Myths About Solar Energy

There are many common misconceptions about solar energy, it’s uses, and the technology it uses. We’ve put together a list of common myths about solar energy, and the facts behind them.

Myth 1: Solar will get more efficient, so I should wait.

Fact: Manufacturing solar panels has become automated and more efficient, which has created consistent improvements over time. However, given the government rebates currently available on installation costs together with the current capability to sell back power you produce to your local utility through the Net Energy Program, solar makes sense right now. Once installed, your panels will continue to produce power for 25 years or more.

Myth 2: Solar doesn’t work in cool, cloudy, or foggy climates.

Fact: Solar panels work just fine in ambient light and will produce significant energy in the fog or on overcast days. In fact, solar panels are actually more efficient at cooler temperatures than hot ones. Although this might seem counter-intuitive, consider that solar panels on a rooftop in cool, snowy Toronto produce only one percent less electricity than one in California, where it’s sunny and hot. Consider too that Germany leads the world in residential solar right now, and doesn’t have a sunny climate.

Myth 3: I will store the excess energy I generate in batteries.

Fact: Nearly all-modern solar panel systems are grid tied, which means they’re connected to the conventional electricity grid. In Canada most provincial governments pay for the electricity produced from renewable energy that is fed back into the electricity grid or store that excess energy in the form of credits for future consumption. In Saskatchewan this program is called Net Metering.  Batteries are an option for those who really want them.

Myth 4: Solar panels require maintenance.

Fact: Solar panels have no moving parts and do not require regular maintenance. Typically the recommendation is to hose off the panels once a year or so, but many panel owners actually never clean the panels and instead rely on the rain (or snow) to do the job for them. Typically this will cause only a very slight loss in efficiency over the lifetime of the panels. Of course, if any large debris falls onto the panels, it’s recommended you remove it. These days, solar systems come with monitoring software that allows you to spot any drops in power generation right away. Sunroof Solar Systems are linked into your monitoring system too, so sometimes they’ll even be aware of drops in a panel’s power output before you are. Pretty slick!

Myth 5: Solar panels will cause my roof to leak, deteriorate, or collapse.

Fact: Solar panels actually protect and preserve the portion of the roof they cover. If there’s ever a problem with the roof that needs to be repaired, panels can easily be removed. Solar panels are not attached directly to the roof itself, but rather to a mounted railing system. We add sealants to fill in any gaps and to prevent any leaks from occurring. These sealants have a 25-year warranty and are used to seal commercial flat roofs. Long story short- it is virtually impossible for your roof to leak. In addition, solar panels on your roof serve as an extra layer of insulation and will help decrease heat loss in the winter and keep your home cool in the summer- which means you’ll save money on your electricity bill. It’s a win – win.

Note: if your roof already leaks or needs to be replaced, it makes sense to make roof repairs first before installing solar panels.

Myth 6: Solar is still so expensive that it will never be able to pay for itself (just like hybrid cars).

Fact: Perhaps one of the most unfortunate solar myths is that it’s only for rich people and/or environmentalists, when in reality many homeowners choose to go solar simply because it lowers or eliminates their power bill. Modern financing and payment options have all but eliminated the barrier to entry for solar upfront costs; so many households are now able to go solar for little to no money down. Solar is one of the very few household purchases that will actually pay for itself.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to commit to buying enough solar panels to provide all your electrical power needs – if you already have a source of electrical power from your local utility. You can buy a smaller solar system that is sized to meet your current budget now, and then add on to it later.

Myth 7: When the power goes out, my home is still powered.

Fact: When the power goes out, grid-tied systems go out too. That’s because it’s not safe to be pushing electricity back out onto the wires while workers may be trying to fix the problem, so your inverter (a box installed near your meter that turns DC electricity created by the panels into usable AC current) recognizes that the grid is out and shuts your system off.

Myth 8: Solar will look ugly on my roof.

Fact: Haven’t you heard? Solar is the new black. In the last ten years there’s been a growing awareness of how smart renewable energy is from both environmental and economic perspective, so solar panels are finally coming into their own and being regarded as an enhancement. It’s about time! Homeowners’ associations that used to be steadfastly against solar have changed their policies and are now going solar in groups. For homeowners who don’t like the look of traditional solar panels, there are now many options and styles, including thin-film and non-reflective solar panel roofing shingles. These styles are discreet and lower-profile than panels. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder (and the buck holder)!

Myth 9: Solar panels require a tracking system to follow the angle of the sun.

Fact: Though tracking mechanisms can provide efficiency gains for your solar panel system, they typically do not increase efficiency enough to justify the additional expense and maintenance of moving parts in residential situations. More importantly, most homeowners don’t have the additional space required for these systems.

Great for the Bottom Line,

Great for the Planet.

Try our solar estimator to see how much you could save with solar. TruGreen Energy can also provide you with a detailed solar site assessment and price quote. Let us help you invest in your energy future.