Nothing beats the green advantages of solar power – doing your bit against global warming and scoring free energy into the bargain.
However, as with almost everything, there are some disadvantages of solar energy too.
So here is a list of solar power advantages and disadvantages:
Once installed, solar panels that generate electricity with photovoltaic cells (PV cells) can save you a LOT of money! One estimate gave the amount of $20 000 per household in America that had installed solar panels in 2011.
Although the sun doesn’t shine 24 hours a day, it does shine when you need it most – during the waking hours. This is when it can be used and also stored for use later in the day.
IT DOESN’T MATTER WHERE YOU LIVE
Even remote areas where it’s too expensive to extend the grid to can have electricity and heating by means of solar energy.
Sunlight is clean energy and solar collectors and PV cells clean methods of collecting it.
Solar technology is constantly being improved upon and becoming cheaper too.
You can have the best of both worlds by staying partially connected to the grid as backup in inclement weather.
Your energy bill and carbon footprint are instantly reduced upon installation of a system.
DISADVANTAGES OF SOLAR ENERGY
The passive solar hot water system, although cheapest and simplest to install lacks the pumps and backup that the active system has. The risk is that it can leak heat.
The passive system is also only suitable for warmer climates.
The active solar hot water system, on the other hand, is protected from these problems by having pumps as well as insulation from bad weather. Because of this, however, it’s also far more expensive and complicated to install.
Both passive and active systems can occasionally run out of heat depending on hot water usage and weather.
Both passive and active systems may require more than one collector and water tank to ensure enough heat through cold months. This will bump up costs further.
In cold, cloudy countries such as the UK solar systems can become as unreliable as the weather.
PHOTOVOLTAIC CELLS (PV CELLS)
PV or solar cells are the most and complicated solar system option because they are able to convert solar energy into electricity.
They are rather inefficient, being able to harness only about 15% of the sun’s radiation. New technology has been developed, though, to harness about 41%. Unfortunately it’s presently very expensive and probably out of the price range of the average consumer.
DIRECT AND INDIRECT GAIN SOLAR SOLUTIONS
These fairly simple solutions involve the use of insulating materials and south-facing windows to capture heat. The heat then seeps out slowly through the day and into the night.
The cheapest option is the direct gain solution, namely using south facing glass windows. This heats a house well but has the disadvantage of not being able to regulate the heat.
Indirect gain is the more expensive as it uses special insulating materials to insulate your home and prevent heat escaping in winter and keeps in coolness in summer.
This solution can involve insulating your roof, walls and foundation (if building a new home). It’s probably best to use professional advice so as not to waste money.
The disadvantages of solar energy are few. It can be a bit expensive to implement but it’s worth it in the long run to have energy independence, even if only partially.
You will also have the satisfaction of self-reliance and the knowledge that you’re doing your part for the environment.