Pros and cons of solar panels

Pros and cons of solar panels

Installing solar panels could provide a sustainable method of reducing energy costs and reduce the home’s impact on the environment.

As electricity tariffs continue to increase and place financial pressure on households, many are looking at alternate power sources, such as solar panels, in an attempt to reduce electricity consumption.

Adrian Goslett, regional director and chief executive of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says the more electricity a household uses, the more it is charged for each unit of electricity.

“It makes sense for households to introduce energy-efficient elements to curb their energy usage and overall cost of running the home. While the concept of ‘green energy’ is not new, the growing cost of electricity has led to consumers becoming more conscious of the energy they use. A study conducted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) revealed that apart from a safe neighbourhood, the factor that influenced home-buying decisions the most was a home’s energy efficiency,” says Goslett.

He says elements such as solar panels have become increasingly more popular with the energy-efficient movement gaining momentum. However, he says there are some pros and cons you should consider before adding solar panels to your home:

It goes without saying that using power generated from the sun will reduce the amount of electricity used from the main power grid, which will reduce the household’s utility bill. In most cases, solar panel systems save between 50% and 75% of an electricity bill. The money saved can go towards paying off the solar panels or other household expenses.

However, even though solar panels have become more affordable over the years, the initial upfront cost of installation can be expensive, and it could take some time for the system to pay itself off – typically around seven years.

Energy-efficient elements add value to a home, and a large percentage of the initial outlay of such elements is recouped when the property is sold. According to the NAHB, about 61% of home buyers would be prepared to pay an additional R50 000 to R100 000 on a home with features that would reduce utility costs, says Goslett.

However, there are some roofing materials, particularly in older homes, that make it difficult to install solar panels such as slate tiles. There is also the matter of available space on the roof, many homes have limited clear space to fit the solar panels.

Although going green will save money on utility costs and add value to the home, the financial aspect is not the only reason for installing energy saving devices. Sustainability and reducing the household’s effect on the environment and its surroundings are becoming equally important. Generating energy from fossil fuels emits harmful carbon dioxide and methane which contribute to global warming – using solar panels for power does not. Solar power also doesn’t require water to process, unlike many other energy sources.

As with all household elements, solar panels require upkeep and maintenance, which come at an additional cost. The solar panels will need to be cleaned and repaired when necessary, and must be insured.

“For the right home, installing solar panels could provide a sustainable method of reducing energy costs and impact on the environment,” Goslett says.