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The Pros and Cons of Solar Energy

Updated on April 28, 2009

In our continuing efforts to live a greener life we have been contemplating solar panels for our roof. Of course there are pros and cons to using solar energy, but it seems to me that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Unfortunately two of the disadvantages are large enough for us (they may not be for you) that we probably will not be purchasing solar panels. But I am hopeful that our research will benefit other people that are interested in using solar energy.

One of the biggest advantages I see to having solar panels is that aside from the cost to purchase them, solar energy is free. It is renewable and does not deplete any of Earth's resources. It is a clean energy and omits no pollution. It seems like the ideal way to go for everyone and I wonder why more people and companies don't use this amazing energy source.

When I look at the cost to purchase the panels I understand why. They are very expensive. Solar panels have really come down in price though and between federal and state funding the average person could end up saving 50% of the cost. Once the panels are installed, your electric bill should be next to nothing each month. In fact you could even make money. Many people that have solar panels sell excess energy back to the power companies and make money from them. All of this combined means that your payback time on purchasing solar panels could be just a few short years. If you are planning on living in your home for a long time, they could very well be worth it to you financially. When you combine that with the benefits to the environment it seems like a great idea.

In order to make a decision for yourself you definitely need to calculate how long your payback time would be. You also need to look at statistics for your area to see if it is sunny enough to support solar panels, because the sun has to be shining in order to produce energy. The occasional cloudy day will be fine because you will have energy stored up with the power company. If you live in Ohio like me though, when it can go a month without sun the payback will be much longer. Combine that with lots of large trees that overhang our house and I seriously doubt we would ever get our money back from solar panels. Between that and the cost (I don't think anyone should go into debt to purchase solar panels) they just aren't right for us.

If you live in a very sunny place solar panels should work beautifully for you. The aesthetics of them are not for everyone, but typically if you are interested enough in clean energy to be considering solar panels then the looks won't bother you. One of the great things about solar panels is you can have as many or as few as you need. You can add more at any time. Once the panels are installed there are not any recurring costs, which is very nice.

An added benefit for having solar panels is that energy can be stored in batteries for use at night or during a black-out. Suddenly you really aren't dependent on a power company. It is like having an automatic generator. I really like that idea! If you can't afford solar panels to power your whole house, consider solar panels to heat your water. Heating water for a household can be up to 30% of your electric costs and it could be well worth the money to get a system set up to cover just the hot water heater.

I truly believe that the world needs to make a large push to using renewable energy such as solar panels or wind turbines if we are going to be able to make our resources last. Solar panels need to become more affordable and common place for this to happen. I am very disappointed that they probably won't work for us, but still have hope that someday they will.


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    • dali48 profile image

      Wolfgang G. Greiner 

      6 years ago from Germany

      Thank you Jennifer, for your Hub about solar energy - During the first oil embargo in 1973 there was a car-free Sunday in Germany where we students could go by bike onto the motorway near Freiburg. Back in Tübingen where I studied I read a book about the Egyptian "Sun God Ra" which inspired me to think about solar energy for the first time...

    • megni profile image


      6 years ago

      I too am on the solar energy bandwagon. I see it as an energy source for the future. I believe that even to use the sun passively, without the expense of panel, etc, is a good first step. That is lower the thermostat in the afternoons and let the sun shine through the windows, build houses with lots of rock around exterior where the heat can collect, etc., and make every little ray count.

      Thanks for sharing

    • rajuan profile image


      7 years ago

      I read your article your writing skill is very fantastic. The hub topic good subject of present situation. Coming world was dependent of renewable energy to solar power.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Solar power solar energy is a popular topic. Renewable energy has many benefits and for homeowners that want to lower electric bills, solar electric is something to check into. Anyone can find out about solar energy energy systems from local solar companies. In California you can get a free energy analysis and information about the solar systems and credits, rebates, etc. from

      Find out if going solar makes sense to you.

    • profile image

      Jim Morrison (Yakima Valley Solar) 

      7 years ago

      Again Jennifer, you at least bring the topic to the table and it does provide a good basis for discussion.

      More technical data to support solar (or not). Since my home area is the Pacific Northwest, it's the only place i do comparison between grid and non grid tied systems for solar panels. I recommend grid ties except for the fact that some utility companies "clean the slate" on the 1st of May around here. Any credit remaining on that date reverts back the power company who then sells it for profit. Your own systems (if your decision is to install solar), should be sized to be economical and beneficial. If you bank solar time with your utility, try to minimize what is left at the end of the production year unless your state provides incentives for kW generation. It's usually not the power company that subsidizes whatever power you generate, it normally comes from taxpayer dollars. The utility companies do not give anything away (check the annual profits from the top 100 utilities).

