Solar power has come a long way in the last thirty years. Those of us that researched in the past found that it was incredibly costly (at that time) and the solar collecting units were large and bulky. Technology may have advanced significantly, but there are some up sides (and down sides) that need to be considered when you are thinking about making the transition to solar power.

Solar Power: Is it right for you or just another expense?
The first thing you have to realize is that the U.S. Government collects a lot of money in taxing power, in general. The costs of power are going to continue to increase and therefore many are looking to alternative power sources. Location is the first thing you have to think about. Solar power only generates during the day so if you live in an area that has low sunlight, you may want to have a specialist do an analysis to see if you will get sufficient sunlight. While the sun states might seem like a no-brainer, consider the direction your home or business is facing and if you have trees. If the direction works out but the trees do not, you will have to incur the cost of having the trees removed as well as the change to your home or business esthetics.

One of our neighbors decided to first do solar for their smaller home only for heating their swimming pool. They had to remove four large pine trees. That added an additional cost of $2,000 to the already higher cost of the solar installation. There home previously had a warm and quaint appearance due to the trees and now it stands out in the bright sun, looking rather barren.

You may have heard about all kinds of rebates and incentives for solar power. The government had fairly decent programs in the 80’s. Current incentives rate around 30% from the Government, but local programs are county-specific. I looked up the incentive for my particular county and it only listed a small dollar incentive ($200) if I included a solar water heater. If you have to invest thirty thousand dollars into a solar system, get a 30% tax incentive, you are still looking at $21,000 investment. The overall average cost (before any rebates or tax incentives) is configured to be about $10 to $12 per watt.

Your roof is another thing to take a very good look at. If you are thinking about having your roof re-done (or need to have it done) you will have the added expense of having the solar panels removed and replaced with the new addition and you will not be able to use the solar panel efficiency while they are down.

The cost of maintaining and keeping your solar system clean is another area to review. Whether you hire a company or are a do-it-yourselfer, it will cost something. In my case, we are surrounded by pine trees and even though the trees are far away, the pine needles are many. This would mean we would have to be on our roof or pay someone else once a month to keep the area cleaned up.

The positive sides of solar energy are pretty obvious. You can do the math to figure out how long it would take your solar system to pay for itself. Using our $21,000 number above and estimating a higher electric bill of $200 per month, it would take you 105 months to break even. That’s almost nine years. If your area is set up for the return grid credit abilities, remember that you are also collecting a lot of solar power and returning it as a credit into a grid. You will have to check your individual area and your power company to see what that amount might be, but it isn’t as nice as it sounds. Power companies are in business to make money, not pay it out.

Solar power remains one of the best choices for both homes and business in today’s society, but with a slowly improving economy, the financing options are getting slimmer. Very few people have $21,000 cash lying around and finance companies are making it more difficult to borrow money. So, your hopes and dreams of adding solar power to your home may come crashing down.

Solar technology is an area of research that has a high focus. There are many new developments that are being tested that are lighter weight and offer a more sturdy construction. The newer collectors being tested also collect a higher volume of energy in a shorter amount of time.

Solar power is better for the environment all around. But, before you make the jump you will want to examine all aspects for a fit for you.

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