Analysing the advantages and disadvantages of solar power

The constraints on the national power grid and rising cost of electricity have seen many people turning to solar power either as a full-power or back-up power system. Here’s a look the solar pros and cons. 

Advantages of solar power

1. Solar is a sustainable energy source

With global warming threatening the survival of the planet, sustainable energy options are increasingly the only realistic option, which has seen the rise in the number of solar panels installed in residential, commercial and industrial spaces. In South Africa, solar energy is an easily accessible energy source and will continue to be as long as we have sunlight!

2. Solar is cost-effective long-term

Whether you’re installing solar panels as a primary power source or as solar back-up power, you are going to see cost savings – quite substantial eventually. Obviously, the amount of money saved will depend on the size of your solar system, as well as your electricity use, but the savings will be made. In many countries, you can even sell your excess energy to be used on the grid. The system is scalable and can upgraded and scaled up at any point in the future.

3. Solar is low-maintenance

Fortunately, solar power systems require minimal maintenance outside of cleaning a few times a year. Because the solar system has no moving parts, there is minimal wear and tear, plus most solar power systems come with significant warranties. 

4. Solar provides energy independence

As mentioned, the national energy grid is severely constrained which has resulted in load shedding. Not only is this inconvenient, but it also has massive financial impacts as well. By installing solar panels, individuals benefit from independence in energy use as well as energy security at all times.

Disadvantages of solar power

1. Solar has big start-up costs

One of the biggest hurdles to installing solar systems is the initial cost involved. The solar power system consists of solar panels, an inverter, batteries, wiring, as well as costs related to the installation. However, the benefit is that there are now many competing organisations that supply and install solar systems, bringing the prices down. In addition to this, solar systems are scalable, so while you might want to just start with a solar back-up, you can add panels and batteries, expanding the system until you are completely off the grid. 

2. Solar is weather dependent

Obviously, any solar system depends on the sun’s energy for power. So, when there’s no sun, there is limited energy. This is not to say that there’s no energy at all – even during cloudy and rainy days energy can be harvested – however, it’s not as effective as sunny days. This is not a massive disadvantage in the long-run, as solar batteries are able to store solar power for cloudy days, night-time and the colder winter months. It’s just a matter of building up the system. 

3. Solar panels need space

A major element of any solar system is the installation of solar panels, generally placed on a roof surface where they have access to direct sunlight. These solar panels are large, however, and some roofs don’t have sufficient space for the number of solar panels required to run a household. If there is insufficient space for solar panels on the roof, they can be placed elsewhere, such as the yard, provided the area has direct sunlight. Alternatively, fewer panels can be installed to satisfy the need for solar back-up power, rather than a total solar system.

There is no doubt that the advantages of the solar power system far outweigh any short-term disadvantages. Provided funds are available, there is no reason not to partner with a reputable supplier of solar systems and start saving on costs today. 

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