7 Solar Myths — Busted

The U.S. solar industry expects to install a record-breaking number of solar panels in 2016, a 94 percent increase from last year. In fact, the U.S. is now producing more solar panel systems than natural gas power plants. But although the demand for solar panels is growing and the installation price is dropping, urban legends still remain.

Here are some of the greatest myths about solar panels, debunked.

1.    Myth: Solar panels will damage my roof.

Fact: The solar PV cells attached to rooftops use modern materials perfected in labs. Holes need to be drilled into a roof to attach solar panels, but your roof can still be protected. Reputable solar panel installation companies follow industry best practices, like using quality flashed mounts to waterproof roof penetrations.

2.    Myth: Solar panels are loud.

Fact: You don’t have to worry about the loud sound of a large piece of equipment attached to your house disturbing your peace and quiet. Because there are no moving parts, solar panels are virtually silent. The inverter can sometimes make a humming noise, but most modern inverters are too quiet to hear even up close—and all humming stops at night when there’s no solar energy to convert.

3.    Myth: Solar panels don’t work well in cold climates.

Fact: If there are any daylight hours in your area, solar panels can still be effective. This is why Germany—which receives about the same amount of sunshine as Alaska—is currently a solar superpower. In fact, even though Utah is known for a long winter season, the state has enough solar power potential to provide all the electricity the U.S. needs. Solar panels are built to withstand varying temperatures, and they can produce electricity from indirect light.

4.    Myth: All solar panels are eyesores.

Fact: Homeowners now have more home solar power system options than just large, rectangular panels. Solar power companies offer solar shingles, which are thin, film-like black panels stapled to roofing cloth just like regular shingles.

5.    Myth: Solar panels aren’t allowed where I live.

Fact: You may want to double check if you think your town or homeowners’ association doesn’t allow solar panels. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory says that some state laws guarantee homeowners’ rights to install panels on their homes. You will likely need to submit plans to your local jurisdiction and obtain permits, but a home solar panel system company should know your local building codes and can take care of those details.

6.    Myth: Solar panels are too expensive.

Fact: Solar panels are generally much cheaper to install now than they ever have been. And the benefits outweigh the costs: average savings on your electric bill can be $100–$200 a month. A U.S. Department of Energy study showed that buyers will pay up to $15,000 more for a home equipped with solar panels. Adding even more saving potential, government tax credits can offset the cost of a solar panel system up to 30 percent, and many utility companies have net metering plans that buy back a solar customer’s excess electricity.

7.    Myth: Solar panels require too much maintenance.

Fact: Home solar panel systems can last a long time—sometimes up to 40 years—and are typically protected with a warranty. Some warranties offer annual inspections for the life of the system, but cleaning a solar panel takes minimal maintenance even if you don’t have an inspector. Dust and debris can build up on a solar panel and decrease efficiency up to 25 percent, but all you have to do is give your home solar power system a gentle scrub with water and a sponge once or twice a year.

If these busted myths made you more interested in purchasing a home solar power system, calculate how much installation might cost you at Solar Power Authority.

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Brooke is the executive community manager with SolarPowerAuthority , a leading renewable energy and solar industry website.  Brooke is a part-time blogger, and a full-time environmentalist. Her crusade for all things eco started ten years ago when she ditched her meat-and-potatoes upbringing for something more vegetarian-shaped. Her passions include cooking, green tech, eco politics, and smart green design. Brooke studied at the University of Utah and graduated with her double degree in business and sustainability.

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