Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Panels

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Solar or photovoltaic panels are quickly gaining popularity as prices fall and the efficiency of the panels rises. This creates many reasons for installing solar panels on a home or business. However, disadvantages to installing solar power persist. And some other things related to installing solar on your home or building remain in the either/or category.

Advantages

  • The first and foremost advantage to installing solar is creating a long-term, reliable energy source for your home or building. A photovoltaic or solar thermal installation can provide predictable amounts of energy for a projected lifespan. This allows installation owners to predict, on a long-term basis, how much energy the panels will produce and how much the energy they produce will cost. Therefore solar offers energy price stability that is unparalleled by most other energy sources. And gains in efficiency and new technologies, including thin-films and nanomaterials, are making solar panels more efficient, lighter and less expensive.

Incentives

  • Another great reason to install solar panels now is that more incentives exist now than ever before. These include incentives from federal, state and local governments as well as power companies. You can check out rebates in your area at the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy. Incentives include rebates, tax breaks, grants and low-interest rate loans.

Weather and Location

  • Bad weather or location can drastically affect solar cells' performance. This is particularly relevant when experiencing long periods of cloudy days when they're not expected. Similarly, if you live in the southern United States, particularly the southwest, you're in a great place to invest in solar. However, the northernmost parts of the United States, such as Maine, Minnesota or Alaska are much less suited for solar installations. They get far less sunlight in the winter than in the summer. And the sun that hits these areas isn't nearly as powerful as that in the south.

    Local geographic features can also drastically affect the effectiveness of solar panels. If you have nearby mountains or you're near large buildings blocking your southern exposure, you're not in an ideal location for a solar installation since the majority of suitable solar power comes from southern sunlight.

Local Law and Neighborhood Codes

  • Solar panels have come a long way in terms of looks. Older systems were bulky and obtrusive installations on rooftops. While modern photovoltaics can blend into rooftops, or even into the sides of buildings, neighborhood associations or local laws can prohibit certain types of photovoltaic installations because of how they look or because the legal authorities are worried about property values falling. The local chapter of the American Solar Energy Society can help you get around such issues.

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  • Photo Credit Solar Panels image by alessbonaventura from Fotolia.com
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