to ensure you can still make the switch to renewable clean energy at a fraction of the cost of a full installation. The average solar installation is $11,000 - $15,000.
At Inspire, we pride ourselves on providing a clean and renewable energy source that you can count on. We are committed to helping you transition into a life with responsibly-sourced, renewable energy.
And as for signing up – it couldn’t be easier! You can sign up in just a few minutes, and when you do, we buy more clean energy on your behalf. This increases the demand and the amount of clean energy on the grid. With more clean energy on the grid, we’re reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and our contribution to climate change. To find out more about our clean energy membership, click here.
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