Five Things People Get Wrong About Solar

Since solar has "taken off" as a consumer business model within the last 10 years, homeowners are at times apprehensive to install a system on their roof even if they’re supportive of green energy. Some think it may be a "scam" due to miseducation, some assume it’s too expensive, or just don’t want to commit to the installation and a 20-25 year agreement if they don't have the financial means to buy it outright.

The reality is that due to federal and state regulations, solar is something to take advantage of if your home qualifies — there are different options to fit the needs of each homeowner and help produce as much savings as possible when making the switch. But let’s get down to the nitty gritty — addressing the 5 common misconceptions about solar — and we’ll take it from there. We'll help settle any misconceptions you may have so that you can make the best decision for you and your family.

1. Solar is a Scam. It Won’t Save Me Any Money!

One "catch-22" that solar advocates face is qualifying their home. Solar installers must first factor in how much electricity is used and how expensive the monthly bill is, and then consider roof space, azimuth (the direction the roof is facing) and shading on the property — among other factors. Yes, solar can actually be exclusive, so be sure to celebrate being one of the "lucky ones" when you qualify!

Another factor in qualifying, of course, is where you live. If you’re able to purchase a system (ranging anywhere from $15K to $35K for a standard installation, depending on the system size), then you’re able to take advantage of the of the 30% federal tax credit that was implemented in 2006. As the owner of the system, you can also reap the benefits of additional incentives, which vary from state to state. If you choose a financial agreement (either a PPA, loan, or a lease) through a solar installer, qualifying will be dependent on what state you live in — it's more affordable to go solar in some states over others, depending on if PPAs (power purchase agreements), loans and leases are available.

We’ll be real with you: Solar panel systems can be pricey to own if you’re not a business owner, which is why the majority of homeowners tend to elect a solar lease, PPA (power purchase agreement), or loan.  But recent programs, like the US Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, are focused on researching how to lower the cost of solar — and prices have been successfully dropping. The goal was $1 per watt installed by 2020, which is both significant and more than attainable — recent reports show the goal was reached three years early.

The biggest perks for the average homeowner like you, however, are the previously mentioned PPA, loan, and lease programs that allow you to install home solar for literally no money out of pocket. If your home qualifies, all you’ll have to do is select a company to work with and start powering your home with cleaner, cheaper electricity after activation.

2. Solar Power Technology Will Get Better, So I’ll Wait

Methods to harness solar power have been around for decades, and ways to use the Sun and its energy-filled rays have been around for millions of years. The concept of time was first established by the rising and setting of this brilliant, giant star in the sky, and it’s now readily available for any qualified homeowner looking to save a bit of money on their monthly electric bill while helping reduce our carbon footprint for generations.

Yes solar power is booming here in the US today, but countries all over the world are even further ahead of us with clean energy generation. Countries like Germany and Costa Rica have been set up to be powered with renewable energy for the next few decades, but when it comes to the United States, it literally pays to "act now".  Any refinements that will be made in our lifetime won't be significantly different than what is available today. You'll greatly benefit from qualifying for solar sooner than later.

The ITC (Incentive Tax Credit) we know and love is the most economical opportunity homeowners have to "go solar" for the near future, and unless we receive an extension, solar may not be as affordable and easily installed after 2020. Of course the technology will still be in abundance, but if you want to wait to install, you may want to start saving some serious cash.

What’s our advice? Don’t gamble. Solar is the best it could possibly get — don’t "wait and see" if the ITC will be extended – just reap the benefits today! We can help you find the right solar installer for you in your area.

3. Solar Companies are Sketchy and Don’t Install the Systems Well

Like any other construction-intensive business in the United States, solar companies are strictly regulated, in this case through the Department of Energy. When federal and state incentives were passed, they weren’t done so irresponsibly.

Every reliable and trustworthy solar company must be licensed by the Contractors State License Board (CSLB), and if you aren’t sure about a company you’re considering — just Google it! Stick with companies that tend to have a good BBB (Better Business Bureau) rating, and take noticeable pride in the workmanship of their installations. If you're considering working with a company to install solar and they're particularly confident, ask them if they have a list of testimonials you can review. Chances are, the good ones do, and will be more than willing to share.

Also gravitate to companies that will not only give you the best possible rate, but don’t sell you short on panels. There are many installers that will assess your roof size and then fit as many panels on it as they can to give you the best solar offset, the most savings, and design the system in such a way that you can brag about it to your neighbors. Everyone will want those panels! It's like parking a sports car on your roof.

4. Solar Power Manufacturing is Just as Bad for Our Environment As Fossil Fuels

Let’s be real: It’s incredibly challenging to be able to make any type of "production" 100% renewable — meaning zero carbon footprint whatsoever. However, the pros outweigh the cons in this case. Manufacturing solar panels bears no comparison to the damage that fossil fuels have done to our environment, nor are dangerous like non-renewable nuclear power. While a sustainable energy source, nuclear power has proven to be hazardous and the fallout is detrimental to our health and environment as a whole.

Look at a typical average-sized solar-powered home: a 7.8 KW (Kilowatt) system produces around 8,685 kWh (kilowatt hours) each year, which is the equivalent of planting 50 trees and offsets 100 tons of carbon dioxide. Think about long-term vs short-term — going solar now is not only helping produce cleaner air today while phasing out dirty and/or dangerous archaic forms of energy, but also creating a much better tomorrow for generations to come. You can rest easy knowing that you are doing your part to "be green" and phase out the energy sources we have long relied on.

5. Solar Power Can’t Phase Out Fossil Fuels – Brown Energy is Here to Stay

The world has been reliant on the current energy structure for hundreds of years with little to no improvement. Why do we still have power lines above ground with wires running through our beautiful trees, exposed and vulnerable to the elements for every major storm? Why do we burn billions of pounds of dirty coal and gas each day to power our dishwashers, refrigerators, coffee makers, toasters, electronics, and basic lighting?

Solar power, among other renewables energies like wind and hydro, allow dirtier energies to become the power of yesterday. Solar is hands-down the most affordable right now worldwide, and it makes sense. The Sun has an abundance of energy just sitting there waiting for us to harness it. The goal for North America is to reach 50% of clean energy generation by 2025 and not only is it feasible, but it's a rational goal.

Ultimately, the choice is yours — but why not save on your monthly bill AND be part of the green energy movement? 98% of the population are in favor of the movement, but only 2% are willing to pay for it. Right now, the government and state incentives are offering to help you pay for it. See if your home qualifies before the incentive runs out!