common solar myths

10 Common Solar Myths and Misconceptions Debunked

The myths and misconceptions about solar energy have increased to an unexpected level due to the average annual growth of 24% in the past decade and the fact that it can power the whole house. Many individuals across the United States started to prefer solar energy due to government incentives, technological advancements, growing energy demands, and increased environmental concerns by creating awareness in schools and colleges.

Many people are still unsure about solar energy because of several reasons. They worry about the cost and whether it’s affordable, how reliable and efficient it is, its impact on the environment and long-term sustainability, and the policies and economic issues related to it. Yet, another common query arises: do solar panels work at night? It would be interesting to delve deeper into the principles of solar technology and its limitations during the night.

discussion about solar panel

By the time you complete reading this article, you will come to know various myths that are untrue and are speculating around such as the government providing free solar panels that will eliminate your utility bills and work during power outages. Also, some people wrongly assume that going off the grid with solar panels is only for the rich and homeowners.

Additionally, a few others believe that solar panels don’t work in winter and damage your roof by not working on cloudy or winter days. Before knowing about solar myths and misconceptions, you should also know how does solar panels work. Now, let’s look at common solar myths and misconceptions and debunk them.

Common Solar Myth 1. Solar Panels Don’t Work on Cloudy Days

People misunderstand that solar panels don’t work on cloudy days. In reality, solar panels generate electricity on cloudy days, but the efficiency will be reduced when compared to sunny days.

Solar panels are designed in such a way as to trap direct and diffused sunlight. However, the exact degree of cloud cover and the technology used exactly determines the electricity a solar panel can generate. Furthermore, the newer panels can absorb diffused sunlight. The production can be calculated accurately using sophisticated and bankable PV models for additional performance.

2. Solar Panels Are Only for the Rich

It is a widely held misconception that solar panels are only for the rich which can be proved wrong. You need to have a moderate amount of funds to manage your investment and plan your budget, a strong roof on your building to hold solar panels, and ownership of your house.

For middle and upper-middle-class users, the government provides the best financial support such as loans, allowances, tax credits, financing options, and several others by encouraging people to invest more in solar energy technologies.

Any investor can purchase solar who is planning to lower their electricity bills for residential and commercial purposes. In the present world, the sellers are promoting various offers by making the cost more affordable and creating awareness about the clean and green environment to the potential buyers.

3. Solar Panels Work Even During a Power Outage

There is a misconception that solar panels will work by providing power to a building during an outage. Since the belief arose from the assumption that solar panels generate electricity from sunlight, many people wrongly assume that the power is provided when the grid is down.

But, the reality is that a majority of solar panels are tied to the grid. In other words, it means that during a power outage, the panels are specifically designed to shut down automatically for safety reasons. It is to avoid harm to the workers who might be working to resolve the issue. People working on the lines are prone to danger zones if the grid systems continue to supply power. To avoid such incidents, the grid-tied systems are programmed to stop functioning when the power goes down.

Another reason is to protect the grid and workers by preventing the back-feed of electricity. Commonly, solar panel systems use inverters to coincide with the grid. When the power supply is halted, the inverters stop working and avoid the return supply of electricity.

Alternatively, excess energies can be stored in batteries of certain systems by allowing the power when the grid is down. Though a power backup is provided by these systems during outages, house owners need to consider adding battery storage by comprehending well to analyze the differences to gain perfect backup power.

4. Solar Panels Might Require a Lot of Maintenance

There is another myth that solar panels might require a lot of maintenance, which is quite the opposite of the fact that they require little maintenance they generate electricity for many upcoming years of your lives with proper installation and seasonal cleaning at least once or twice a month. Using water, you can remove the accumulated dirt, dust, or snow on the surface of solar panels.

Also, you can get a warranty period of 25 to 30 years from the best manufacturers. If your solar panels are connected to the utility grid, they are easier to maintain. Additionally, solar panels are designed to sustain different forms of precipitation like hail, snow, fog, rain, and many more.

5. Solar Panels Don’t Work in Winter

The myth that solar panels don’t work in winter is completely untrue. Though temperatures have little impact on the solar panel’s capacity to generate electricity, the efficiency of photovoltaic cells will certainly be increased in colder temperatures. In other words, the PV cells generate more electricity when compared to the warmer days.

Despite, solar panels not being able to trap enough energy from the sunlight during winter due to fewer daylight hours, modern innovations like tracking devices and solar cells with higher efficiency support your solar system to produce huge energy in contrast to the other seasons. Moreover, you should properly clean the solar panels and ensure good maintenance throughout the season, which can help to overcome the accumulation of snow or dust and maintain its efficiency.

Also, the solar power you need for your house in winter depends upon several factors like the size and location of your home, the type of technology used, efficiency, and the availability of direct sunlight.

However, you need to know that the solar panels stop functioning at the lowest temperature of 32°F ( 0°C) and the highest range of 149°F ( 65°C).

6. Solar Panels Will Damage Your Roof

One of the biggest myths about installing solar panels is that it will cause damage to your roof and cause leaks. However, many homeowners need to consider the quality of the roof and the age of the building before planning for installation.

Typically, solar panels installed with proper safety will never yield a leak on the roof. Rather, the roof is protected from harmful elements and further damage.

