Solar Panel Myths
Solar Myth 1: Solar Panels are Bulky, Ugly and Decreases Property Value.
While aesthetics are a matter of preference and "beauty is in the eye of the beholder", it is important to ensure that you are properly identifying what a modern solar PV system looks like (and not mistaking it with a passive solar heating system or other something else entirely.)
NOT A SOLAR PV SYSTEM - These passive solar heating systems are common throughout New Mexico and are much bulkier than a solar panel.
OUTDATED SOLAR PV - While this IS a solar panel, it is an example of a solar module that was produced in the 1970s. We've come a long way.
MODERN SOLAR PV SYSTEM - Solar energy systems now come with a plethora of options: black or silver solar module frames and racking, mono-crystalline (black) or poly-crystalline (blue) color to the solar panels themselves, and even partially transparent panels that allow some light to come through (for gazebos or decorative designs where partial sunshine is requested).
A recent study also shows that adding a solar energy system to your home may INCREASE it's resale value. Data analyzed from 2000-2009 highlights a clear trend of solar homes selling for a higher premium than non-solar homes statewide (in California at least).
Solar Myth 2: Solar Panels Require Lots of Maintenance.
Most manufacturers recommend washing the panels once a year to keep them in performing at an optimal level. Here is what one manufacturer has as their maintenance instructions:
Modules with sufficient tilt (at least 15°), generally do not require cleaning (rain will have a selfcleaning effect). If the module has become soiled, it shall be washed with water and a non-abrasive cleaning implement (sponge) during the cool part of the day. Do not scrape or rub dry dirt away, as this may cause micro scratches.
In other words, spray your panel down with a garden hose periodically to keep panels clean or let the rain do it for you... pretty maintenance free.
Solar Myth 3: When the Power Goes Out, My Home Will Still Have Power.
This one is a little tricky. Solar energy systems use inverters to convert the Direct Current (DC) produced from the panels into Alternating Current (AC) that your home and the utility grid uses. On a grid-tied solar pv system, your excess energy is fed back onto the grid and distributed to others who require the electricity (you're paid for this energy from the utility company). Because of this 'backfeeding' onto the grid, inverters have a safety mechanism that automatically seize power generation in order to prevent a utility worker from potentially being injured while working on the power line.
The exception: SMA has recently come out with an innovative solution to this problem which they call a "secure power supply". During a grid outage, the Sunnyboy series inverters have an optional dedicated outlet that can be used to receive solar energy in real time. The on-board computer recognizes the grid outage and filters the solar energy directly to the dedicated outlet in your home or business, bypassing the grid, and therefore making it safe for utility workers. When the grid comes back on, the inverter recognizes this and resumes its excess energy back-feeding.
Solar Myth 4: The Energy Has to be Stored in Batteries.
As mentioned in solar myth 3, grid-tied solar systems have a correlation with the electric grid (hence the name 'grid-tied') and can both send and receive electricity from the power lines. During the day time, your solar panels are working to generate electricity for you to use - spinning your meter backwards! During the night, when the solar energy system isn't generating electricity, you begin pulling energy from the grid (just as you would without solar) ensuring you have a constant electrical source. So, it's a give and take relationship with the grid and the utility company acts as the 'energy storage' by providing electricity for you when solar is not in use.
Here's another explanation (with a British accent):
Solar Myth 5: Solar Panels Don't Work On Cloudy Days.
Have you ever been by the pool on a cloudy day and got a sunburn? This happens because clouds only block the visible light coming from the sun and not the Ultraviolet (UV) rays that can produce burning. These UV rays are what solar panels use to create energy from the sun, not direct sunlight. Therefore, clouds have little no negative effects to the production of solar pv energy. In fact, solar pv actually works more efficiently at cooler temperatures meaning that with the same amount of UV radiation (which the clouds DON'T effect) and cooler temperatures (which the clouds DO effect) you can create solar energy at a more efficient rate.
Solar Myth 6: Solar is Complicated.
Many people want to go solar but get confused by all of the aspects of solar: permitting, engineering, installation, sizing the system correctly, which solar panels to use, etc. This is exactly why solar installation companies exist! We make it easy for you by taking care of everything and creating a turnkey solar system for homes and businesses. You aren't required to learn anything new to operate your system - it works seamlessly with your existing electrical system to provide a reliable and affordable source of energy to you. Electronic devices plugged into the same outlets you have always used will continue to work in the same fashion they always have. It doesn't get any easier than that!
Solar Myth 7: Solar is Expensive, Takes Forever to Pay for Itself, and Isn't Worth it.
Before we dive into the costs and return on investment (ROI) associated with solar, let's back up and approach it another way. Before you bought your home, you probably weighted out the pros and cons of renting vs buying (upfront costs, monthly payments, resale investment, etc.) This same thought process that ultimately lead you to purchase your home can be applied to your decision to go solar. Are there more upfront costs to adding solar panels to your home or business compared to doing nothing? Yes. But 7 years down the road (the average time it takes to see a ROI for solar systems) will you have something to show from your investment? Yes- Free energy for the next 10+ years! The question then becomes, do you pay the utility company forever (with nothing to show for it in the end) or do you put that same money towards a monthly payment on a solar system that provides the same energy, a tangible (and liquid-able) asset, increases property resale value, and ultimately SAVES you money over the life of the system?
So, is it expensive? Compared to renting electricity from the utility company forever-no. Does it take 'forever' to pay for itself? The average ROI for a solar energy system is 6-8 years with a warranty period of 20+ years, that's more than 10 years of free energy! Is it worth it? That depends on how long you plan to be at the property, whether your interest is strictly financial or environmental as well, and whether you feel that the benefits are enough to motivate you. This is why we always offer a free quote that clearly illustrates the costs and benefits associated with going solar, ROI period, and projected costs without solar, making your decision easier.
(Depending on your situation.)
Solar Myth 8: Solar Will Get More Efficient, So I Should Wait.
It is true that solar panels are getting more efficient, as they have been since the first solar cell was created in 1941, but they have reached a point where it has become as cost effective or even cheaper to produce energy from solar than with fossil fuels. Couple that with the fantastic government and utility incentives for renewable energy, and there's never been a better time to go solar - Wait too long and these incentives may not be available!