Most Common Solar Energy Myths And The Real Solar Energy Facts Chester County PA Solar Energy

What Are The Most Common Solar Energy Myths
A Solar System Is Like Purchasing Prepaid Electricity
Solar Energy Is A Continuous Dependable Source Of Free Energy

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Most Common Solar Energy Myths And The Real Solar Energy Facts
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Most Common Solar Energy Myths And The Real Solar Energy Facts

Solar energy and the solar industry has exploded in the last decade, and is today an established and competitive renewable energy source. Despite this (or maybe because of this), solar energy has been surrounded by myths, rumors and false facts that has sometimes dimmed the sunny picture. Here are the most common solar energy myths - and the real facts:

  1. Solar systems are too expensive.
    FACT: Solar Energy Installations are more affordable than they have ever been. Although there are no Pennsylvania state incentives at this time, a 30% federal tax credit is a huge savings to any size solar system. That means you pay no federal income tax for as many years as it takes to recover about one third of the solar system cost. And, the cost per watt installed is at an all time low. Plus, there are other rebates, credits, paybacks and incentives as well.
  2. The payback is far too long.
    FACT: The return on investment is estimated at 5%-15% per year and your free energy collection will continue far into the next generation. Solar energy IS practical AND economical and is an investment that will put money in your pocket for many years to come. In the beginning, a solar system is like purchasing prepaid electricity for 10 years at todays rate. The next 20 years are free. The sooner you start, the sooner you benefit. Plus, there are other benefits such as reliable energy when the utility grid is down.
  3. I should wait for new technology.
    FACT: Unlike your cell phone or computer, modern solar technology has changed little for decades. Solar modules are simple in design and construction. Sure, there will be some improvements in solar panel technology, but the truth is that there is much more benefit in starting to save money on your electric bill now.
  4. I won't live in the home long enough to make my investment back.
    FACT: Actually, a solar system increases the value of the home. For every $1,000 that has been saved in annual electric costs, your home's value rises $20,000. (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development). After you install a solar system, you may never want to move again.
  5. It will be harder to resell my house with solar panels.
    FACT: Research by the Department of Energy finds that "solar homes sell at up to twice the rate of their conventional counterparts." Their research also found that homeowners consider energy costs an extremely important factor in the decision to buy a home. Solar panels provide a competitive advantage because a home's owner is not as subject to constantly rising utility prices.
  6. A solar electric system will raise my property taxes.
    FACT: Despite the fact that your property value will increase, there is legislation that prevents your property taxes from increasing from installing solar components. In November of 1980, the people passed Proposition 7 which redefined solar energy systems. No longer were they considered "newly constructed" for the purposes of property taxes.
  7. Solar systems are ugly, large and bulky.
    FACT: Solar panels have come a long way over the years. Now systems have become virtually seamless with solar shingles. Solar cells can be combined with slate, metal, fiber-cement, and asphalt roofing. The appearance of solar panels on a roof or pole is no longer shocking, but actually becoming more common and popular. Ground pole mounts are also becoming more popular and visible. When I see solar panels, I think self-sufficiency, no electric bill, pioneers of our future, save the earth, and leaders of the pack.
  8. Solar panels will cause my roof to leak, deteriorate, or collapse.
    FACT: Solar panels actually protect and preserve the portion of the roof they cover. If there's ever a problem with the roof that needs to be repaired, panels can easily be removed. Most solar panels are not attached directly to the roof itself, but rather to a mounted railing system. Installers add sealants to fill in any gaps and often the mounts are surrounded by metal "flashing," or coverings that act as an extra barrier from the elements. Note: if your roof already leaks or needs to be replaced, it makes sense to make roof repairs first before installing solar panels.
  9. I cannot use solar energy because I don't have Southern roof exposure.
    FACT: East/West roof exposure is also very effective for photovoltaic systems. Sun exposure is usually directly overhead except for early morning and late evening. Directly South is not always the best or only direction for constant solar energy. A split Southeast and Southwest exposure can be more productive than directly South since one never knows what time of the day the sun will shine the brightest and longest on any given day. Another option is a ground mounted system in which case all you need is a relatively flat, unshaded area. Note: a ground mount is subject to vandalism and theft.
  10. Solar energy is inefficient.
    FACT: According to the U.S. Department of Energy, solar panel efficiency has more than quadrupled since the 1970's. With an average between 15-19% it sits in the same efficiency range as the gas in your car. Unlike gas though, the technology continues to advance, in turn, so will efficiency. Nevertheless, a solar system will reduce your electric bill and will eventually pay you or someone dividends for up to 30 years or more.
  11. When the power goes out, my home is still powered by solar.
    FACT: When the power goes out, grid-tied systems (without battery backup) go out too. That's because it's not safe to be pushing electricity back out onto the wires while workers may be trying to fix the problem, so your inverter (the big box near your meter that turns DC electricity created by the panels into usable AC current) recognizes that the grid is out and shuts your system off. If your solar system is a hybrid system that includes battery backup, then the inverter will automatically disconnect from the grid and connect to the batteries for continued or uninterrupted energy.
  12. I will store the excess energy I generate in batteries.
