Solar is taking over headlines these days. And while we’re thrilled that more people are learning about the power of solar energy, we’re concerned with the all the misinformation out there. So we’ve decided to set the record straight about the ten most common solar myths and fake news.
Fake News 1: Solar panels are expensive and only for the super wealthy.
Fact: These days, solar systems are extremely affordable. Wisconsin and Illinois, our service areas, offer huge solar panel incentives for residents and businesses as part of their long-term renewable energy goals.
In Wisconsin, you can get up to 50% of the costs credited back, and it’s up to 70% in Illinois! In other words, you’re getting paid up front to save money down the line. Within just a few years, your system will pay for itself, and then some. So the real question is whether you can afford NOT to go solar!
Fake News 2: Solar panels are may be eco-friendly, but they sure are an eyesore.
Fact: We know, we know. When you think of solar panels, your mind immediately jumps back to the mid-’80s: Cheers, landlines, and big, clunky solar panels resembling something out of an early George Lucas film.
But while the technology used to harness energy from the sun dates back to the 1800s, today’s solar panels for homes and businesses are worlds away from those eyesores you may remember. Bulky breaker boxes and ugly metallic wire enclosures are a thing of the past. The Premium Mono Panels we use at Sun Badger Solar are sleek and stylish, and barely noticeable once installed.
Fake News 3: Solar panels need one thing–sun–so they won’t work on cloudy days.
Fact: Remember how your mom told you to put on sunblock, even when the sun wasn’t out. But you didn’t listen, because what does mom know. And then you got a sunburn, and went crying to mom for that cooling green jelly. And she refused to put it on your back because you were a rebellious punk that needed to learn a lesson. Just us?
Okay, the point of that ramble is that mom is always right. Wait. That’s true, but the real point is that sunlight still gets through on cloudy days. Not as much as on a bright, clear day, but it does get through. And a few overcast days here and there don’t matter much when you consider the full energy needs and production over the course of a year, which is how your electric company views your power needs.
Consider the fact that Germany, long the worldwide leader in solar energy production, gets significantly less sunlight on average than many parts of the US, particularly the Midwest. Here, we get about as much solar as East Texas. Bottom line: Solar is absolutely a feasible energy option in the Midwest, and other less sunny areas.
Fake News 4: Okay, so clouds are fine. But snow will definitely make solar panels useless.
Fact: Wrong again! In fact, the solar technology functions better in colder temperatures. It’s true that fewer daylight hours and temporary snow cover can cause the panels to produce a bit less energy, but sunny snowy days can be a boon, due to the effect of sunlight reflecting off sun cover. The thermal energy your panels emit will help melt snow, thus helping protect your roof from damage and getting you back to full power quickly.
Fake News 5: Speaking of roof damage, the installation and weight of solar panels will ruin my roof.
Fact: Professional installers have seen every imaginable roof pitch, angle and condition. They are experienced and skilled at installing solar panels and will do no damage to your roof.
Additionally, as mentioned in the last section, solar panels can even protect and extend the life of your roof by protecting it from the elements and allowing air flow between the roof and the panels. And today’s solar panels are lightweight, barely weighing more than a second layer of shingles.
Fake News 6: Solar panels are delicate–they require continual maintenance and need to be replaced after just a few short years.
Fact: Once installed, your solar panels are virtually maintenance free. Most homeowners and businesses find that the occasional rainfall is enough to keep panels clean and free of debris. In the rare event that they do need a spiff, a quick shower from the hose should do the trick.
An annual inspection is recommended though to ensure everything is in tip-top shape. This simple inspection can include:
• A visual look at the panels to check for cracks, chips and discolouration
• Ensure the inverter is working correctly
• Check that cables and connections are secure
• Make sure switches and circuit breakers are operating
As for needing replacement after a few years, this too is false. Sun Badger’s solar systems are designed to meet the highest performance specifications and quality standards and are built to last 30-plus years. We use panels that have a minimum 25-year performance warranty, yet we expect them to last 35 or more years. In addition, we offer a free 10-year installation warranty, Solar Edge inverters are warrantied for 12 years, and Solar Edge optimizers are warrantied for 25 years, so you can rest assured that your investment will last.
