Generate Your Own Electricity: The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Solar Energy

Submitted by: Ryan Wiley

With rising energy prices, rolling blackouts, and diminishing supplies of fossil fuels, many people are turning to solar power. This article is here to help you decide if converting to solar power is a good choice for you. It will do so, by giving an honest account of both the advantages and disadvantages of solar power, paying particular attention to cost, usability, the environment, and energy independence.


The rising cost of fossil fuels is what drives most people to solar energy. We have to be fair, though. While it s true that the sun s energy is totally free, there are costs associated with grabbing it and turning it into electricity that can be used to power our homes. The major disadvantage of solar power, in relation to cost, is the up front expenditure for solar panels and their installation. A high quality, professional solar installation can cost up to $20,000, a major disadvantage indeed. Can anything be done about these costs?

Yes, you can lower the costs of a solar installation in two ways. One, if you are a handy DIY kind of person, you can build high quality solar panels yourself, which will cut your costs dramatically. Secondly, you can apply for state and federal grants that subsidize the cost of a professional installation. The value of these grants is quite high, depending on which state you live in.

The major advantage of solar power, in relation to cost, is that once your solar panels are installed, you will never have to pay for electricity again, and, over time, this will more than make up for the upfront cost of your solar panel installation.

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The obvious disadvantage of solar power in regards to usability is that the sun only shines for half of each day. It can also be partially blocked by clouds. This means that at night, when we need to turn on the lights, our solar panels can t produce any power. Of course, we can overcome this problem by installing a battery bank that gets charged up during the day and drawn down at night.

The major advantage of solar power, in regards to usability, is that it uses a power source, the sun, that is never going to run out. Fossil fuels, at some point, are going to go dry. Nobody disputes that fact. The sun, on the other hand, well, if the sun goes out we are in big trouble.

The Environment

People often believe that there are no negative environmental effects associated with solar power. There is one problem with solar power in this regard, however batteries. We must use batteries to store our power, and these batteries do not last forever. And if these batteries are not properly disposed of, their harsh chemicals can damage the environment.

The generation of electricity with solar power causes absolutely no harm to the environment. There is no smoke, no toxic waste, no carbon output nothing. Producing power with solar energy is clean and green, and that is, perhaps, the biggest overall advantage of solar power.

Energy Independence

Having energy independence is another thing that people think has no disadvantages. What about if you have a power failure, though? What if bad weather knocks out your solar panels? Can you fix it yourself? If not, you are going to have to find someone who can, and this is not always easy. Compare that to being on the grid utility companies keep teams of full-time technicians to ensure that you get uninterrupted power.

Of course, when on the grid, you are at the mercy of the power company, which is not always nice. They can, and do, raise and lower prices and cut off power altogether when there are energy shortages. Being energy independent means that you are just like the name suggests independent. You control your own fate in terms of power usage, and that can be a very liberating feeling.

Is solar power right for you? Well, that probably depends on whether or not you can overcome the biggest disadvantage of solar power the initial costs of a solar installation. If you can do it yourself, or if you live in a state that has large incentives, solar power is probably right for you.

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