The debate over solar energy advantages and disadvantages has been going on for over a decade.  In that time some of the issues and resistance has been silenced by increases in solar technology but there are still valid points on the effect solar energy can have on a household.  If you are already leaning one way or the other and have done your research, than this article may not have much sway on your opinion.  For those who want an impartial introduction to the argument over solar than I hope this gives you a solid footing on your future decisions on solar energy.

Solar Advantages

Solar Energy Advantages and DisadvantagesCredit: Wikimedia.orgThe main appeal of solar energy has always been that is an endless supply of clean energy.  There is no energy source more infinite to our world than the Sun.  While this is great in theory and motive we are going to look at the more practical advantages of solar power.

  • There is no pollution in the collection of solar energy.  While there is some pollution in the manufacturing of the solar cells themselves the pollution output is zero after installation.
  • The power source, the Sun, is renewable.  Burning a chunk of coal or a gallon of gas subtracts from the total amount of coal and gas that we posses.  We do not run out of sunlight.
  • After the purchase and installation costs there is no charge for gathering solar energy unlike getting a monthly heating bill.
  • Solar cells have a drastically longer lifespan than gas, oil, or even geothermal heating systems.  In some cases they can outlive the owners.
  • Solar powered devices are very diverse.  As the solar cell technology allows smaller surfaces to gather more energy the amount of home devices that can run on 100% solar power will increase.

Solar Disadvantages

Solar energy, for all of its benefits, is not with out its detractors.  While some just see it as silly those arguments don't really stand up.  However, there are legitimate concerns to the viability of solar power as a primary method of energy collection.

  • Solar power collection does not work at night.  For half of a day your equipment will gather no energy.  While there are solar batteries to collect in the day and disperse during the evening it does not solve the problem of no new energy for such a long period.
  • Solar equipment is more expensive compared to nearly every other home heating or cooling system.  Like most alternative energy systems the payback comes up to a decade later.  Some people just can't lay out the money even if they believe in the benefits of the technology.
  • Solar cells need a large area to collect sufficient amounts of power.  This is the primary reason you see so many rooftop solar installations as the system would take up much of a standard backyard.  This is a major hinderance in cities and urban locations as surface space is at a premium.
  • Not all locations lend themselves to solar power.  If your home is covered by a lot of shade or you live in a region that tends to be very cloudy or rainy, than you narrow the window of solar collection to the point where you may never get a return on your investment.

The Verdict

Solar energy has a compelling list for both the pro and con.  It largely comes down to two factors: desire and location.  The upfront cost is staggering and while that can be helped with government tax breaks for renewable energy renovations, a large part of the costs will fall to you.  You would really need to believe in both the promise and the cause of solar energy.  The technology is improving to the point where we are seeing a drop in installation costs but it is still much more expensive than the standard options.

Location will trump desire.  If you live in a place that just isn't friendly to solar collection than no amount of belief in the advantages of solar energy will make it work.  If you do not receive regular sun, than solar is a poor choice for home heating and cool.  The debate of solar energy advantages and disadvantages will continue for decades to come.  Solar energy is the poster child of renewable energy and some people will continue to add to the negatives for no other reason than defense of traditional methods.  However, this is a personal choice.  Look at both sides and see if solar power is for you.