Additionally, we use IronRidge Flashing to install our panels which raises the bar in solar roof protection. This unique water seal design is both elevated and encapsulated, delivering redundant layers of protection against water intrusion.
Fake News 7: Solar panels will allow me to go off the grid.
Fact: Nearly all modern solar panel systems are tied to electric companies, and those electric companies use a grid. This is a good thing. When you produce more energy than you need, it’s credited back to your account, and you can use it when you need it (e.g., at night when the system isn’t generating power). You get a consistent level of energy to meet your needs, and don’t need to worry about keeping your freezer at ice-cream-melting temperatures, or unplugging every single lamp and TV when not in use.
You can go off the grid by using a battery to store energy, which are bulky, expensive and need to be replaced every five to ten years, and redundant generators. However, most homeowners and businesses find these systems too expensive, labor intensive, and generally, not worth the effort.
Fake News 8: Solar energy will give me power even when the power goes out.
Fact: Unless you’re using a battery system, when the electric company’s power grid goes out, your power does too. That’s because it’s extremely dangerous to run electricity to wires when electric workers are trying to fix it. Your inverter knows when the grid has been turned off, and will stop power being generated from your solar panels. It’s for everyone’s safety, so be patient, light a candle, and relax.
Fake News 9: I won’t live in my home long enough to make my investment back.
Fact: Depending on your system and location, solar panel arrays can start seeing a return within three to five years due to federal and select state credits. And all commercial solar installation projects in Wisconsin and Illinois quality for 100% depreciation in the first year, oftentimes speeding up the time to return for many businesses.
Additionally, solar panels can increase the resale value of your home by as much as $15,000 and homes with solar systems typically sell for 3.74% more than non-solar homes, according to a study by the Berkeley Lab’s Electricity Markets & Policy Group. That means, even if you don’t hunker down in your home for long, you can still see a significant return on investment when you sell.
Fake News 10: The negative environmental impact of developing and disposing of solar panels outweighs the clean energy they create.
Fact: Solar naysayers claim that it takes more energy to manufacture, transport and install solar panels than they would be able to generate in their lifetime. However, with panel lifespans often surpassing 35 years and energy payback coming as soon as one to four years, the numbers tell a very different and real story. But don’t take our word for it, hear it from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Those same naysayers also claim that getting rid of solar panels after their 35+ years of usage is bad for the environment. But this is also false. Solar panels can absolutely be recycled today, and by the time your panels are ready to retire, the technology and infrastructure to recycle will no doubt be even more sophisticated. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the value of recovered material from recycled solar panels could exceed $15 billion by 2050, a desirable sum that you can be sure the powers that be will want to claim.
We hope that helps clear up some of the myths and false information about solar energy. There is plenty of other fake news to dispel, but this a good start for anyone thinking about installing solar panels for their home or business, or simply anyone interested in renewable energy. For more solar myth busting or a free solar energy consultation for your home or business, contact us today!
Frequently Asked Questions
Does solar panel installation damage your roof?
Absolutely not. Solar installers are very experienced with various roof pitches and materials – they know how to install solar panels without damaging your roof. Solar panels can even extend the life of your roof by creating a second barrier of protection from the elements.
Will solar panels give me energy even when the power goes out?
Unless you have an independent solar battery, when the power grid goes out, so does your power. This is because it’s very dangerous to have running electricity when workers are fixing the grid. If you want power when the grid is down, you need to invest in a battery.
Do solar panels work when it’s cloudy?
Yes they do! In the same way that you can get a sunburn on a cloudy day, your solar panels are collecting energy through the cloudy filter. It may be at a decreased rate, but over the course of a year, cloudy days won’t negatively impact your solar energy gains significantly.