solar power pros and cons

Pros and cons of solar energy

If you’re considering installing a solar panel system, it’s important to consider the benefits and drawbacks of going solar. In this article, we’ll outline some of the most important pros and cons of installing solar.

Solar is a revolutionary energy solution for property owners of any type, but like any energy decision, choosing to go solar has various advantages and disadvantages you should keep in mind. Of all the common benefits and drawbacks that come with going solar, here are a few of the ones that consistently rise to the top:

Key takeaways: comparing the pros and cons of solar energy

  • Rooftop solar panels aren’t the perfect fit for everyone, but that’s okay. Like any other home efficiency product, solar panels provide clear benefits to homeowners that are in need of energy upgrades and electricity bill reduction. Not everyone fits that description.
  • The pros of solar outweigh the cons in most situations: for most solar shoppers, the benefit of saving on electricity bills is enough to make solar worth it! Adding increased home value and insulation against rising energy costs only sweetens the deal.
  • The best way to compare solar quotes for your property is to sign up on the EnergySage Marketplace – start comparing offers from high-quality solar installer today, for free.

What’s in this article?

Top solar energy pros and cons

Pros of solar energyCons of solar energy
Lower your electric billDoesn't work for every roof type
Improve the value of your homeNot ideal if you're about to move
Reduce your carbon footprintBuying panels can be expensive
Combat rising electricity costsLow electricity costs = lower savings
Earn money back on your investmentFinding local solar installers can be difficult
Solar is a versatile energy source
Solar electricity can be sold back to the grid

The main advantages of solar energy are that it helps you lower your electric bill, raise your home value, reduce your carbon footprint, combat rising electricity costs, and earn money back on your investment. On the other hand, the key disadvantages of solar energy include that it doesn’t work for every roof, it’s not ideal if you’re about to move, the upfront cost can be expensive, savings can be low if your electricity bills are low, and finding a local installer can be difficult.

The advantages of going solar

There are many benefits of installing a solar system on your home or business. Here are is our list of the most important advantages of solar energy to keep in mind:

  1. Solar reduces/eliminates electric bills
  2. Solar panels improve the value of your home
  3. Going solar reduces your carbon emissions
  4. A solar installation protects against rising energy costs
  5. You can earn money back on your solar investment
  6. Solar is a versatile energy source
  7. Solar electricity can be sold back to the grid
  8. Solar panels require very little maintenance

1. Solar can drastically reduce or eliminate your electric bills

This top benefit of solar panels is pretty straightforward – when you install solar power for your home, you generate your own electricity, become less reliant on your electric utility and reduce your monthly electric bill. A solar panel system typically has a 25-35 year lifespan, which means that you can cut your electricity costs for decades to come by going solar. Additionally, the cost of solar has decreased by more than 70 percent in the past decade, the cost of electricity has risen by about five percent, and that trend in rising electric cost is expected to continue. Going solar can help you gain control in the face of these rising costs.  Use this instant estimate tool to get a customized estimate of your long-term electricity bill savings and review personalized projections for up-front cost and 20-year solar savings.

2. Solar improves the value of your home

Millions of U.S. homeowners are interested in solar panels but haven’t taken the time to figure out what it takes to install them. This consumer reality and the undeniable benefits of having solar panels on a home complements recent studies that found property values increase after solar is installed. Thus, the second “pro” of solar can help to level out one of the cons that we discussed earlier – even if you’re planning on moving in the near future, you’ll earn back your solar panel investment and then some when you sell your home.

3. Solar reduces carbon emissions

Solar is a clean, renewable source of energy that can help reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions and lower our impact on the natural environment. Unlike traditional fossil fuels like coal and oil, solar energy does not lead directly to pollutants (like carbon dioxide) being released into the atmosphere and water supply. Even compared to nuclear energy, solar comes out on top in terms of being a more environmentally friendly solution.

solar reduces carbon emissions

5. Solar can pay you money while you’re earning back your investment

Due to a number of awesome solar incentives in the U.S., solar panels can actually turn you a profit in addition to generating bill savings that pay off the cost of the system. Solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) and net metering are two key advantages of solar energy that allow you to earn bill credits (or even extra cash) as your solar panel system produces electricity. In these scenarios, you are being compensated for the electricity that your solar panels generate. If you live in a state where either of these incentives apply, you can expect both immediate and long-term returns from your solar investment. 

6. Solar is the most versatile form of alternative energy

Unlike other types of alternative energy like wind energy which needs wide open spaces with ample wind changes and hydroelectric power which needs a large water source, solar energy can be used in essentially every environment. This makes solar energy the versatile form of clean alternative energy. While output is lower on cloudy days or in climates without as much regular sun exposure, solar panels are always working. No matter where you live, solar energy is a great investment.

7. Solar electricity can be sold back to the grid

Depending on where you live, you could be eligible for net metering. Net metering is an electric billing tool that uses the electric grid to store excess energy produced by your solar panel system. Under net metering, energy your solar panels produce and you don’t use is credited back to you. This means that you could potentially receive a credit toward your bill for unused energy and essentially sell solar energy back to the electric grid.

selling solar energy back to the grid

8. Solar requires very little maintenance and full installation

If you choose a qualified installer with EnergySage, the installation process will be handled completely by qualified professionals. Once your panels are installed, they require very little maintenance compared to other forms of energy production. With only some cleaning needed after snow or inclement weather.

