If you have been looking at your energy bill lately and thinking of reducing its charges, solar energy must be on your list of alternatives. Solar power allows you to harness sunlight and turn it into electricity. You can even fully disconnect from your main electrical grid or reduce your dependency on it. The advantages of solar energy are substantial over conventional energy sources. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its flaws; solar-powered homes come with their own set of drawbacks but they are dwarfed by what advantages they offer.
First things first, let’s discuss what solar energy is and how it is produced!
What is Solar Energy ?
Solar energy is the radiant light generated by nuclear fusion in the sun. It takes just 8 minutes for that energy to make the multi-million-mile trip to earth. Every hour, the earth gets enough solar energy to power the entire world for a year. Brilliant, right?
This impressive feat of the sun tells us how much potential energy Mother Earth is receiving. So we humans invented solar panels to trap that energy from the sun and turn it into electricity that powers our lives. The concept of converting solar energy into current was introduced by Charles Fritts. Today’s photovoltaic-based solar panels came into operation in 1894 through Melvin Severy. The concept of storing energy in thermal batteries was brought to the world’s attention by Harry Reagan. Bell laboratories replaced silicon with selenium in the 1950s and we got our modern solar panels.
So, How Do Solar Panels Work?
Solar panels can capture the energy from the sun and convert it into usable energy for buildings, homes, or swimming pools. Solar panels are made up of photovoltaic cells that convert the energy of the sunlight to an electric current to power your building or home.
- Each panel is made of silicon cells encased by a metal frame and glass casing which absorbs the sunlight.
- Each silicon cell has a thin semiconductor wafer embedded in it which has two layers: positively and negatively charged, to create an electric field. The photons from the sunlight break the electrons loose which creates an electric current (DC).
- The panels either have a single inverter for the entire system or microinverters behind the panels to convert the direct current into alternating current (AC).
- This AC now runs through your power supply system and powers your appliances.
Solar Energy: The Answer to The Green Energy Conundrum
Solar energy is indeed one of the best sources of energy the universe has given us. They are especially useful if you are living in a temperate climatic region with less rain and more sunshine for the majority of the year. So if you are wondering what are the advantages and limitations of solar energy, let us tell you that the advantages of solar energy surpass its limitation. Here’s why you need to consider solar panels as your best alternative to conventional energy sources:
1.Reduce Environmental Pollution
Renewable energy: Solar energy is almost 100% clean compared to fossil fuels which significantly leave the environment polluted. The burying of fossil fuels releases about 21 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide into the environment every year. To add to that, a typical American home generates about 14,920 pounds of carbon dioxide annually. However, solar panels can help in decreasing your emissions by more than 3,000 pounds annually.
Noise pollution: If you are worried about noise pollution, you have made a good choice with solar panels. When compared to other sources of renewable energy like residential wind turbines, solar panels provide cleaner and silent energy since there are no moving parts that can make noise.
Air pollution: By decreasing air pollution, your solar can prevent almost $167 billion in health and environmental damages and can almost save 25,000 lives. In the city of New York, a household with renewable energy sources like solar panels switches the carbon emissions of over 5,000 pounds of coal.
Tax deductions: If you install solar panels through state and federal incentive programs it may save you money. You can go through your own state’s incentive program to know what kind of discount one may be eligible for, as some may offer tax deductions for up to 30% of installation costs. If you want to improve your home with solar power, it could save you between $10,000 to $30,000 over an almost twenty-year period.
Inverter costs: But it may also depend on your location, home size, and electricity usage. Once solar power is installed, maintenance will be relatively simple, you need to clean the panels a few times a year, change the inverter once every 5-10 years, and do occasional maintenance of the cables.
A solar upgrade to the home can offer independence from traditional energy sources and solar energy can help insulate you from inevitable rising energy costs. Solar energy is unlimitedly unrenewable (roughly it is 10,000 times more than what humans require). Capturing a mere 0.02% of sunlight on earth is enough to replace every other energy source in existence.
Here’s an interesting and notable fact: Earth’s albedo (sunlight reflected back to space) is roughly 52 petawatts. This is approximately equivalent to
- 400 hurricanes
- 50 million 747s running every year
- Worldwide oil, gas, and coal production for 387 years
- 250,000 years of Britain’s energy requirements
- 75 million cars
- 1 million Hoover Dams
(Aah, not forget 1 million fictional DeLorean time machines!)
4. You Could Go Off-grid
Electricity costs: If you want freedom from utility companies with predictable electric bills then home solar panels and a home battery can offer great help. This will help you to avoid peak electricity rates and also provide reliable backup power when the grid goes down.
Over the past ten years, electricity costs have drastically risen by 15%, and this is a trend that is likely to continue. Solar service agreements, however, can offer lower and more predictable rates that are typically inexpensive than the electric company’s rates. So when you go solar you can expect, on average, to pay less for power.
Blackout gain: When you use solar energy at your home it will also give you freedom from the next blackout. The United States faces the highest number of power-outage minutes of any developed nation, and this is only likely to increase in an aging power grid and face extreme weather events.
Remote areas: Several remote areas do not come under the electricity grid. These 1.8 billion houses worldwide can benefit from solar panels. They have drastically improved the quality of life in these areas along with improving overall health and environmental concerns.
5. Increases Home Value
Another benefit of solar energy and solar batteries is the increase in home value. Here are things your house will achieve once you install solar panels in them:
- Across the United States, solar panels raise the value of a home by 4.1% on average.
- This means a home valued at $500,000 can be increased by $20,500.
- Specific numbers may vary between each installation and property but typically for each kilowatt of solar panels installed, the resale value increases an average of $4,020 – $5,911.
- The average cost of rooftop solar panels and their batteries is typically recouped in the sale price of the house.
- Households that purchase solar panels are also awarded healthy tax incentives and lower energy bills. The incentives are enough to cover the costs of the system multiple times over the life of its warranty.
- The length of time that your solar-powered home is on the market may often vary by region of the country.
- A solar energy installation can help you to sell your home 20% faster than residences that do not have solar panels.
6. Low Cost of Solar Panels
In recent years the cost of home solar systems has fallen dramatically, in just the last decade the costs have fallen more than 70%. The cost of home solar batteries has dropped substantially.
The Bottom Line: What are The Advantages of Solar Energy?
Solar energy is the most efficient form of renewable energy on earth. It gives you electrical independence to go off-grid, saves you a ton of money in the long run, helps you live a greener lifestyle, and provide greener jobs. The initial expenses of installing solar panels are high but worth the investment. They take advantage of net metering and government tax credits.
Now the advantage of solar energy in India is that for every blackout in the summer, you will have a constant power supply. The hottest summers mean the most efficient day for solar panels. The top two advantages of solar energy are that it doesn’t cost you a monthly electricity bill and that you leave no carbon footprint on Mother Earth.