    • profile image

      Joshua - Solar Energy Advantages 

      7 years ago

      Great hub jennifer. Readers do really benefit from you research. I'm pro solar energy and also hoping that all of us will divert into renewable resources like solar energy just to preserve our environment for the future generation. Thanks!

    • profile image 

      7 years ago

      Good hub! it is great to consider using solar energy through solar devices like panels. You can have free and unlimited electricity, which is not harmful to the environment.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      hey :)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      great point of view..the pros for solar energy far outweighs the risk attached with it. you cant be closer to nature in alignment...

    • drdspervez profile image


      8 years ago from Pakistan

      Jennifer ! indeed it's a good hub.


    • profile image

      Electrician In Los Angeles 

      8 years ago

      great article. however, it seems like some people are still waiting for the solar panels to become less expensive and more efficient.

    • EnergyImprovement profile image


      8 years ago from Texas

      I enjoyed your article. Recently, I was watching a Discovery channel special on solar power and they mentioned that since China has come into the market the prices should be falling soon...

    • Gawth profile image

      Ron Gawthorp 

      8 years ago from Millboro, Virginia

      I have been looking at the Chinese exports of solar components. I wonder about their quality. I just replaced a ballast in the "green energy" flourescent light that was supposed to save me the price of the lamp. The ballast was made in China and Lowe's (who sold it to me)carried no replacement. I had to have the light outfitted with a $30 ballast plus the cost of rewiring it. Therefore I am not so sure cheap Chinese solar components would be a good investment.

    • profile image

      Mark Dude 

      8 years ago

      New energy about solar energy, sun's energy with photovoltaic power systems, Learn how to use the renewable energy for your family, manufacturers and suppliers of products powered by solar water heater.

    • MrBurton profile image


      8 years ago

      I like this post. Mostly because the author realizes the long term benefits of the rising cost of oil. But lets not confuse oil (for transportation, products and other commodities) with home energy use. Most power for homes is provided by coal, wind, nuclear, hydroelectric plants). Solar energy is a method to fix your utility bill so that you pay today and save tomorrow. Those two concepts beat inflation and rising energy costs. Take a look at common questions people have about solar powered homes that this hub has not yet addressed

    • Henry102726 profile image


      8 years ago

      You might want to check out building your own solar panels. We understand these can be built for under $200. Some info at

    • John Canivan profile image

      John Canivan 

      9 years ago


      A solar application may not be right for you if your roof points in the wrong direction and your job security is not looking good. A solar investment is a long term investment that begins when a house is first built.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      The great thing about solar power is it's adaptability. Yes you can go the traditional rout and purchase a ready-made panel system plugged right into the mains but also this can be done with second-hand panels instead. Or you could make a water heater or even a basic heater for a room with DIY materials! With the Sun being as powerful as it is there is little wonder that the possibilities are so widespread!

    • profile image 

      9 years ago from HEARTLAND

      Great info!! Wonderful! Thank you!

    • planet overhaul profile image

      planet overhaul 

      9 years ago

      When speaking of energy, renewable energy like from Solar is the most ideal to use. Needless to say that its earth friendly and inputes low cost in the future. I made few benefits of solar energy here:

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      9 years ago from East Coast, United States

      I am hoping that with government incentives and the interest in green technology, solar prices will come down. I'd love to solar power our hot water as hot water is a big energy cost.

    • Info Provider profile image

      Info Provider 

      9 years ago from St. Louis Mo.


    • rayh profile image


      9 years ago from Bristol UK

      I read your article with interest. Although based in England we have found our electric and hot water panels remarkably effective, even on a non sunny day. Even in Winter there has been something there but has had to be supplemented, but better than nothing.

      We have had solar panels for a few years now adding them over those years as the money would allow and using their benefits in small ways at first. Now we generate lots of electricity in the Summer though not enough to power a washing machine.

      Our saving have been quite significant around 60% though this ignores amount invested. Since installing them we have become aware of such things as Peak Oil which in itself changes the goal posts and makes any calculation of payback seem unrealistic. As a former electrical engineer I'm aware of the age of the electricity infrastructure and its lifespan so I find the investment in this technology worth more than the financial values written down.

      I have been running occassional courses to teach others how to do this. Available in England

    • Nemingha profile image


      9 years ago

      Another great effort.

    • LondonGirl profile image


      9 years ago from London

      I agree, use of solar energy should be encouraged as much as possible.

    • Hawkesdream profile image


      9 years ago from Cornwall

      Here in Cornwall, I have noticed that many 'social' housing properties are being built with solar panels included. Surely if this is the case , it may be possible to get a government grant towards the cost. Might be worth looking in to.


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