Pros & Cons of Solar Panels

By Debra Durkee
Pros & Cons of Solar Panels
Thomas Springer, 2004

In recent years, scientists have become increasingly aware of the fact that many of our energy sources are non-renewable. These same scientists are always on the lookout for new, renewable, cleaner energy sources. Solar panels are used to harness the sun's energy, but are not without pros and cons.

Pro: Accessibility

Solar panels allow a home or structure to get energy from somewhere other than a main power grid. Therefore, there is no need to run long power lines to a home. This can be especially beneficial for structures that are well off the beaten path.

Pro: Long-term Efficiency

Once solar panels are installed, they begin making up for their initial installation investment. Those planning on relying completely on solar panels begin to see a return on their investment immediately, with no more electric bills. Solar panels have also been shown to be very low-maintenance.

Pro: Incentives

There are a number of federal and government incentives that are being offered to those who decide to install solar panels on their homes. Incentives include tax credits for homes and businesses. Solar panels also raise the value of a home or business.

Con: Positioning

Solar panels must be carefully placed in order to receive the maximum amount of energy from the sun. They are no where near as efficient in cloudy areas, and can also be less effective around heavy tree cover.

Con: Initial Expense

The initial cost of installing solar panels in a home can be quite hefty. Studies, including those by UC Berkeley, show that widespread use of solar panels on a residential level may not yet be a financially viable option.

Con: Impact of Geography

Solar panels depend not only on the strength of the sunlight they receive, but on the number of hours in the day that the sun is out. Therefore, the closer the location of the solar panels to the poles, the less daylight time there is, and the less efficient they will be.