Pros & Cons of Solar
Solar panels are becoming more and more common, with over 2 million households across Australia now having had a system installed. This is because solar is generally a wise environmentally friendly decision that means you will be spending less of your hard-earned cash on high electricity bills.
Although, under some circumstances installing solar may not be right for everyone and so in this post we will look at some of the pros and cons of solar and give a brief explanation into how each point can have either a positive or negative impact.
Let’s firstly investigate some of the drawbacks.
- Installation cost
Solar panels are expensive, there’s no way around this particularly if you are looking for a system that will last. Although, the federal government STC scheme is still in place and the price of solar systems are heavily subsidies. What this means is that you’ll be installing an asset at a reduced price, which is below its actual retail value.
If you are unable to purchase the system outright, there are some good payments plans available that still make solar financially viable and even cash flow positive in most cases. Just have a good understanding of the total amount the system will cost and save before signing anything. Generally a well-designed solar system installed for a fair price will be much cheaper than grid power in the long run and often cheaper from day one when using a no deposit green loan.
In today’s market the price of batteries is too high for them to even be considered as an option, in most cases. When prices do eventually drop to levels that stimulate a widespread integration of storage devices this will see better regulation of the demand and load, but this is still a few years away.
The expense of storage also means that nearly all residential systems do not contribute towards covering night-time usage and therefore power will still need to be purchased from the grid at night. This can be offset from selling power back to the grid during the day.
The production of power from solar systems do experience seasonal and daily fluctuations due to the position of the sun, number of sunlight hours and cloud coverage. The further south you are located the more you will be affected by seasonal variance, with production in summer being significantly higher than winter. In addition, on overcast days there will be lower irradiance and therefore lower production that is difficult to predict and match to your electricity consumption levels.
- Does not eliminate pollution
While solar power produces significantly fewer greenhouse gas emissions than the equivalent fossil fuels, their production and transportation is still associated with some release of green house gases.
- Difficult to move
It is possible to remove your solar panels and take them with you if you move to a new house, although this practice is quite rare as the price to move them can be relatively high. However, due to the addition of an expensive asset on the roof, the installation of solar should increase the value of your property when it is put on the market. So, unless you move immediately after installing solar any financial loses should be kept to a minimum.
- May not fit every roof
As a rule of thumb, quicker returns are often achieved with larger system sizes but the amount of available roof space and shading, will ultimately dictate what size system can realistically be installed. This size may not be the optimum size to maximise your return on investment.
If your property is surrounded by trees or there is any shade cast by surrounding structures, be mindful that the production will be affected and the return on investment will be longer. This does not mean solar will not be viable for you but you probably won’t get your money back as fast as someone with the perfect roof.
- Lower electricity bills
The electricity produced by your solar system will go towards offsetting your electricity usage and reduce the amount of power you draw from the grid, in turn reducing your power bills. The amount saved will depend on several factors, such as the size of the system installed, how much power you use and the time of day you use most of your power.
Furthermore, any surplus power produced by the system will be fed back to the grid, which you will be paid for and this credit can be used towards offsetting your night-time usage. If a large enough surplus is the produced, you will run into credit that can be transferred directly to your bank account.
- Renewable energy source
Solar power is a completely renewable source of electricity that will not run out. Well not for a very long time anyway. It can be harnessed in many areas of the world but is particularly sustainable in countries that receive a large amount of sunlight making Australia a perfect candidate. By producing excess energy and selling back to the grid you are further reducing the dependence on fossil fuels. A battery can help you store this power and use it at night but until everyone is running off renewable energy (your neighbours in particular) having an oversized PV system without batteries and selling power back to the grid is the most cost effective and the best way to achieve the highest carbon offset without the need to purchase an expensive battery which at this stage have relatively short lifespan and require a lot of energy to produce.
- Reduce carbon footprint
Once installed, harnessing energy from the sun does not release any pollutants into the atmosphere. For as long as the sun is shining, we can utilize the energy it radiates and compared to conventional fossil fuels the pollution levels are significantly less. Even when taking into consideration the total life cycle emissions.
- Combat rising electricity costs
If we look back over the past decade household power prices have increased by roughly 60%, above the rate of inflation. While it is impossible to predict the future based off these figures it’s safe to say that over the next decade the price of power is going to continue increasing. With a lifetime of 25 years, your solar system will future proof your bank account from rising electricity prices.
- Helps keep the house cool
This one is a little controversial and is based off experience and feedback. Installing solar can help to keep the rooms beneath the panels are installed upon cool as they add an extra layer of insulation.
- Low maintenance costs
After a solar system has been installed and connected to the grid, there is little maintenance required to keep a solar system running at maximum capacity. A quick inspection once or twice a year and washing off any debris that has built up is about all you need to do.
As there are no moving parts there is minimal wear and tear, but you can expect to replace the inverter after 10 – 15 years but by that point you will have already got your money back a few times over.
- Rapid technology improvements
Within the solar industry there are rapid improvements and innovations to the technology making the panels more efficient and bringing the prices lower. This is making solar a viable option to an ever-growing number of people.
The greater the adoption of the solar the quicker these advancements are going to be, as there is more money available for research and development.