What Are The Problems With Solar Power

Hamburg-Allerm?he, eco-houses with photovoltai...
Hamburg-Allerm?he, eco-houses with photovoltaic system (Photo credit: Sustainable sanitation)

If you are planning to buy a photovoltaic solar power system, you are supposed to start with increasing energy efficiency of your home or office.

Achieving energy efficiency means reducing electrical consumption and your monthly electricity bills respectively.

Why is energy efficiency so important?

Simply because saving energy is less expensive than producing energy. By improving energy efficiency the cost of the photovoltaic system you are going to install will be reduced.

Electrical heating devices (electrical boilers, cookers) are not advisable to be powered by solar electric systems. For every heating appliance, you should find a proper both energy-efficient and cost-effective alternative.

As a matter of fact, heat is always an expensive source. Actually you all those devices can be powered by solar generated electricity. It is however too far from cost effective, since all heating devices are ‘power-hungry’.

If you’re planning to buy a solar electric system, please mind the following:

  • Electricity generated by a PV system is still more expensive than electricity supplied from utility grid unless you live in a remote region where connecting to a utility grid would cost you a fortune. PV systems do make solar electricity more affordable (than, for example, it was 20-30 years ago) but prices still remain relatively high. Nevertheless, for the last few years prices of solar photovoltaic panels have dropped 80% on average and they still continue to decrease.
  • Using PV systems for heating is not recommended. For heating, you should use a solar thermal system. Another option for heating is propane or natural gas.
  • High costs of a PV system are concentrated in a substantial initial investment. Often the biggest problem is to find initial financing. Once a PV system is installed with its payback spread over a long enough period of time, it is nice to feel independent from the utility grid or to see your monthly electricity bills go down. Buying a PV system is actually like paying in advance your electricity bills for years ahead, and the point is just to avoid the essential burden of high initial costs. That is why it is important to find a suitable source of financing.
  • PV systems only produce power when the sun is shining. Therefore something should be done with the electricity produced – it should be either consumed right away, or exported to the grid (in grid-tied systems), or stored in a battery for later use (in stand-alone systems).
  • For people who are connected to the grid usually the decision to purchase a PV system is based on economics – reducing their monthly bill by selling power to the utility. For people living in remote areas, who are far from any utility company, the decision to purchase a PV system is not determined by economic reasons but is rather a matter of securing a normal life instead.

If your home or office is connected to a local utility grid, full replacement of the utility with a PV system might not be cost-effective.

Offsetting a part of your electrical consumption to a solar system, however, could be an excellent way to save money on electricity.

The utility company’s costs for generating electricity are always lower than yours because any utility spreads the cost for generating electricity among all its customers.

For this reason the price you, being connected to the grid, pay for electricity is lower than the price you pay for generating solar electricity yourself – and you certainly do pay for generating electricity because, although the solar energy is free, solar equipment is not free.

Furthermore, home PV systems are usually not practical for powering large heating systems – heaters, huge electric stoves, air conditioners or electric clothes dryers.

So, you have to select the most energy-efficient loads to be powered by solar electricity, and search for reasonable alternatives for energy non-efficient devices.

Moreover, you have to start with improving the energy efficiency of your home.

There are national or regional standards, like the National Electric Code (NEC) in the U.S., adopted to ensure safety in all systems that generate, store, transport, and consume electricity.

The dealer of your PV system should follow such requirements related to equipment and wiring, so that the PV system be approved by local electric code officials.

Only by doing so you may expect the price of your property to increase after installing a solar electric system.

In many countries it is required by law that all electrical equipment be installed by a licensed electrician.

On the other hand however, many local code officials do not have enough knowledge of PV systems. This means that even if you follow the rules of the adopted standards, you may have problems to prove to a code official that you have installed a code-approved solar system.

Therefore it is recommended to contact local code officials and provide them with necessary explanations before you purchase and install a photovoltaic system.

A good plan would be to invite them to inspect the installation process before the whole system is completed. This might help your system obtain the needed approval.

 Find out here how to offset a part of your daily consumption to a photovoltaic system and reduce your monthly electricity bills. Click Here Now

You can learn more about various solar panel systems in our free definitive guide to all solar power systems.
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Lacho Pop, MSE, holds a Master's Degree in Electronics and Automatics. He has more than 15 years of experience in the design and implementation of various sophisticated electronic, solar power, and telecommunication systems.  He authored and co-authored several practical solar books in the field of solar power and solar photovoltaics. All the books were well-received by the public. You can discover more about his bestselling solar books on Amazon on his profile page here: Lacho Pop, MSE Profile