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Friday, August 7, 2009

Solar Power Advantages and Disadvantages

Everywhere you turn, from TV or advocacy groups to the Obama administration, people are talking about solar power. What causes all of this interest in solar electricity? While it is the many advantages that excite so many people, there are also some disadvantages. If you have some know-how and are willing to put in some work yourself, most of the disadvantages can be overcome.


Infinite energy source

There is a never-ending supply of solar energy because it is produced by the sun all the time. Every day, all year the sun is producing energy. While fossil fuels like natural gas and oil will eventually run out, solar energy will continue to be available until the sun disappears and at that point we'll have a lot bigger problems to be worried about than how to power our air conditioners. As fossil fuels become more and more scarce, the cost will continue to increase. The opposite is true of solar electricity! It will never run out and the cost will continue to go down as technology gets better and better.

Free energy

Power from the sun will continue to be free as long as the sun is shining. Aside from battery replacement, if batteries are used in the solar power system, there is virtually no ongoing cost for solar power. If you install enough solar panels, you can disconnect from the power company and never pay an electric bill again. This is called living off grid. If you can generate more energy than you need, you can stay connected to the grid and actually sell the extra electricity to the power company!

No greenhouse gasses

For people who are concerned about global warming, solar energy is the answer! Fossil fuels like oil and natural gas produce a lot of greenhouse gasses, but solar power produces none at all. If you wish to lower your carbon footprint, solar electricity is a great way to do it. There are no emissions of any kind produced by solar power.

Lower dependence on foreign oil

Dependence on foreign oil is widely considered one of the biggest security threats today. Using solar power will reduce dependence on foreign oil. Any power that is currently produced with foreign oil can be directly replaced by domestically produced solar electricity.


Initial cost

Most people consider initial cost to the be the biggest disadvantages to solar electricity. The initial cost of solar panels can be quite high, while the ongoing costs of solar electricity are very small. With the required know-how, the initial cost can be reduced a great deal by building solar panels yourself.

Required space

Solar panels must be oriented so they point to the south and also need enough space for all the panels. Solar panels work best in areas that get a lot of sun. There are solar maps available that show the average sun in different areas. A larger score means that a solar panel of the same size will produce more electricity than a solar panel in an area with a smaller score. You will need more solar panels to generate sufficient electricity to power your house if you live in an area with a lower score.

As you can see, there are advantages and disadvantages to solar electricity. The advantages of solar power, however, outweigh the disadvantages and you can avoid most of the disadvantages by building your own solar panels.

If you want to see how much it would cost to install enough solar panels to power your home and get a spreadsheet to do the calculations, please check out Solar Panel Cost.

If you are looking for instructions on how to build your own solar panel, take a look at DIY Solar Panel.

By Eric Moore

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