Should everyone install renewable solar energy systems at home? Switching to solar panels will certainly limit your impact on the environment as you will use renewable solar energy in place of conventional energy to cover for your household energy needs. Solar Photovoltaic (PV) panels can explore into free solar energy provided by the sun without having to emit harmful gas emissions into the atmosphere (such as CO2). However, installing Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels at home may not be the right solution for everyone, as this bears also some disadvantages compared to conventional power generation. Before deciding on installing your home solar panels you should consider the pros and cons of home solar panels and home solar power.
Compared to conventional power generation solar undoubtedly has the advantage with regards to atmospheric emissions and the environment. Considering that home solar panels, once installed, can produce electricity without emitting CO2 into the atmosphere, then this means that a considerable amount of harmful gas emissions is kept from being emitted into the atmosphere – this would be the amount emitted by generating the equivalent amount of energy (electricity) be conventional means (e.g. burning diesel or coal). Clearly, over the lifetime of PV panels for home installations (around 20-25 years), Solar panels can help reduce CO2 emissions, the greenhouse effect and help improve the environment.
Considering the cost for generating electricity, solar power again offers an advantage compared to conventional power generation. Solar panels exploit solar power (sunlight) and through the photoelectric effect produce electricity freely from a source that is abundant in nature. On the other hand, power generation with conventional means is very much dependant on the fossil fuel market prices and their steep fluctuations from the worldwide fuel supply chain. The price of oil has been fluctuating heavily in the past years and it is expected to do so in the future especially in a highly uncertain global economic environment. In general, the cost per kilowatt-hour of electricity produced from solar panels is actually zero (ignoring initial investment and/or depreciation costs) whereas the equivalent cost from conventional power generation is considerably high (e.g. $0.134-0.204 cents per kwh – June 2012)
Although residential solar panels have very low, almost negligible, operating cost, initial investment to purchase and install the solar panels system is a considerable investment. Photovoltaic solar panels cost may range between $1,700 to $2,500 per Kw of installed capacity. To offset for this high cost you can take advantage of various financial incentives available such as government loans, grants for installation of solar panels or sell electricity at subsidized rate with feed in tariffs (FITS). In general, the cost for switching to solar power for your home energy needs most likely will remain high, making this prospective, as a standalone financial proposal, unprofitable. However, considering the financial incentives available for this purpose can help make it financially viable.
One of the biggest disadvantages of home solar energy systems, which is inherited from renewable energy technologies in general, is the fact that its production of electricity is greatly influenced from climatic and morphological conditions which are, by nature, unpredictable – see pros and cons of solar PV. Solar Photovoltaic panels produce electricity during the day when there is sunlight and remain idle during the night. As their mode of electricity generation assumes the supply of direct sunlight from the sun, in cloudy or rainy weather, solar panel efficiency levels drop dramatically bringing the whole system to a halt – for more on optimising a solar panel system with inverters see micro-inverters vs string inverters. Consequently, if you are planning to install solar panels for your home electricity needs, you will need to have a backup solution to compensate for low or non productive times (known during the night and unpredictable due to weather fluctuations). Such solutions may incorporate the use of solar storage with solar batteries or connecting your solar panels kits to a conventional power generation system for co-production of electricity. It is important to note that environmental conditions are extremely important and may vary from location to location; thus the performance, and consequently the financial assessment, of installing home solar energy systems has different value depending on location and climatic conditions. – A complete list and analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of solar energy as a source and the related solar energy technologies is included in solar energy pros and cons.