Usually, when a plan is built for designing solar arrays or a design is proposed, a team with its structural engineers and roofing consultants ensures that the roof integrity is structurally strong. In case of any repairs or modifications, the team addresses its issues to ensure the long life of the roof and solar systems.

Furthermore, to ensure ease of removal in case of any emergency requirements, the detachable skids allow simpler installation of solar panels with weighted ballasts.

7. Going Solar means going off-grid

Going off the grid by installing solar panels means your home isn’t connected to the electrical grid. Many homes that have solar energy systems with storage can power your appliances, but not every system can do it.

Most solar homes are still following the grid-tied systems, which is common in residential areas and you will benefit from lower electricity bills. You can transfer additional energy back into the grid and it is mandatory to have a backup energy source when blackouts occur. Additionally, you should plan for battery storage to save energy for future use can be expensive.

8. Going Solar Will Eliminate Your Utility Bills

As a house owner, you might think, “Will I Have An Electricity Bill After Going Solar?“. Though solar energy can reduce electricity bills, it becomes possible to fulfill your requirements like system size, energy usage, integrating battery storage, locality regulations, and many more.

In many scenarios, buildings utilize more electricity when compared to solar panels by drawing more power from the grid during the night.

If Net Metering is available from the local utility, you can generate excess electricity during the day and gain credits by feeding it back into the grid. However, the utility policy varies based on the capacity owners offset their utility bills.

Additionally, energy conservation methods like LED lighting as well as HVAC and other control upgrades can be used to minimize a building’s overall solar energy. As a result, a building’s efficiency can be improved by sizing a new solar array for the lower energy baseline.

The solar offset is another method to measure the yearly difference between the electricity generated by the solar panels and the electricity used by your homes. The factors required for complete offset include energy and panel efficiency, sunlight availability, roof shading and orientation, system size, and battery storage.

9. Only Homeowners Can Go Solar

It is a falsified statement that only homeowners can go for solar. If you live in a rented house or apartment, community solar programs allow multiple users to benefit from a single shared solar array that can be installed on your building roof or off-site. All the users divide the purchasing and installation costs of the solar systems among themselves. As a result, every individual can afford to purchase the shared system at the best level that fits their budget.

10. The Government Gives Free Solar Panels

There isn’t any government in the world that gives free solar panels. Solar panels can never be free of cost, as they require a down payment while purchasing them and financing through solar leases or Power Purchase Agreements(PPA). You should be aware that if any company promises to provide free installation of the panels, they are trying to collect your personal information.

Though few governments may offer plans for low or no-cost installation of solar panels or other incentives for eligible residents, ensure that you prefer reputable solar companies that are certified by verified organizations such as the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners.

Under the “No cost solar” scheme, you will get solar panels installed on your roof for free of cost but you won’t be able to own it. One of the major drawbacks of this system is that you could lose electricity savings due to less efficient panels because of the low-quality materials used by a few companies in the preparation process. Moreover, you become ineligible to gain solar rebates, federal tax credits, or local solar incentives by signing a lease agreement with the company.

Do Solar Panels Work at Night?

solar panels in night

No, Solar panels do not work at night as they cannot generate electricity during the sunlight’s absence. This is because the photovoltaic cells in the solar panel can only produce electricity during sunlight all day.

But, it doesn’t mean that you cannot use solar panels during the night, as there are alternatives to the electric grid connection with net metering and solar battery storage. As a result, your solar energy system gains electricity during the rest period.

Net Metering: When your solar panels produce excess electricity during the day, they can be sent back to the grid by using the net metering system, which acts as a savings account to earn credits. The solar energy system connected to the electricity grid allows you to draw power from the grid during the night by using those credits. It allows the electricity to flow both in and out of your home using the bidirectional connection. In a few net metering cases, you have to pay an additional amount to withdraw the credits

Solar Battery Storage: A second alternative to power your house at night is solar battery storage, which can store electricity for future use. Rather than transferring the excess electricity to the grid, you can utilize it for yourself in the future use. Consequently, you can rely less on the grid systems and lower your electricity bills. Sometimes, the utility grid might malfunction due to technical errors or natural disasters like wildfires. Protecting your home with battery storage is the best option.

Interestingly, you can program your battery to consume electricity from the grid once its life period is depleted. In other words, the net metering and solar battery can be configured to work together efficiently, but the integration process requires more technical expertise and maintenance. Having the proper knowledge of home battery storage systems will help you to choose the right one for you.

Can Solar Panels Power the Whole House?

Yes, you can power your whole house using solar panels depending on the type, wattage, number of panels used, and their efficiency. On average, you might require at least 10 solar panels to provide power for all appliances which depends upon the size and location of your home, peak sunlight hours, and your energy consumption.

It is estimated that the average residence in the USA uses 10,400 kWh of electricity annually. Possibly, you will need at least 28 to 34 solar panels with a 250-wattage capacity to generate power for your entire house.

Also, by consulting a professional solar installation expert, you can figure out other crucial factors like roof condition and angle, nearby shading objects, daily sun exposure, the size of your home, and many more…

Ray is an avid reader and writer with over 25 years of experience serving various domestic and multinational private and public energy companies in the USA.

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