Solar Panels: Three Considerations Before You Invest

March 16, 2009 by  
Filed under Solar Panels

Solar panels can be a great way to power your home with clean, renewable, low-cost energy. But are there any downsides? Before taking on a large project, it’s good to gather all the facts you need to make an informed choice. Read further to learn about three possible concerns so that you can know if you’re making the right investment.

Toxic Materials

Newer solar panels are made with thin film technology that makes them faster, more compact, and easier to manufacture and use than ever before. Unfortunately, some materials used to produce them can actually be harmful to the environment. This would only be an issue when you went to dispose of them. But you should consider that when the time comes, the panels will require safe disposal and special handling. On the positive side, the panels should last at least 20 years before that happens, and by then there may be new developments in recycling and disposal methods that would make it much easier.

New Technology

If you’ve ever seen or read news about new solar technology, you might think that it is evolving at such a fast rate that it would be wisest to wait for what’s coming out next. Research in solar energy is a global industry that is rapidly growing. But not every product that is touted on the news will be available to consumers, even in the long term. The research and development (R&D) process is slow and subject to change. Sometimes there are unforeseen problems or costs that halt the process. To hold out for the next best thing to arrive could be to waste years with no guarantee that a new development could be available to the consumer in the near future. However, an educated consumer has all the power. Professional business journals available at the library have the latest R&D news and market forecast information. There is also copious information available on the internet for anyone with a little bit of research savvy. Then you can better decide whether newer technology is a viable option or a traditional system would be a better investment.

Initial Costs

Although new advances in solar energy technology are making panels easier and faster to produce, the cost of equipment and installation to set up a solar energy system is still much higher than traditional fossil fuel systems. And the panels only work when the sun is shining on them. During the night and during cloudy, overcast weather, your expensive solar equipment is useless. So besides costs for the panels, an investment in significant battery backup is needed to hold energy to use when the sun is not shining.

Any investment warrants careful consideration, and a solar panel energy system is no exception. It is prudent to look into all of the advantages and disadvantages of such a large purchase. However, if you have a passion to contribute to a clean environment and sustain a green lifestyle, the advantages of solar panels far outweigh the disadvantages. Harnessing energy from the sun to power homes and business is one of the greatest advancements in environmental conservation, and promises to bring great things in the future.