Why Solar Panels Are Not Worth It: Pros & Cons

Tim Hamlin
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What Is A Solar Panel?

We need to learn how solar panels actually work to make an informed decision about whether or not they’re a worthy investment for our homes. Specifically, what are the pros and cons of solar panels and how they can benefit homeowners.

A solar panel is a device that converts light energy from the sun into electrical energy, which can be used to power anything. Solar panels are used in homes and businesses to help power a home or business without relying on the power grid.

It may seem as if the earth is incredibly bountiful in terms of the energy needed for us to function, but the sun that provides that energy is in a constant state of change. If we relied solely on the sun for our energy needs, we would need to understand how the sun’s energy is converted to generate the energy needed to power your water heater, electric lights, and televisions.


Solar power for homes is a fairly new concept, with the earliest solar panels being developed and installed in 1947. However, even with only a few decades under its belt, solar has seen significant growth, doubling in the last 5 years alone.

Solar energy has some big boosters, including the federal government. Their research agency, the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), just released a report that gave a long-term outlook for solar energy. In it, they raised their projections for solar power, saying that solar will soon be the dominant source of energy in the United States. At the current growth rate, they think that solar energy will cover more projected energy growth than any other source.

This isn’t the first time that federal agencies have given a vote of confidence to solar energy. Earlier in 2014, the Department of Energy released an updated solar power plan that emphasized the importance of solar for the U.S. electric grid.

What is it made of?

Solar panels are just large arrays of DC collectors. These panels can be made of a variety of different materials, with the most popular ones being various types of polycrystalline silicon cells. Some modern cells use monocrystalline modules, allowing for even greater efficiency.

While the theory behind a solar panels works, in reality, traditional solar panels that use silicon are very expensive to make.

Several mining and extraction processes are needed to obtain the silicon for solar panels and that includes an extremely hazardous process that generates a huge amount of toxic waste. More on that later though.

Energy can be obtained from a variety of sources, but one of the most abundantly available sources of energy that just about anyone can access is the sun. Sure, you have to wait for a sunny day to maximize the effects, but the overall amount of solar energy a single square meter of the sun gets in one hour is more than a conventional coal, oil or nuclear power plant can generate in an entire year.

If you consider that solar cells don’t even come with a warranty for more than 20-30 years, it becomes clear that they are not the solution you’re looking for.

Yet, most modern solar panels are designed to be able to operate effectively in a environment where the ambient temperature is 60-80F and the worst thing that can happen is the occasional big, fluffy chunk of snow.

How Does It Work?

Solar panels work by converting light energy from the sun into electricity. A solar panel can be made of a variety of materials, including silicon, plastics and more. Each type of cell is used for different applications, and you can choose your solar panels based on what works best for you.

The most common type of cell is the crystalline-silicon solar cell that works by absorbing light energy and turning it into electricity. Silicon panels are what the solar industry uses most often. It is the most efficient silicon in the production of electricity and is more readily available, making it cheaper to produce.

A silicon solar cell has a positive and negative side. When sunlight hits, the photo voltaic process begins. The light energy from the sun that is absorbed triggers the energy that is collected by the negative side. When this energy reaches the positive side, it is converted into an electric current. At this point, the energy continues down wires connected to the positive side of the cell.

In contrast, thin-film solar cells contain a variety of materials. These panels are relatively new to the market, and they are changing the solar industry. The materials used in these panels provide unique features compared to silicon panels.

Thin-film panels are made with several materials that are inexpensive, making them easier to manufacture than crystalline-silicon panels.

Advantages Of Using Solar Energy

If you are cutting back on fossil fuels, or you happen to run your own power company, or if you use solar to power a remote location, these are all reasons why solar energy can reduce your carbon footprint.

Solar panels are a cheaper alternative to other power sources, which means that they can often save you money. This also results in “green” power causes less strain on our planet because solar energy is sustainable.

Safer & Clean Storage

Electricity doesn't just come from power plants. It comes from a powerhouse of technologies, most of which are dependent upon various sources of stored energy. In fact, if it were not for a battery or a combustion system that can be switched on at a moment's notice and provide immediate power, this technology would be stuck in the dark ages.

Solar energy harnesses the sun to convert the sun’s rays to stored energy. The sun is a natural and safe power source, and the storage technology helps to ensure that solar energy is always present when needed.

The Sun Is Universal

Solar energy is universal and useful anywhere that the sun shines. No one needs to have an on-demand supply of sunlight for renewable solar energy to be of benefit. It can also be scaled up to meet the needs of an entire community.


For solar energy:

The usage of solar energy is very simple and straight forward. In fact, there are two widespread uses for solar energy:

  • Solar Pool Heating — This makes use of solar energy for heating up the pool water. The use of solar energy in pool heating is very popular in the states which experience very cold winters. So popular, in fact, that about 90-percent of all heated pool water in the U.S. is provided by solar energy.
  • Solar Electricity Generation — This makes use of solar energy to generate electricity. There are two basic types of solar energy generators: photo-voltaic and solar heat collectors. Photo-voltaic solar generators directly convert sunlight into electricity. Solar heat collectors make use of solar energy to heat water or air, which is then used to run a conventional power generator.

Disadvantages Of Solar Energy

Solar energy is not as widely available as fossil fuels and for a long time, it was only natural resources that could be used for the generation of electricity.While the techniques to generate power from solar rays are better than earlier methods and the spread of its popularity is increasing, the reduction in the cost of solar technology is not enough to make it widely available and affordable to a large number of people.

Similarly, the 'solar panels' that are available in the market might be useful in some cases but they cannot be used as a primary source of electricity. This is because they are not practical. The solar panels are not connected or fixed in a way that the power that they generate would be sufficient for regular use. They also take up too much space.

Why Are Solar Panels Not Worth It?

I decided to do this short blog on solar panels for one main reason. To give you a fair understanding of the financials of a solar power system.

So many people get sucked in by the "green" movement that they forget practical financial details. While having a solar system installed may cost a pretty penny upfront, it's not a no-brainer investment. I've broken down the positive and negative financial factors involved with solar panels to give you an objective view of what a solar power system may cost you, over the next 20+ years.

Final Thoughts

Solar power is the best alternative for the environment. The main rule of power generation from solar is – the more sunlight you use, the less you pay in your electricity bill. Over a period of few years, you can save a lot of money. Unless, your installed solar panels are damaged during storms, theft, or a variety of other reasons, they will generate clean electricity for about 20 to 40 years.

So, if you have to pay a few thousand dollars upfront for saving money for over a decade, then consider this investment to be a good one.

You Can Go Solar without Doing Panels

In addition to installing solid-state solar panels on the roof, you can also use alternative energy sources to produce solar power. Your lifestyle and the options given by your locality can help you choose the best for your home. Take a look below:

Mini-Split Air Conditioning System- If your house has central air conditioning, then you can install a mini-split air condition system. It is much more efficient than conventional split systems. You can basically, cut your air-conditioning bill by 50% by adding this air conditioner.