    FACT: Nearly all modern solar panel systems are grid tied only (no batteries) which means they are connected to the conventional utility grid (PECO) with no battery backup. Both type systems generate power during the day and excess is fed back into the grid through a process called net metering. When this happens, your utility company (PECO) credits you for that power you generated. At night or on overcast days, you'll use grid power, but you don't generally get charged for it because of all the credit you have generated. The grid-tied only method tends to be the most convenient and affordable for most homeowners who do not really understand or care about the real value of batteries. Batteries are an option for those who want continuous and uninterrupted energy (replaces a gas generator) when the utility grid is down, but they are an additional expense (less than a generator that makes noise and requires fuel and periodic maintenance), bulky (as is a generator), and have to be replaced every five to ten years (same could be said for a generator). Certainly more quiet and costs less than a house generator that runs on propane fuel until empty.
  13. I will need a battery system to store my solar energy.
    FACT: There is no reason to store energy when your system is connected to the utility grid. The benefit of batteries are to supply continuous energy when the utility grid is down. On days when your solar system produces more electricity than you are using, your utility company will automatically credit your account. At night and on days when you use more electricity than your system is producing, you'll use up those credits and draw electricity from the grid. Net metering happens automatically while you continue to use all of your electrical appliances as you always have. You'll still have a bill from your utility company, but it will be smaller or limited to services charges only. Although batteries are an option and offer energy when the grid is down, batteries are expensive (less than a gas generator) and can require minor maintenance depending on the type of batteries.
  14. The solar panels cannot withstand harsh climates (snow, hail, winds, sleet).
    FACT: The University of Vermont (who receives considerable snow fall) has a system that has proven to be effective and virtually maintenance free, even during the winter months. The color of the solar panels is dark which aides in melting the snow plus a South facing position allows for a quickened melting process.
  15. Solar panels won't work well in the cold winter weather and climates.
    FACT: Solar panels produce power based on the amount of sunlight the panels are exposed to, so they are unaffected by temperature. In fact, you might be surprised to know that solar PV panels actually work better in colder weather as opposed to extremely hot temperatures. Those sunny, yet cold days in winter could generate comparable amounts of solar energy to a hot, summer day. Although you won't be producing as much solar power as you do during the summer months, your system is designed so that you can draw on the electricity credits you generated during the summer. Although this might seem counter-intuitive, consider that solar panels on a rooftop in cool, foggy San Francisco produce only one percent less electricity than one in nearby Sacramento, where it's sunny and hot. Solar works great all over North America. Germany, the #1 world producer of solar electricity, is equal to Alaska in solar resources. You'll be amazed at how much clean, renewable energy is available every day. Most states have the ability to generate a whopping 128 million megawatt hours per year.
  16. Solar panels do not work in cold, cloudy places/states.
    FACT: UV light is all that's needed and even the cloudiest of places have excelled. Germany, who ranks low in sunny days, is the solar energy capital of the world. In fact, when the solar panels are cold, they are able to better conduct electricity.
  17. Solar power does not work in areas that get snow.
    FACT: If it snows enough to completely cover your panels, they will not produce electricity while covered. However, snow slides easily off of panels, and your panels tend to be located where your roof gets the most sun, so the snow on your panels will melt and your panels will resume producing electricity. If you live in an area where snow days are common, snow days will be factored into your system's projected production. Solar panels are designed to be hail and wind resistant.
  18. Solar panels require periodic maintenance.
    FACT: Solar panels have no moving parts and do not require regular maintenance. Typically the recommendation is to hose off the panels once a year or so, but many panel owners actually never clean the panels and instead rely on the rain to do the job for them. Typically this will cause only a very slight loss in efficiency (about 5 percent) over the lifetime of the panels. Of course, if any large debris falls onto the panels, it's recommended you remove it. These days, solar systems come with monitoring software that allows you to spot any drops in power generation right away. Often your installer is linked into your monitoring system too, so sometimes they'll even be aware of drops in a panel's power output before you are!
  19. More energy is needed to manufacture a solar cell than it will generate under its life cycle (alternatively, more CO2 is produced to manufacture a solar cell than it will save under its lifetime).
    FACT: Not at all true. Today, the energy payback for silicon solar cells is less than two years. For thin film solar cells the energy payback is less than one year! After that period, energy (and CO2) is saved and accumulated during the remaining life span of the solar cell (often 25 years). Which makes solar cells extremely environmentally friendly.
  20. Solar manufacturing results in more pollution than is saved by solar usage.