Cons of solar energy explained

Solar isn’t perfect – here are five disadvantages of solar energy to keep in mind when considering panels:

  1. Solar doesn’t work for every roof type
  2. It’s not ideal if you’re about to move
  3. Low electricity costs = low savings
  4. Upfront costs can be high
  5. Finding the right installer can be a challenging process

1. Solar panels don’t work for every type of roof

Rooftop solar panels are installed by connecting a mounting system (also known as “racking”) to your roof. Certain roofing materials used in older or historical homes, such as slate or cedar tiles, can be difficult for solar installers to work with, throwing up a roadblock for solar power. Additionally, many homes and apartment buildings have skylights or other rooftop additions like roof decks that can make the solar installation process difficult or costly. In the long run, however, this shouldn’t be a barrier to the mass adoption of solar power in the U.S. If your home doesn’t qualify for a rooftop solar installation, you still have options: ground-mounted solar panels or buying a share in a community solar garden can get you around this disadvantage of solar energy.

2. Solar isn’t ideal if you’re about to move

Solar is a great financial investment, but it can take some time to reach the break-even point so often heralded by industry sales reps. The average solar panel payback period in the U.S. is around seven and a half years. For a young homeowner who may be moving in the coming years, putting solar panels on his or her roof might feel like an unworthy investment. But, as you’ll learn later in this article, solar can actually improve your property value and thus increase your return when you do sell your home. So as long as you plan to buy your system with a cash purchase or loan, this disadvantage of solar energy can be easily avoided.

3. If your electricity costs are low, so are your solar savings

The ultimate benefit of solar energy is that it will reduce your use of utility-provided electricity and save you money every month as a result.  However, that condition assumes a homeowner has sizable electric bills to begin with. For a homeowner in a state like Louisiana where the cost of electricity is 25+ percent lower than the national average, installing a solar panel system isn’t nearly as attractive as it is to a Hawaii homeowner who pays more than double the average electric rate.

4. If you can’t access solar financing, up-front solar costs can be intimidating

There’s a nationwide debate going on about how much homeowners have to pay out-of-pocket for solar. The total out-of-pocket price tag for a solar panel system depends on tax credits, rebates, and the financing option you choose. Though you can easily get a figure for the average cost of solar in your state or even a personalized estimate for your home, the simple answer is that the up-front cost of solar is sizable if you don’t qualify for a zero-down solar loan.

The disadvantage of solar energy here is clear: not everyone has the cash on hand to make an investment of this size with an up-front payment. That being said, there are a number of solar financing options to help you get around this solar con such as state-backed loan programs, leases and power purchase agreements.

5. Finding quality, local solar installers and easily comparing quotes can be difficult

There’s a common association that many homeowners have with solar. It has to do with pushy door-to-door solar sales reps that pressure consumers to sign a 20-year solar contract before they explain the full scope of the offer or the credibility of the solar company. Solar is one of the fastest growing markets in the world, and there are plenty of companies that are deploying aggressive sales tactics to get their fair share of the market. As a result, for many people, shopping for solar can be a stressful and confusing scenario. Luckily, there are easier ways to shop for solar that puts the homeowner in control. The EnergySage Marketplace is a 100% online comparison-shopping platform that allows you to compare solar quotes from top pre-screened installers in your area.

Is solar energy worth the investment?

While there are high upfront costs, going solar can be worth it for most homeowners with eligible properties. Solar is an increasingly more affordable renewable energy source that can help you reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save money.

Frequently asked questions about solar energy

As you consider making an investment in solar energy, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons as they relate to your home, geography and climate, and unique needs. Check out a few of the most common questions we get from buyers to learn more: 

What are the top advantages of solar energy?

The top advantages of solar energy are that it reduces electricity bills, increases the value of your home, cuts back on carbon emissions, protects against rising electricity costs, and it helps you earn money back on your investment.

What are the top disadvantages of solar energy?

Disadvantages of solar energy include a high initial cost, an inability to work on every roof type, and it may be difficult to find a local installer depending on where you live.

Is solar energy good for the environment? 

Solar is a form of renewable energy that has numerous environmental benefits and leads to cleaner water and air. The only factor that some consider to be a downside is that that there is a lack of recycling options for solar panels. Learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of renewable energy on our blog, and see what solar panel recycling options are available to you. 

Start your solar journey today on EnergySage

The best way to take advantage of all that solar has to offer is to compare quotes. On the EnergySage Marketplace, you’ll receive up to seven, free quotes from installers in your area so you can easily compare your options, allowing you to find a system that meets your needs at the right price. Want a quick estimate of what a solar installation will cost? Check out our solar calculator.

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About Jacob Marsh

Jacob is a researcher and content writer at EnergySage, where he's an expert on current issues–and new technology!–in the solar industry. With a background in environmental and geological science, Jacob brings an analytical perspective and passion for conservation to help solar shoppers make the right energy choices for their wallet and the environment. Outside of EnergySage, you can find him playing Ultimate Frisbee or learning a new, obscure board game.

52 thoughts on “Pros and cons of solar energy

  1. Charlotte Fleet

    It is great to know that solar energy can reduce or eliminate your electric bills entirely. My husband and I want to cut back costs. We’ll have to invest in solar panels.

  2. Enviro Energie

    Well world need to go for solar power instead of any other way of power. Its more eco friendly than any other way.


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