Solar Pros and Cons
Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Power
Solar electric power, like every other source of energy, has its advantages and disadvantages. The table below lists the major benefits and shortcomings, and how to get around the shortcomings.
In summary, keep this in mind:
- Do not depend on any single source of energy for your vital household functions. ALWAYS have a backup system for at least emergency use.
- Solar electric power is costly to install but pays for itself over time. The high initial cost can be greatly reduced if you build your own solar panels.
|Advantages||Disadvantages||How to compensate
for the disadvantage
|No moving parts – reduces the likelihood of failure||Panels can be damaged by twisting in high winds if they are not properly supported||Reinforced backings and framing supports|
|A simply, small emergency solar power system can be highly portable||Panels can be damaged by debris impacts in high winds, hail, etc.||They can be mounted on ground supports protective plywood or metal panels in the event of strong storms
Some panels are naturally more resistant to damage because of the type of materials used
|Very low recurring cost because sunlight is free. Commercial panels usually have a service life of about 25 years||Panels do eventually wear out because of exposure to sunlight||See above. If the system is only for emergency applications, use covers for when they are not in use|
|Non-polluting. Produces no emissions or noise during use||Almost all solar panel manufacturing occurs overseas = non-local sourcing||Stockpile panels and/or solar cells locally|
|Requires no fuel except sunlight
Is excellent for locations with high exposure to sunlight
|Power depends upon sunlight conditions which is influenced by cloud cover, latitude, time of year, etc.||Build an over-sized system (including additional batteries) to account for lower light conditions.
Some solar panels perform better in low light or partial shade conditions than others.
Have an alternative power system for periods of reduced sunlight.
|Extremely low maintenance cost. While there are many variables, payback time is generally between 1 and 10 years with 3 to 5 years being somewhat typical||High initial cost – may be around $23,000 for a complete 3 kilowatt home system||Solar panels can be built at home relatively easily, reducing the total system cost considerably|