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The Pros & Cons of Going Solar

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Solar energy is more accessible, reliable and inexpensive than ever before. Many home owners are choosing to go solar causing a 75% increase in the solar market in the past 5 years. However, choosing to go solar is not an easy decision to make. While it is better for the environment and can actually increase the value of your home, it is a big expense that takes years to recoup. So how do you decide if solar is right for you? Here are some pros and cons to guide you along the way:

The Pros:

  1. Solar is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. The electricity that solar panels produce is completely emissions free which helps eliminate climate change and health problems related to carbon emissions. When you use renewable solar energy as opposed to your regular utility provider you are also reducing the demand for electricity which results in your utility plant emitting less carbon to meet customer demand.
  2. Going solar is an investments in your home. Many homes with solar panel systems are sold and valued at higher prices and actually sell faster than homes without one.
  3. If you buy the solar panels, you are allowed to deduct 30% of your solar power system costs off your federal taxes through aninvestment tax credit (ITC). If you do not expect to owe taxes that year, you can roll over your federal solar tax credit to the following year.
  4. Solar energy systems are very durable and will last you a lifetime. Solar panels are made to withstand a variety of weather conditions and most come with a 25 year warranty.
  5. Solar has a fixed energy cost which drastically reduces or even eliminates your electric bills and protects you from rising energy costs.

The Cons:

  1. Purchasing solar panels is a big expense. The average price of purchasing and installing solar panels is upwards of $25,000.
  2. It takes years to recoup your original investment and you might even move to a different house before you have the chance.
  3. Solar panels can only collect energy depending on daylight hours and cloud coverage. Depending on where you live, you can’t always count on the sun to shine. This is the reason that Hawaii, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and California are the top 5 states in solar rankings. If you live in an area that doesn’t get a lot of sun then solar panels are not useful to you. Also bear in mind that if your house is near trees or a shady area, solar panels are not ideal either.
  4. Energy storage is very expensive, many energy storage systems such as batteries make solar power more stable, but these technologies cost upwards of $10,000.
  5. While the most popular idea behind solar panels is to minimize your carbon footprint, the manufacturing process of these panels is greatly associated with greenhouse gas emissions. The production of solar panels actually involves some of the most potent greenhouse gases, like Nitrogen trifluroide, which have a much larger impact on global warming than carbon dioxide.

Keep in mind that whether you are spending money to make an investment in solar energy, or giving that money to your utility provider, it is still money that is being spent on energy. Deciding to go solar is very similar to deciding to purchase a home instead of renting one. You can continue to pay your utility provider for energy monthly or you can decide to invest in your home and take control of your energy costs.

There are 3 ways to go solar, the first option is to buy the solar panels and have them installed, the second is to lease the panels and the third is through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). A PPA is very similar to a solar lease, the difference between the two is that in a lease you agree to pay the solar company a fixed monthly “rent” in exchange for use of their solar panels. With a PPA instead of paying “rent” for the solar panels you are purchasing the power generated by the system only. The main distinction between buying and leasing your solar system is ownership. Buying solar panels is ideal for those of you who not only want to take advantage of the systems environmental benefits but also maximize your financial benefits. Leasing solar panels or doing a PPA is better for those of you who are primarily interested in using energy generated from renewable resources and want to avoid the responsibility of maintenance or repairs of the solar panels. You can get a solar energy system for little or no money down if you decide to lease or do a PPA. If you are leasing the equipment, the solar company owns and maintains the solar power system for you.

Deciding whether solar is right for you depends on how much you’re paying for electricity now, and that varies based on where you live, the construction style of your roof and its exposure to the sun. We hope that our article on the pros and cons of going solar helps make that decision a little bit easier.

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