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Advantages & disadvantages of solar energy

Solar energy generates renewable, reliable and inexpensive electricity. Like all power sources, solar energy has its advantages and disadvantages. Before you commit to solar panel installation, let’s explore all the pros and cons of solar energy.

What are the advantages of solar energy?

Solar energy has many perks, from saving money to helping the environment. Here’s a quick breakdown of the main advantages.

Solar energy can slash your energy bills. Solar energy is more affordable and sustainable compared to other sources. As we use up finite resources like fossil fuels, their prices will rise, making solar a great alternative for your wallet and the planet. By generating your own electricity with solar panels, you’ll bypass the energy companies and avoid paying the extra costs that make up their profits. A 4kWh solar panel system can save you up to 80% a year, which means your system can pay for itself in just over 12 years.

Solar panels require minimum maintenance

Solar panels often come with warranties that cover you for over 25 years, but most panels will last even longer than that. At Wickes Solar powered by Solar Fast, we guarantee our panels for 30 years and will carry out any repairs needed within that time. On average, you can expect your panels to last for around 40 years before they need replacing.

Solar energy is renewable

Most of our current energy comes from finite resources, which won’t last forever. The beauty of solar is that we have another 5 billion years of sun to enjoy, and no number of solar panels will use it up. Setting up solar farms on just 1.2% of the Sahara Desert could meet the whole world’s energy needs. But while we work out the logistics of that, why not set up your own solar power station on your roof? With solar’s sustainability benefits, it’s not just your wallet that will benefit but the planet will too.

Solar power is adaptable

Solar panels aren’t just for generating electricity. Photovoltaic panels do that, but let’s not forget about solar thermal panels which transfer the sun’s heat to water tanks, giving you free and sustainable hot water. You can also get smaller gadgets like solar-powered outdoor lights and water fountains. You can even use smaller panels for outbuildings and sheds, proving you don’t need a large solar system to harness the natural power of the sun.

Solar panels work in cloudy weather

Don’t believe the myth that the UK’s unpredictable weather affects solar panels’ efficiency. Yes, they work best in bright, sunny weather, but they don’t stop working when it’s cloudy. In fact, they only lose 10% to 20% of their 95%+ efficiency on a cloudy day. UK temperatures won’t stop your solar panels either. Their optimum working temperature is between 15°C and 35°C, making our climate perfect.

Solar energy systems are quick to install

At Wickes Solar powered by Solar Fast, our MCS-certified installation can take just 7 days from the initial quote to a fully functional solar energy system. Our team will be at your home for no longer than 3 days, so you’ll get minimal hassle for top-of-the-line results.

Solar energy could increase the value of your home

Studies from the government and insurance giant Admiral have found that a solar energy system can increase the value of your home by up to 25%. Including a solar energy system can also make your home much more marketable as the cost-of-living and rising energy bills change the public’s perception of renewable energy.

Renewable technology is advancing rapidly

Renewable technology is constantly evolving to create more efficient methods of energy production. For example, polycrystalline panels used to be the best on the market, but they were replaced by the 72-cell monocrystalline panel. The industry now recommends the new 104 Half Cell monocrystalline panels which are even more efficient. Experts are further pushing the limits of solar energy by trying out new minerals like perovskite instead of silicon, that can increase solar cell efficiency by 28%.

And as renewable energy technology advances, the price of installing your own solar panel system continues to decline.

What are the disadvantages of solar energy?

While solar energy has many advantages, there are also some drawbacks. Here’s a quick look at the main points:

The initial cost of solar energy can be high

The biggest hurdle for many homeowners is the initial cost of installing a solar panel system. An average 4kWh solar energy system will cost, on average, £12,000 in the UK. The long-term benefit of this investment, however, is the £850 a year saving in energy bills which means the panels will pay for themselves in 10 years. With Wickes Solar powered by Solar Fast, you can also split the initial cost using finance, making it a more financially practical option. Find out more about the cost of installing a solar panel system here.

Solar panels can take up a lot of space

To power your whole home, you’ll need to find the space for several solar panels as well as the inverter and any battery storage you choose to add to the system. Since most panels are installed on roofs, it’s easy to find space here. If you can’t or don’t want to install them on your roof, panels can go in the garden. However, this comes with an increased risk of damage and shading. With the advances in solar technology, the increased efficiency of newer systems will lead to panels that produce more electricity per square metre, taking up less room on your roof or garden.

For your system, you might need to sacrifice some space in your loft, garage or some other sheltered area.

Solar panel manufacturing is associated with pollution

While solar energy may be an environmental game-changer, it’s not perfect. To make the panels, quartz needs to be mined to create silicon cells, then treated with chemicals and brought to a very high temperature to extract these silicon cells. Further mining is required to source the metal frame and copper wire. All these materials are recyclable, but there’s only a few panel recycling plants. But as we invest in solar energy, more companies will recycle dead panels.

Despite these environmental disadvantages, compared to almost all other energy generation methods, solar panels are much kinder to the planet. Panels become carbon neutral after only 3 years and last for 3 decades before needing to be replaced.

Do I get solar panels?

While there’s some initial costs and space requirements, the long-term savings and positive environmental impact undoubtedly make solar panels a great investment. With advancements in technology and options for financing, now’s a great time to consider adding solar panels to your home.