    FACT: A PV system meeting half of the electrical needs of a typical household would eliminate approximately half a ton of sulfur dioxide pollution from the air, and 600 lbs of nitrogen oxides. In contrast, any pollutants produced in the manufacturing process are minimal and largely recycled. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory of the United States Department of Energy conclusively demonstrates through research at the National Center for Photovoltaics that Photovoltaic (PV) systems avoid far more carbon dioxide and other pollution through their clean energy production than are introduced by the manufacturing of PV systems. "An average U.S. household uses 830 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month. On average, producing 1000 kWh of electricity with solar power reduces emissions by nearly 8 pounds of sulfur dioxide, 5 pounds of nitrogen oxides, and more than 1,400 pounds of carbon dioxide. During its projected 28 years of clean energy production, a rooftop system with 2-year payback and meeting half of a household's electricity use would avoid conventional electrical plant emissions of more than half a ton of sulfur dioxide, one-third a ton of nitrogen oxides, and 100 tons of carbon dioxide." The study concludes, "PV is clearly a wise energy investment with great environmental benefits!"
  21. Solar energy is not financially viable without subsidies.
    FACT: Subsidies are being rapidly phased out and technological advancements continue to make solar cells more efficient. Solar energy is now cheaper than purchased electricity (market prices) almost everywhere in the world where the sun shines. There has been a rapid decline in solar energy costs over the last 12 months to the point that it competes favorably with even the cheapest of fossil fuels. A utility owned by US tycoon Warren Buffet recently agreed upon a purchase price of 3.87 cents per kWh from First Solar's Nevada plant - probably the cheapest electricity price in the US and most of the world.
  22. Few states offer rebates or financial incentives for solar energy installations.
    FACT: According to the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy, 48 states have a solar/renewable energy incentive on top of the 30% federal tax credit! Pennsylvania is not one of them.
  23. All solar cell manufacturers lose money.
    FACT: some do, but not all. Many manufacturers of silicon solar cells compete in the same segment using the same technology. They are having a tough time. Other segments are more profitable, such as thin, lightweight and flexible solar panels. The solar energy industry is immature, with constant changes of leadership positions and markets. What we are witnessing is in reality a traditional consolidation phase in a new and fledging industry, with winners and losers, and with the surviving players facing a bright and profitable future. Among future winners, we must include roof and construction companies with the insight to see building integrated photovoltaics as the 'next big thing'. Solar cells will become better integrated with both roofs and facades, and current manufacturers of construction materials have a great opportunity to gain market shares in this area.
  24. Solar energy will become attractive after battery manufacturers can produce more efficient batteries.
    FACT: Solar energy is already a very cost competitive source of energy. Cheap and efficient batteries will of course strengthen its attractiveness, but the fact that solar energy is produced when it is demanded the most (i.e. in the middle of the day) makes solar energy less dependent on storage solutions than many other energy sources. Keep in mind that the cost of a fueled generator as energy backup is much more costly than solar battery backup.
  25. Solar is too expensive for widespread usage.
    FACT: Going solar is one of the best investments any homeowner can ever make. A properly designed and installed solar electric system is equivalent to an investment with a guaranteed rate of return of 12 to 15% per year. This investment value increases as utility rates rise. The Appraisal Journal states that energy saving devices such as solar energy systems add tremendous value to your property, while being exempt from property tax assessment. Solar photovoltaic (PV) technologies have declined in price every year since they were introduced. PV has never been more affordable than it is right now. This is the exact opposite of oil, gas and coal sources, which become more expensive and less abundant with every ton that is burned. PV solar panels operate during peak daytime load periods, when oil, coal and natural-gas-fired electricity is at its greatest demand and most expensive. In fact, in an efficiently designed PV system, the panels can actually be returning excess power to the grid when it is most needed and that's what makes the electric meter in a solar-powered building run backwards, generating credit instead of cost. The Federal Government and State of California are both solidly behind solar. Best of all, this time the politicians are putting their money where their rhetoric is in the form of cash rebates for going solar. The Federal government announced its One Million Rooftops Solar Initiative in 1997. There are also many local financial incentives available throughout California, including possible state rebates. The rebates available depend on a number of factors. Learn more about rebates available in your area. The future is now. A million rooftops now, billions of kilowatt/hours in just a few years. The United States Department of Energy predicts in the 2007-2030 Energy Outlook predicted that 78% of the 27.4 billion kilowatt/hours that will be generated by buildings will come from solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.
  26. Solar systems are unreliable and inconsistent.
    FACT: On the contrary, solar electric systems can be more reliable than the utility company. They have no moving parts and off-grid systems are not subject to power outages. In fact, solar technologies are used to power many vital systems: aircraft warning lights, railroad crossing signals, navigational buoys, and more.
  27. Solar panels hurt the U.S. economy.
    FACT: The solar industry employs more than 100,000 Americans, double the amount in 2009. They work at 5,600 companies, the vast majority being small business in all 50 states. The U.S. solar energy market grew 140% in the third quarter of 2011 over the same quarter the previous year, making it one of the fastest growing sectors in the economy.
  28. Once the global warming "scam" is uncovered, no one will be interested in solar energy.
    FACT: Whether you believe in global warming or not, and most people do, photovoltaic solar energy is a very attractive way of generating your own electricity at a low foreseeable cost. It is probably the cheapest way to generate electricity in sunny regions and brings energy independence to individuals, corporations and countries alike. It is also a potential job creator. So global warming, believe it or not, really has nothing to do with the benefits of solar energy.

Most Common Solar Energy Myths And The Real Solar Energy Facts