In this post we are going to briefly discuss the main advantages and the main disadvantages of solar panels in the hope that you can gain a better understanding of how they can work for you and whether they are suitable for your home or not.
- Free Electricity to power your household appliances and electricity supply
- The ability to earn an income through the feed in tariff scheme.
- You are saving the environment
- Reduced emissions by over 1 tonne per year
Of course, these advantages are fairly common knowledge to anyone who knows anything at all about solar panels and the technology they use. The fact that you can produce a portion of you electricity completely free of charge is one of the major draws of renewable energy, but perhaps more so is the ability to earn an income through the feed in tariff. This is completely tax free and could see you paying off the cost of your solar panels in around ten years. The income you receive over the following 15 years that you are able to take feed in tariff payments would then be pure profit (with the exception of your inverter that may need replacing at around 10-15 years).
The other great advantage of solar PV panels is their benefit to the environment. By installing them on your home you are reducing the amount of electricity that needs to be produced by traditional means, namely the burning of coal and nuclear power. Both of which are rapidly damaging our environment and destroying the homes and habitats of many beautiful species of wildlife worldwide. A typical installation will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by over 1 tonne every year.
- High cost of entry
- Recent cuts to the feed in tariff
- Current technology is relatively inefficient
- Only effective during the day
The main disadvantage to solar panels is the high cost of entry. Currently, a typically sized installation on a domestic home will cost around £8,000-£10,000. This is a large amount of cash to spend in one go and you should think carefully as to whether it is the right investment for you. The decision to buy solar panels or not isn’t as clear cut as it once was. Last year, in 2011, the feed in tariff rate was double what it is currently, meaning you could easily earn over £1000 per year completely tax free. Now you will be looking at a value closer to £600. This means that it will take much longer to pay off the initial investment, so, from a money-making point of view you need to do some careful calculations to determine whether or not they are worthwhile.
Current solar panel technology is also relatively inefficient, with an average efficiency of around 20%. however technology has already been developed with a 40% efficiency so it is likely that in the coming years, we will see solar panels that are able to produce much more electricity from the same amount of sunlight.
One of the major disadvantages that unfortunately will never be overcome is the fact that solar panels will only ever work during the day. For many people, this is also the time when the least amount of electricity is being consumed in their home – many people work throughout the day and require electricity to cook dinner and light their home in the evening, often when there is no remaining sunlight. Fortunately, the electricity produced during the day can be used by other homes connected to the national grid thanks to the Feed in Tariff, but this is still a key drawback, and will be until the time comes when electricity from solar cells can be stored and used as required.
If you are thinking about installing solar panels on your home then hopefully this post has given you something to think about. Let us know what you think in the comments below!