Solar myths are a hot topic of conversation. You can find articles citing them here, here, and here. For simplicity’s sake, we’ve distilled the most common solar myths out there into the five most common that we hear among potential (or sometimes nervous) customers.
1) Solar isn’t good for my bottom line right now. There will be cheaper systems in the future.
Financing is by far the most common topic of conversation when it comes to installing solar. For a quick review, read through our CEO’s post here. Now, here are the high points:
- While solar used to be accessible mainly to those with cash on hand for a substantial down payment, financing has wildly changed. In some cases, it might make sense to choose an option that saves you money as early as your first electric bill post installation (yes, it is possible). Of course, you’ll want to carefully review the terms with your salesperson but in many cases, this is very feasible.
- If you are in a home that you plan on eventually selling, also consider the resale benefits. In a recent market study, an average home with solar sold at a $15,000 premium over a comparable home without solar. This might sound scary when it comes to property taxes, but if you are the homeowner that installs solar, you are exempt from any property tax increase.
- Waiting under the guise that solar technology will vastly change in the future is a dangerous trap to fall into. First, solar technology is different than computer or even cell phone technology. It is slow to change. Truth be told, we are using the same solar panel technology now that we did a few decades ago, though panels have gradually become more efficient. What are all these advances you hear about? They are laboratory based demonstrations that always take years before they even have a chance to become commercially viable, though they are neat to read about.
- Finally, remember that solar is an investment. As solar becomes more main stream, we will likely see tax incentives disappear and credits from utility companies change. In fact, the federal tax credit is scheduled to start phasing out in 2020. If you can find a solar financing option that pencils for you now, as many people do, take advantage of the low risk, large (10-15 percent) returns that you will be rewarded with. Why wait to start saving money, gambling that someday you may save even more?
2) Solar is ugly and high maintenance.
- While solar technology hasn’t changed much, solar product design has. Today’s solar panels are sleek and less obtrusive compared to those that were installed a few years ago. There are also roof integrated solar shingle and tile products in addition to ground-mounted systems that can be installed as an alternative to traditional rooftop systems.
- As for the maintenance, unless you live in a climate that doesn’t get much rain, all you have to do is sit back and watch your system save you money. If you live in the desert where it might only rain once or twice a year, then you may need to hose down the panels periodically to keep them performing optimally.
3) Solar will cause roof leaks or damage.
- Unfortunately, this myth is actually 20 percent true. Up to one in five homeowners who install solar systems experience roofing problems tied to the solar installation, which is why choosing a contractor is so important. At Solar Roof Dynamics, we solved this problem by creating our Signature Dealer Network. We only allow vetted, experienced roofing contractors to install solar for our customers. The good news: When installed properly, solar panels can actually protect and extend the life of your roof with the added protection they offer. Just make sure you are in the 80% by choosing a reputable contractor.
4) Power outages will not affect me anymore.
- When the grid goes down, grid-tied solar electric systems automatically turn off. This is to protect the utility workers that are working to reestablish power to the grid. The only way to have solar powered electricity when the grid goes down is to be off-grid or to have a hybrid storage system. Unfortunately, energy storage for home use, generally speaking, still doesn’t pencil out. If it is critical that you have power during outages, it is much more cost effective to just buy a generator. Yes, it isn’t as good for the environment as solar, but most people won’t pay the premium to have enough storage for the 4 hours a year that they lose power. There is a lot of hype about storage solutions coming to market soon, but it remains unclear when we will start to see systems that make financial sense. Here in California where we don’t see lots of power outages, it isn’t really a big deal. In markets where power can go out for days at a time (think Florida hurricanes), having a plan B power plan is a bit more critical.
5) I don’t live in the right climate to install solar.
- If you attended our solar fair and watched the Catching the Sun documentary, you learned that Germany is leading the way in converting to solar energy. However even if you visit Germany in the middle of the summer, we advise you to bring a sweater with all of its overcast days! The truth is, solar works just fine in ambient light (ever wondered why you still get sunburned in the fog?), which is why you also see solar panels all over San Francisco. The true mitigating factor of solar is the orientation of your roof to the sun, which is again why you want an experienced contractor consulting with you on the most efficient installation.
Thanks for reading! If you have any questions, we’d love to hear from you!