04 May Shining Light On the Top Five Myths About Solar Energy
In Western New York and across the entire U.S., home solar installations are on the rise! In 2012, homeowners installed enough residential solar panels to power the equivalent of almost 24,000 homes. Despite its growing popularity, solar technology remains unfamiliar to many Americans. As renewable energy becomes a mainstay topic for the nation’s partisan political debates, consumers may struggle to separate the facts about solar energy from common misconceptions. Here are the realities behind the top five myths about solar energy.
Myth 1: Solar is a new, unproven technology.
Solar technology roots reach as far back as 1885, when Charles Fritts built the first solar cell using selenium. In 1954, researchers at Bell Labs harnessed the photoelectric effect on silicon, setting the course for modern solar technology. Since then, solar has powered space exploration, oil derricks, cellular networks and grid-tied businesses and homes.
Myth 2: Solar only works in warm climates.
While sunny states like California lead the U.S. in solar deployment, northern residents still have much to gain from installing residential solar panels. Just as people don’t require full sunshine to see, solar panels don’t require full sunshine to produce electricity. Germany, the country with the most installed solar capacity worldwide, counts on solar irradiation comparable to Seattle’s.
“Solar panels work the best in colder climates,” said Alicia Uebelhoer, co-owner of Buffalo Solar Solutions. “On a sunny and extremely cold day with no snow coverage on the panels, they are actually working at their best!”
Myth 3: All solar panels are created equal.
Consumers should be aware that differences in quality and workmanship can curb the amount of energy produced. Be wary of solar panels manufactured in poorly regulated factories with questionable quality control, labor and environmental practices. Instead, look for home solar panels from a reputable manufacturer, which can guarantee the highest power production and stand behind a lengthy warranty.
“Before offering any products to our customers, we conduct extensive research on the products to ensure that our customers are getting the best product possible and a great price,” Uebelhoer added.
Myth 4: Solar panels are unattractive.
To meet customer demand for attractive installations, a few companies now offer true-black solar panels, designed to blend well with residential rooftops. The panels are made from the most powerful solar cells available, meaning a homeowner can produce more electricity with fewer panels. The experts at Buffalo Solar Solutions prefer to install all black solar panels unless a customer insists on a different style.
Myth 5: Solar is too expensive.
Thanks to technological advances and attractive rebates, residential solar systems are more affordable than ever. In many parts of the U.S., homeowners can use financing programs to reduce upfront costs and spread payment over a period of up to 20 years.
“With today’s incentives, solar tax credits and $0 down financing, we tell customers that if they can afford to pay their monthly electric bill, they can afford solar,” said Tyler Uebelhoer, co-owner of Buffalo Solar Solutions. “And eventually, when the solar equipment has been paid off, you’re only responsible for the basic hook up fee, which is currently $15 to $17 a month.”
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