In this continuing four-part series, we will explore some of the most common myths and misconceptions about residential solar energy systems. Here are three more myths that often lead people to dismiss solar as an option for their home.
Solar panels don’t last very long.
A common misconception is that solar panels will lose their efficiency after just a few years, making the investment in a home solar system too expensive without an adequate payback.
The fact is that the majority of solar panels manufactured today operate with optimal efficiency for 20-25 years. Even after this time, solar panels still continue to operate normally but with somewhat reduced capacity.
According to a 2012 study conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, solar panels have an average degradation rate of 0.8% per year. Since then, technology has improved, and the newest solar panels now average a 0.5% (half of one percent) output degradation per year with some brands averaging as low as 0.3%.
To put this in perspective, this means that in year two of solar panel operation, it will be producing 99.5% of what it did when it was first installed. Using the 0.5% rate of degradation over 25 years, a solar panel will only lose 12.5% of its output. Even after this time, the panel continues producing electricity and can last for another 20-30 years before any substantial output degradation occurs. Furthermore we use these same degradation numbers when we produce solar proposals.
This really isn’t surprising considering that solar panels have no moving parts and remain in a fixed position throughout their useful life. When compared to other major investments such as automobiles, solar panels provide the most payback for your dollar.
Solar panels require a lot of maintenance.
Because solar panels are durable, contain no moving parts, and remain in a fixed position throughout their useful life, there really isn’t much to worry about when it comes to maintaining your system. That’s not to say it’s maintenance free, but there is not much to do.
At Shine, we recommend that you inspect your system regularly. Be sure the panels are not covered with dirt or debris that may have accumulated over time. If there is a buildup of dirt, you can easily clean your solar panels with a garden hose and detergent so that the sunlight is unobstructed. You can also guard against any snow accumulation by purchasing a special snow rake at your local home improvement store or online.
Also, periodically check that outdoor animals such as squirrels and birds don’t nest under your system, which can cause damage to the wiring. Specialty products such as wire mesh can be installed with your system to prevent this from happening. You can also request an inspection from your installer every few years just to be sure everything is in working order or to make any upgrades (such as critter guards) you may feel necessary.
Going solar means I’m off the grid.
A very common misconception is that once you install solar panels on your home, that you’re off the electric grid.
In fact, almost all home solar systems remain tied to the grid and work in conjunction with it to sell the excess power it generates back to your utility and to provide power during periods when the sun isn’t shining, such as during the evening hours.
This is made possible by installing a special bi-directional meter on your home. We call this net metering. This is a state law that requires electric utilities to buy back the excess power your solar panel system generates at an established rate, which is returned to you as a credit on your electric bill. With the exception of Tennessee, every state that Shine serves has a net metering law in place.
However, if you truly want to be off the grid entirely, you can do so with the purchase and installation of a home battery storage system. This will allow you to generate and store all the power you need without ever relying on your local electric utility. At Shine, we sell several different types of home battery systems to meet your individual needs. If this is something you are interested in, give us a call at 844-80-SHINE for a free estimate.
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